Radhika adjusted her dupatta for the tenth time as she sat staring blankly towards the ceiling, where a fan moved languidly making a screeching noise. She looked around the huge room where she had been sitting for the past half an hour or so. It was a dilapidated building and the newly yellow painted walls did little to dispel the air of glumness that pervaded in the air. Radhika tried hard to whisk away the fear that engulfed her all of a sudden like an uninvited guest. She fiddled with her dupatta yet again in an effort to take her mind off everything that tormented her.
Radhika had always been a chirpy girl. Her big eyes and long curly tresses made her look vivacious. She had a happy childhood and had lots of friends. Her father worked in a bank and her mother was a housewife. Every evening Radhika and the other children in the neighbourhood would throng the building compound and play hopscotch and hide and seek. Little Radhika and her friends would spend hours playing various ‘make believe’ games. Radhika always insisted on becoming the ‘mamma’ and her friend Kriti would end up playing ‘daddy’ owing to her height. Radhika would bathe her doll and make her wear pretty dresses.
Time flew away on its ‘winged chariot’ and Radhika turned sixteen. But, she still was a naïve, curly haired girl. Adolescence rendered her into a charming young woman. She was not quite ready for the attention that she garnered from the opposite sex, not that she didn’t bask in it. Little did she know, that her happiness was going to be short lived. She could never forget the fateful day when her life turned upside down.
Radhika was returning from her tuition classes one summer evening, humming blissfully when she was suddenly pulled inside a moving van. What transpired after that still made her shiver with fear and filled her with insurmountable anger. She was scared, she was aghast with misery. What had she done to deserve this gruesome behavior? For days together, she couldn’t drop a tear. She was numb. Then, one day the barrage of tears trickled down her cheeks and she howled vehemently. The innocent, curly haired girl became a zombie. The perpetrators of the crime were put behind the bars within a few days. But, Radhika’s life had changed.
As the bespectacled, grim looking judge took his place, Radhika looked at him, with hopeful eyes. As he read out his verdict, she could no longer hold her tears and her mother who was sitting next to her, hugged her tightly.
Radhika was accorded permission to terminate her twenty weeks pregnancy. Yes, the biggest aftermath of that macabre event lay there in her womb. Radhika never knew that she would want to abort her unborn child. But, she also did not know that she would have to seek permission to do so. Was it indiscernible that, the child was an outcome of a ghoulish act of brutality? Could a girl, who was all of sixteen years, raise a child who was born out of violence and force? But, she had to move from one legal building to another to beseech the permission to do what she wished to make of her life. The past five months bore heavy on her and suddenly, as the judge passed the verdict in her favour, she could feel fatigue encompassing her being.
The unfortunate incident had left her bitter but it did not make her lose hope. The long struggle to get the right to abort, had an unusual effect on her. It made her defiant. She wanted to become a lawyer. She did not know if she could make a difference, but she wanted to do her bit however paltry it might be.
Radhika, who liked playing ‘mamma’ in all those childhood ‘make believe’ games, still wished to be a mother some day, but only when she wanted it.