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  • Writer's picturegauri nadkarni choudhary

When silhouettes changed

The silhouettes taunted her, reminding of her of the dark past. A past that continued to haunt her. The silhouette of a man she called her uncle and the silhouette of the confused crying girl. The silhouette of pain which did not make sense but left her feeling dirty. Over the years the silhouette of the girl changed, she took form on an angry woman, with her rage unleashed.

The raging silhouette took form of words. Words of anger and hatred towards the entire male species. Did they not deserve the hate? There wasn’t a day where there wasn’t an incident of a man committing some atrocities against woman. Didn’t every rape, violence and dowry death teach us how evil men were? It was her mission in life. The society needed to see the evilness within its system. A system that justified man’s dominance over a woman. Her words became more venomous, and she vowed to spread the venom to as many people as possible.

After one successful night, where each member of the audience resonated hate towards men, she walked back home. There ,silhouetted by the street light, was a man feeding the stray dogs. The dogs jumped around him in gratitude as he petted them lovingly. She watched him with growing discomfort. How was a man capable of such a selfless deed? She dismissed him from her thoughts. He may be nice to dogs but surely was a womanizer.

A few days later she was talking to women in the slums. Their stories appalled her, the violence, the abuse and the lack of voice fueled her hatred even further. She left seething with anger, the story of hate already taking form in her head. There she saw few silhouettes against the wall. They were a group of young boys who came over every weekend. They played with the kids in the slums, helped them with their school work and taught the women to read and write. They had even helped several women open bank accounts.

She hurried on to take cab back home. The driver of her waiting cab had fallen asleep. As she woke him up, he apologized. He had been working double shift the last few months. He had had a baby girl recently and he wanted her to attend an English school, he confessed with pride. He said she was his bundle of energy. Every time he felt tired her face gave him energy to work.

As they weaved through traffic, she saw a man in the car ahead, buy balloons from the kids at the signal. He just handed the money and then gave them the balloons too. He wanted them to go play for a while. The smiles of these children showed even in the silhouettes on the car door.

She had an appointment with the doctor. She wanted to talk to him about the evils of female infanticide. As she waited in the waiting area, she saw a young husband gently rubbing the back of his pregnant wife, convincing her that she did not look fat. The woman clutched his hand tightly and they both gazed at the silhouette of their family against the dreary clinic wall.

She left for home in a turmoil, having just met the doctor who did not charge when he delivered girl babies and his friend, the lawyer, who helped destitute women pro bono. She almost bumped into the policeman who was giving a piece of his mind to a group of youngsters who were targeting a transgender. He then held her hand and helped her find an auto.

As she reached home, it had grown dark. The lane around her house was deserted. The silhouettes looked ominous. The cab driver insisted on dropping her as close to the house as the narrow lane would allow. As she thanked him and started walking her way ahead, she passed an old man. He requested if she could help him walk home as he was new to the place. Tired as she was, she held his hand and they walked slowly towards her flat. He told her how he was here to take care of his grand children because his daughter in law was writing an exam. His voice filled with pride as he spoke about her daughter studying to becoming an IPS. As she reached her house, he thanked her for her kindness and waited till she was at her door step. As she opened her door, she turned around to wave back, but instead she saw his silhouette walking back in the opposite direction. He didn’t really need her help but instead chose to make sure she didn’t walk home alone.

As her eyes welled up, the silhouettes on the walls of her house slowly changed shape. They were no longer sinister men. She blinked hard to see them again, but this time it was with love over hate.

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