Illustration By: Ankur Sharma
No, I am not a whore.
I'm a 27-year-old commerce graduate, despite or because of the fact I come from a long line of civil servants and educators. I have studied abroad. I have had two serious boyfriends and, yes, I had sex with them as well as another acquaintance once, OK, twice. This is not general knowledge, but I want to be frank with you.
Does that make me a whore?
I don't think so.
Do my parents know? Of course not. Do they suspect? Perhaps. But they were mostly concerned that I got a good degree, so I could get a good career, not a good husband. But they are unusually evolved. And I'm not yet 30. Soon they will be looking at Shaadi.com
and the matchmaker will come around. Would have come around.
I like to think I am stylish. I have short hair but not for any political reasons
, and not just because long hair is a style so old and common in India, yaar
, and not just because, OK, my hair is lank and thin and doesn't look good long, but really because hair that comes to the chin is so easy to tuck behind my ears and still look smart, stylish and sexy depending on which avatar
I choose to be. Yes, sometimes I want to look sexy. But please understand I am more modestly turned out than most Bollywood heroines
and am not blessed with the curves of an apsara
, nor their celestial powers and ancestry that would give me the courage to show them off. I am far from a "dented and painted woman
" and I do not invite unnecessary attention in my dress or demeanour, nor do I look down on women who, in ignorance or bravery, do.
I have a group of friends who are educated and fun-loving. We have been to nightclubs in our youth, but now we all work hard and rarely meet up for more than dinner or movies a few times a month. I am a dutiful daughter who still lives at home, eats with her family and helps look after her bed-bound Nana. But most of my time is spent growing my own vending machine business, which turned a profit after only 18 months of operation.
I could be a poster girl for Emerging India.
I could have been.
Now - raped, beaten and filmed by well-meaning onlookers - who will marry me?
Would the boyfriends, brothers, fathers, sons and husbands who gather in the streets out in front of the hospital I'm lying in, who are demanding justice for me, "another daughter of India ravaged by its wolves," be happy to wed or sanction their nearest and dearest