On a rainy night in Mumbai’s Kamatipura area an unusual get together happened.
It was in a restaurant called Princess Plaza.
Badru was sitting at the cash counter when Gangubai walked in.
I am sure you know Badru; the battered wife in the movie Darlings. Now she started a restaurant after her cruel husband Hamza died in a train accident; when the entire nation heaved a sigh of relief. In Mumbai, I suppose, that is the easiest way to get rid of bad guys. But to be fair to Badru she did not push him under the wheels though she thought of it many times. It is he who got knocked down by a speeding train on his own accord while standing on the rail tracks shouting and threatening his wife till his last breadth. One thing is certain. He left at the right time; because if he had continued to live with Badru one of us would have definitely gone and smashed his head.
Coming back to the present Badru is now financially and emotionally a very happy person. On the third anniversary of the restaurant she decided to invite Gangubai, Veera and Bauria aka Mary Jane to her restaurant and spend some time with them. She wanted to know a few things from them.
In few minutes Veera and Bauria also joined them. They seemed to have met at the railway station. One was coming from Himalayas and the other from Goa. Both of them looked quite cheerful. There was an air of enthusiasm and anticipation in everyone’s face. Badru warmly invited them and after a round of introductions they sat down for a chat.
Snacks and chai followed with some light banter. After a while Gangubai asked Badru why she arranged this meeting. Badru looked at all of them and said “Any guesses?”
“All of us suffered in life for no fault of ours. Maybe you wanted to know how each one of us is coping with it now.” Veera was the first one to speak. She seemed to have given a lot of thought about the purpose of this meeting.
“Of course… that is one of the reasons. But did you ever think of whose faults we all suffered” replied Badru.
“I am not very educated like some of you. But I can say that we women are also very gullible. Why did I elope with a man whom I hardly knew and leave my house? In my obsession to become an actor, a heroine I neglected my safety and paid the price” said Gangubai.
“You might think it was your fault. But for many women like me there is no choice. My father died. I had no one look after me. I had to migrate for work. How would I guess I will land up with rapists and drug mafia? Many things are not in our hands” Bauria said.
“True. Look at me. I am from a rich family. Ideally I should not have had any serious problems. But see what happened. My own uncle sexually abused me. I was a child. Even my mother could not protect me. The man who accidentally kidnapped me was much more decent than my own uncle” Veera recollected her ordeal.
Badru was silent for a long time. Then she looked at each one of them intensely. Slowly she started to speak.
“For Veera it was her uncle. For Gangubai it was her lover. For me it was my husband. For Bauria it was the outside male world. I feel we are not safe anywhere – inside home or outside; with anyone – family or outsiders. Swimming in oceans and climbing high mountains are considered great achievements. People don’t realise we are no less achievers. We are the SURVIVORS of male cruelty. We are the ones who should be shown to the suffering girls and women of this country as the real role models, at least until the society changes for the better. I wish no woman should think of taking her life after seeing how we shaped our lives. I invited all of you to celebrate our new life.”
They looked at each other and broke into laughter. They all seem to agree with the new term they coined for themselves. “Let us change the name of this restaurant to Survivors and invite all our fellow survivors to this place” laughed Gangubai.