It was a serene, early winter morning in Punjab. Subsequent to an exhaustive night of restless barking, dogs finally preferred to sleep. Lajja was ready to pound the pavement. Accompanied by two of her pals, she headed towards the neighbouring bus stop. Nothing could be heard except a few women undertaking their regular errands despite the frosty season. Brisk stride of the three students caused their noses to become red. Holding clenched and frozen fists for around ten minutes, they could board the bus.
Following the set trend, Lajja took up the first vacant seat on her left. Her friends chose to occupy the next available places. It was customary for a few girls and boys to get hold of the hindmost seats and gossip about the fellow students as well as peers. To her dismay, Lajja spotted Kedar, one of the rear, tittle-tattle herd, sitting right opposite her.
Kedar already wore a greedy grin, as was known to be a notorious guy, chasing a charming lass like her. His beaming face was backed with a reason. Lajja was shifting to his environs soon. Her house getting rebuilt, she had to move to her uncle’s house.
Kedar started interrogating her but she tried to evade him. Chills went through her spine when she was informed that Kedar lived in the same lane where her uncle resided. Kedar’s tormenting misdemeanour kept haunting her all the time. Now that he will be close to her household, she was petrified.
Winter brought discomfiture that year for Lajja and her clan. Uncle Mohan was friendly but had less space to accommodate five additional members. Onset of summer relieved the entire family as they could find some space on the terrace to sleep at night. Lajja was electrified to catch sight of coal-black sky filled with tiny, glittering stars. Not before much time had elapsed, she encountered something anomalous.
One night, she woke up to feel a slight tingle on her thighs. Trying to adjust to dim light outside, it was damn hard for her to be sure what was happening. Her heart skipped a beat, her face dripped with perspiration, she had a glimpse of someone beside her. Jumping out of her bed instantly, she rushed to the exit door. Before she could grab hold of the situation, even the shadow of that person was long gone by then. The open staircase was friendly enough to get down easily. Chances of that intruder being Kedar could not be dismissed. She went down, still puzzled and slept half awake rest of the night.
Her prolonged stay at uncle Mohan’s house came up with another jolting shock. One morning after taking shower and coming out of the bathroom, she found uncle Mohan standing in the adjoining passage with some kind of undomesticated lust, latent in his eyes. Sensing oddity, she tried to bypass Mohan but he pushed her against the wall at the back and tried to seal her mouth by grip of his strong palm. Unzipping pants and trying to advance his ulterior motives further, he exerted force against her body. Fortunately aunt Suhasini was heard close enough, he had to release her. Lajja shivered with bitter resentment. Uncle Mohan gestured to keep quiet and left hurridly.
Lajja’s mom was shattered into pieces when she learnt about the entire episode. It was difficult to make Lajja’s father aware about the mishap as he loved his brother more than his offspring. She kept on guarding Lajja thereafter. After all Lajja was just 14. A scared Lajja started feeling unsafe wherever she went.Her mom never knew that safeguarding her all the time was not the real solution to the problem. Deep, despairing damage was done way beyond repair.
Now Lajja is a grown up girl married to a handsome guy named Ashok. It is the fifteenth day post marriage and Ashok is still afraid of getting closer to her. She stood like a fragile-glass doll whenever he tried to get intimate and that was considered to be a sign of shyness (as was her name) by him. Since then he is treating her nicely, keeping a safe distance and helping her get rid of her shyness. Seldom he knows about the root cause of the problem which is nothing but haphephobia.
Not all men are the same and Ashok is ready to do anything to make her happy. It could take days, months or even years to completely erase the subsequent effects of an attempted rape. His positive attitude and a romantic way to handle her might heal her in no time.
Please note: The story is totally fictional. But the unfortunate things that happened to Lajja are based on real incidents. Lajja, the title of the above story suits the men who are the wrong doers.