What is a home?
A four walled house that you can call your own. A place where you can be your true self. A place where you're guarded, you're shielded, you're safe.
But what happens when your own home feels like the most unsafe place to be at?
After residing in the capital for more than a decade now, I felt that fear for the first time recently.
I went out to shop for the usual groceries at 8 PM on a Sunday when the streets of Delhi are filled with hustle-bustle. But weirdly, the same streets were filled with utter silence.
Obviously, I thought to myself how weird that is, but I didn't pay much attention to it. But when I went near the grocery, an unusual sight horrified me.
The sight of utter chaos. Shopkeepers were hurriedly closing down their shops. Everyone around was hurriedly escaping from the area and the deafening sirens of the police vans could not be ignored.
Unknowingly, I asked the shopkeeper about this commotion. To which he replied that a rumour is going around that the riots are going to occur anytime now.
'Just a bloody rumour'.
Something that 'might' be true, but something which does not have any official proof. For fuck's sake, it was a rumour which had no basis, no confirmation, nothing.
RUMOR IS THE BIGGEST ENEMY.— DCP West Delhi (@DCPWestDelhi) March 1, 2020
A rumor has been noticed that there is some tension in Khyala-Raghubir Nagar area of West District. There is no truth behind it. All are requested to keep calm as the situation is absolutely normal & peaceful. @LtGovDelhi @CPDelhi @ANI @DelhiPolice
But still, after hearing about the violence, like everyone else around me, I went into complete panic and fear. Whatever I went to buy for myself, I forgot about it and couldn't wait to just go home and lock myself in.
The terror of being followed or being in the middle of violence went through my head the entire time until I reached home.
But what scared me more was that I saw the same horror in everybody else's eyes.
Honestly, as a single working woman residing in New Delhi, I'm pretty acquainted to feeling unsafe all the time. In fact, every day is a struggle.
But for the first time, I felt unsafe even after I reached my own home. The thought of a violent mob of strangers breaking in my house and harming me kept bothering me.
I kept looking for all sorts of objects at my place that I could use as weapons 'if' someone barges in. I kept thinking of escape plans from my own goddamn home.
Where could I run? Where should I run to?
At that point of time it didn't really matter which god I prayed to because I literally prayed to anyone who'd listen.
But that's just an instance that happened to a person who lives in a rather posh part of the capital. Who feared a mere rumour which never even came true. Who, unlike others who actually lost a lot in these acts of violence, is privileged.
Yes, privileged. Because even though I am a woman in this country, I might not be as scared as the marginalised who became a part of the several violent attacks that happened in the past week.
I mean, if a night's rumour scared the hell out of me, can one even imagine what would've happened to the people who actually were in the middle of this barbarity? Who lost their everything for absolutely no reason?
Congratulations India !— Vikram Saxena (@avsviks) February 25, 2020
You have entered in developed nations list (as per USA) with this blast & fire. Smoke everywhere ! Kudos !!
Distribute sweets now. 🤬#Trumpinindia #DelhiRiots #Delhiisburning pic.twitter.com/6ZGcpcfADc
What would have gone through their heads when random strangers beat them or their loved ones up and they couldn't do anything about it?
How helpless they would've felt when they couldn't trust anyone or couldn't get any help. I can't imagine and honestly, I never want to.
I mean all this loss of life, faith and humanity just makes me think if it even was worth it? Was it worth forcing people to run out of fear from their own homes? Was it worth lynching people inhumanly based on their names?
I mean, we have entered 2020. Wasn't it supposed to be the year of advancement? The year of growth? What the hell even happened?
Is this the same country which gave us our right to speech, our right to opinions, our rights to co-exist harmoniously? The same country which boasts about being secular?
Surely, I am no one to judge who is right or wrong. But all I know is that when there comes a time when one feels terrorized at their own home, nothing is right in the world.