The incident goes back to fifteen years before, on a regular weekday evening of 1998. We were all in our early twenties then- sprouting with youth, fresh, crisp and blazed like the radiance of a newly bought golden sari. We were all ambitious, happy, fond of phuchka, wore lipstick, loved Physics and infatuated Shah Rukh. Sanchari too was no exception. She belonged to our batch of Physics department that graduated in ’99 from Presidency. But, she specifically belonged to our group comprising of five girls.
Our tuition class used to end usually around 8:30 pm in the evening, at Sovabazar. All five of us went to the same tuition together, directly from college. But since we hailed from different parts of the city, hence we had to depart in different routes back home. Mohini and I used to take the bus to north, while Ajanta used to go back by her own car to Salt Lake dropping Kamalika at Lake Town and Sanchari used to take the metro to reach her home at Rabindra Sarobor.
That day our tuition teacher ended the class half an hour late than habitual. So we didn’t carry out our customary ambles, babbling and laughing, instead strode along quite hurriedly, to reach out for our respective conveyances. Sanchari bade all of us adieu as she climbed down the stairs of the Sovabazar metro station.
The platform became scantily populated during those late hours. Sanchari waited for the next train as she murmured to herself “If I avail the train of 9:09pm, then I’ll be able to reach home by nine-forty… Ma would get worried and a bit annoyed but I’ll surely calm her down”.
She was lost in her thoughts, while suddenly her eyes caught the glance of a moustached man in mid-thirties checking her out in a very inelegant manner. Somewhat disturbed, she moved her eyes away and stood, turning her back to the man. But what a loutish creature the man was! He again sauntered and appeared in front of Sanchari, persisting his filthy and insatiable stare at her. Disgusted she thought “What an ill-bred man!” and marched away to a different part of the platform. Cautiously she stood before some pillars and with a sigh of relief she said to herself, “Thank God! Now I guess the man won’t perturb me again…!”
But within two minutes of her respite, a feeling of maladroitness crept into her. She never felt so much uneasiness ever in her life. Flabbergasted, she turned back only to perceive feelings of sudden shock, repulsion, hatred, distress, bitterness, acrimony, anger, insult and every sort of pessimistic feeling – all together, all at once. She exclaimed to herself, “Is it believable, what happened now…?! Am I the first girl, on whose kameez in the back at first and then in the front on turning back, got soiled by the semen of a man in his mid-thirties…?! ” Means that, the man had masturbated and then ejaculated on Sanchari, in the scarcely populated platform!
Astonished…shocked…injured, she stood there numb and torpid. For a few seconds, she couldn’t believe her own experience. She didn’t know about how to react next – should she cry out aloud? Should she slap the man hard on his face? Should she shout for help? Or should she abuse the man? While the man gave her a dirty grin and rambled away to a different part of the platform, zipping the chain of his trousers.
Sanchari stood all alone, abandoned and sordid – trying her best to cleanse her feelings of harassment and repugnance, clinging to her utmost strength that won’t permit her to commit suicide at that very moment. While the feeling of distaste prevailing through her nerves, veins and arteries. It seemed as if millions of nails have been brutally pierced into her nerves, spines, flesh and heart. She never had that urge to let out a helpless scream so loudly, as she felt that evening. She never felt so much angry in her life. Never ever did she feel such feelings of despair, bitterness and shame.
She returned home. Throughout her way back inside the train, she felt as if every co passenger of hers was only scrutinizing her. She felt as if everybody inside the train wanted to ask her desperately, “Hey you there, what’s that on your dress?” And how would she reply to the world? What would she answer to herself? How would she be able to say that
“It’s my humiliation. The white fluid which has soiled my apparel has soiled my soul at the same time, soiled my dignity and soiled my respectability!”
Sanchari didn’t remember details about how she managed to go back home, but when she reached she wore such a dark and somber facade, that even her mother guessed that something went seriously wrong, horrifying and felt somewhat panicked – the common “panic” of every mother of young damsels. The only thing Sanchari said in a cold voice was, “Ma, throw this salwar away.”
The next few days witnessed an incessant series of melancholy, grief and frequent shedding of tears. All five of us, felt sad and sorry for her. We were all pained for the mental anguish which Sanchari had to undergo. And eventually she developed a quaint disorder of washing and cleaning every belonging of hers – she spent hours washing her dupatta after returning home from college, wiped her spoon repeatedly before using it and washed her room thrice a day. Even a little amount of dirt at the corner of her handkerchief made her feel sickening. A lively young girl gradually instilled in herself an obsession for washing and cleansing everything around, becoming a victim of a psychological syndrome called “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder”.
As Sanchari wiped her desk, insanely again and again before keeping her books on it, all the students along with the professor did burst out into an uproarious laughter.