What do you say when your best friend becomes a newspaper headline on a morning?
Now, that he looked back, he saw her standing outside the house with slit wrists. “I screwed up again”, she said. His first reaction was shock. He couldn't open the latch. A further spurt of blood from her wrists shook him out though.
His mind was racing around slasher movies and Discovery channel medical programs. The cuts were more wide than deep and blood was gasping out of her right one. He held her hand close to the wrist, trying desperately to stop the flow. Somehow, they managed to reach the fridge. Ice. After ten minutes of ice and pressure, the blood stopped.
Questions would come later. He had to cry first. They cried together.
Today, he would rather that she would come to him with slashed wrists. He was 2000 miles away. And she had turned into a newspaper headline.
'____ girl raped in a moving car'.
In the morning, he had read through the pages on the website without a break. As always, once he had finished with the sports and the comics, he had but 2 minutes to look at news about his city. Crimes against women was, but, a regular feature. On an average, five every day. On good days, maybe two. Not that he didn't care. He would do something, if only he could have. But what could he?
Then at 4, the call came. "____ has been raped again." "Again?". "Yes. In the middle of the day".
His mind wasn't racing through anything at the moment. In fact, it had managed to cocoon itself completely within the narrow confines of the phone booth. He had to something. He wished he could hold her hand close to her wrist. Or something.
Once back in his room, he checked indiatimes. Which had NSUI and ABVP protesting at the 'failure of the system'. Police had made an assurance that the culprits will be found. There was an entire opinion piece on tinted glasses on car windows. He also found that she was in the hospital and cooperating with the investigation.
This wasn't the first time. She was undergoing counselling for the previous time. He had met the counsellor once. She had asked him to.
"Think of a dustbin. We keep on filling it with garbage through the day. Whenever it stinks, we close it with a lid. Then we open it and fill in some more. We keep the lid on. However, the garbage will keep on stinking. We are trying to get the garbage out now. We have to throw it out. It will stink, and it will be uncomfortable. But unless we throw it out, the dustbin will remain clogged. Ultimately, the lid will not be able to keep the stink in"
Whatever was the problem with these counsellors, he had thought. Now all he could do was stare at the dustbin at his feet. "How many times will she have to clean it?"
Then, he cried.
- Action Hero Dhoomketu