I have not stepped out of my door since four men raped me at Bihta, a few kilometres west of Patna, on November 19.
I do not leave my house as I cannot face people. I am unable to bear the thought of eyes piercing me with the unspoken question, “Isn’t she the one who was raped?”
I was about to get engaged to a boy of my caste — employed with the railways — when the calamity occurred. When the boy’s family saw newspaper reports of the incident, they called off the ceremony.
My world has come to a standstill. I am stunned that a young girl’s existence can turn into nothing in a few minutes. Till a month ago, I was like any other 17-year-old, an intermediate student at an Arrah college.
My father, a Border Security Force employee, is fairly well off. Our pucca house stands tall among thatched huts in our village in south central Bihar’s Bhojpur district— where the Bhojpuri dialect originated.
Being the youngest in the family and the only sister of four brothers, I was a pampered child.
Destiny intervened when I got involved with a boy in my neighbourhood. He belongs to a different caste. When my father came to know about this, he got so furious, he threatened to shoot me. At other times, he would speak of killing himself.
Even angrier was the boy’s family. “How could I, a scheduled caste girl, dare to be in a relationship with a higher-caste boy,” was their logic. Soon, my family was receiving threats.
So worried were my family members about my well-being that when my maternal uncle visited us, they prevailed upon him to take me to my aunt’s place in Bihta.
On the day of the incident, I had gone to the Bihta market with my aunt’s grandchild to get my mobile recharged. There I met my friend from the village. To spend some time with him, I asked the child to return home.
My friend and I went to a quiet place near the railway track on Dumri Road. Suddenly, four persons arrived out of nowhere. They tied up the boy and attacked me so violently that I lost consciousness.
When I came to, I saw a woman trying to help me up. There were policemen around me and some members of the media were also present. The news of the incident spread like wildfire.
After spending three days at the mahila thana (women’s police station) at Bihta, I was taken to my village only to find a big crowd gathered at my doorstep. Everybody was staring at me with an accusing look for having brought dishonour to my family and the village. There were bruises on my body. My face and lips were swollen. But the attitude of the villagers magnified my trauma.
Since then, I have not stepped out of my door. My eldest brother was staying in Patna to prepare for competitive examinations. When the incident occurred, he was asked to come home.
Next day, his friends and acquaintances started making enquiries about the episode. Hurt and humiliated, he switched off his mobile phone.
Since then he has not visited Patna.
My two other brothers, who were studying in a local college, have stopped attending classes and avoid facing local people. Whenever they go out, neighbours stare at them, gossip and pass comments.
My father now comes home after long intervals. When he does, he confines himself to a room and drowns his sorrows in alcohol. My mother sobs and rues the day she allowed me to visit my aunt’s place.
Nobody visits us. All our relatives, family friends and local people have stopped coming to our house. It seems as if there is an unspoken, undeclared social boycott. Soon after the four accused were arrested and imprisoned, money was offered to us to withdraw the case.
But we did not relent. Now, I have heard my brothers say the four men were convicted by a fast-track court and sent to jail for five years.
But this is not punishment enough. I want them to be behind bars for their entire life. Even better, they should be hanged so they can never target another girl.
(As told to Reena Sopam)