Silence Lost

Deep-cut embellished blouses. Arms waxed and moisturized smooth.
Perfectly pleated saree draped to reveal just a hint of a sexy waist.
Eyebrows arched just right. Kajal applied just so.
Two pairs of lips colored to attract ever so subtly.
Two pairs of eyes seeking each other intermittently.
 

A crowd gathers not too slowly.
Voices are found as numbers increase.
“Go away. You people are not allowed here.”
“Get up from that bench. We can’t sit with you.”

 

Lips quivering with the weight of helpless anger.
Eyes fighting that daily fight – against tears.
“Why? What wrong did we do?”
“We are people too. We have the same rights as you.”

 

An electric train pulls in and out unnoticed.
All of Nungambakkam railway station is here.
Shouting, watching, discussing, whispering.
 

“Don’t sit here, ma. Move to that bench there.”
“They are bad people. Dangerous.”

 

I look up to a man in a lungi worn thigh-high.
Speaking to me with an urgency..
An urgency that doesn’t suit my beloved Chennai’s Tamizh.
 

The two transgender beauties get up to leave.
One crying humiliated tears.
The other cursing at the crowd.
Both leading each other away to safety.
 

Their swaying backs disappear at the far end of the platform.
The satisfied crowd disperses to wait for their trains.
The lungi man is back to manning his shop.
Nungambakkam station is back to its busy self.
I am back to sitting alone watching people and trains.
A tad confused and dazed. What just happened?
 

My friend comes running down the stairs.
We hug and laugh.
We start talking – fast, together.
I dust myself off.
The past five minutes promptly forgotten..
Forgotten for now.

 

It has been more than a year..
But the scene keeps playing in my head.
Did I move from that bench?
May be I did.
I don’t remember.
 

Sometimes, you don’t remember what happened.
Sometimes, you remember what nobody else remembers..
Sometimes, you remember what did not happen..
What you did not do.
What you did not say.
 

I did not speak up.
I did not refuse to move.
I did not stand up for them.
I did not stand up for what I believed.
In any way!
 

I felt guilt.
Guilt that I remember most vividly.
 

Does not feel good.. at all!
A feeling that would remind me for life..
To stand up for what I believe.
To never stay a mute spectator to injustice.
Never again..
For my own sake.
 

Ouch.. Silence stings!
Doesn’t it?
Silence better lost – for good.

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