‘Amrutha! Wake up.’ Sidhu shook her shoulder vigorously trying to wake her up. She turned her face to the other side lifting her hand showing two fingers gesturing that she needs two more minutes of sleep. Sidhu usually never disturbs her sleep. He waits outside her home until she comes down herself. They both work as research scholars in a space technology organisation. They have known each other since schooling and they are going to marry soon. Today is their project presentation day and it is already getting late. Sidhu is trying to wake her but everything is in vain. He finally said, ‘Wake up Ammu.’ Amrutha quickly woke up and stood beside her bed. Pointing a finger at Sidhu, she said, ‘I told you a million times not to call me Ammu.’ Sidhu gave a faint smile and said, ‘Whatever. You are out of your bed. Now go get ready. We have a presentation to give for god’s sake.’ Amrutha yelled out her anger and went in to get ready saying, ‘Such a cheap trick.’ Sidhu bowed and said, ‘learnt from you my master.’ She threw her toothpaste at him and went in. Sidhu came down and waited for her to get ready.
Amrutha is the only daughter to her parents and she feels she is fortunate to have parents as such to let her live the life she wanted. Not to mention, her parents are one of those who seek recognition in public and values their image projection in society. She too got some of those in her blood. She tries to be good at everyone and be the perfect girl. Come on, who doesn’t want to be called as perfect and good. Amrutha quickly took a bath and came down in a gorgeous white frock. Sidhu was waiting for her in the car. She strolled in and asked him, ‘How am I looking?’
‘Half dressed. Where are the pants?’
‘Shut up! This is a frock.’
‘Amrutha, I told you many times not to wear such clothing.’
‘I told you many times not to call me ‘Ammu’, but still you are doing that.’
‘Why are you talking about that now?’
‘Why are you asking about my dressing now?’
‘I don’t like people to stare at you when you wear dressing like these.’
‘I am dressing for myself Sidhu. Not for the people. Now please start the car. We have a presentation to give for god’s sake.’ Sidhu regained his senses and thought that they can have this discussion later and started to drive. They reached on time and hurriedly rushed in for the presentation.
‘So to summarize, we never calculated the speed of light in one direction. We used a mirror and calculated total time taken by the light for the two way trip and divided it by two. To calculate the speed of light in one way we need two synchronized clocks. We cannot synchronize them when they are apart so we have to do it when they are at the same place. After synchronizing when we move both of the clocks from the synchronized position to the start and end points of the light ray, time dilation occurs as we all know that time runs slower in moving objects. So we can never have synchronized clocks at both the ends and thus we cannot calculate the speed of light in one way and it might be different in different directions which questions our existing theories.’ The crowd stood on their feet and gave a big round of applause for the thought provoking presentation by Amrutha. Sidhu came to Amrutha and shook her hand firmly symbolizing that all the work they did is paying off well. After that the whole ceremony ended in an hour and Amrutha dragged Sidhu to the cafeteria. ‘Sidhu I badly need a coffee.’ Sidhu went to get the coffee she asked for. While Amrutha is sitting alone at the table a batch of two men and two women came to her. She was looking tired and buried her head in her arms. One of them spoke out saying, ‘Amrutha?’ She quickly looked up and said, ‘yes.’ One of the men opened her hand and said, ‘Hi Amrutha, this is Sarath. We heard your presentation. It was fantastic.’ Amrutha shook his hand and said, ‘thank you.’ One of them asked, ‘Are you alone? Do you mind if we join?’ Amutha replied, ‘Sidhu is at the cafe getting coffee for us. Yes you can join. Let me get a coffee for you all.’
‘Surely need one. Your presentation roasted our mind.’ said one of the women.
‘So it’s that bad.’
‘No, no it made me think beyond my abilities and that roasted my mind.’ She quickly corrected it. Amrutha gave a smile and went to Sidhu to get coffee for all of them. They came back and started discussing about the presentation.
‘So you are saying that the time difference between earth and other planets is not what we have now?’ asked Sarath. Amrutha tried to explain it to them saying, ‘To synchronize clocks in different planets we use the speed of light to be the same in both the directions but if it has been different, the synchronization we do would be wrong. Einstein himself wrote in of his books which reads as, ‘Considering speed of light to be the same in both the directions,’ which means, he is not sure and they might be different.’ That made all of them freeze and lost in their thoughts. Sarath was the first to come back. He said, ‘I thought you are just beautiful outside but now I realised your knowledge is as beautiful as you are.’ Amrutha blushed for a second and said, ‘Don’t give all of it to me. Sidhu is a part of this project too.’
‘When did you join here?’ asked Sarath.
‘We joined last week.’ said Amrutha.
‘So you don’t know anyone here.’
‘I have my school friend here and luckily she is my best friend till date. Here she comes.’ Amrutha said, pointing to a woman who is dashing towards them in a hurry. She quickly came and said, ‘Amrutha, I heard that you rocked the presentation with Sidhu. Sorry I couldn’t attend. My mentor is killing me with work. Will meet you tomorrow.’ saying that she quickly ran back. ‘Hey, Swapna!’ shouted Amrutha hoping she would come back. ‘I’ll call you tonight. Hi and bye Sidhu.’ Swapna said while she was rushing away without looking at them and drifted away. They all talked for a while and dispersed to their works. Day quickly ran out and evening came in. Sidhu and Amrutha were driving back to the home. Sidhu broke the silence saying, ‘Amrutha, keep your distance from Sarath.’
‘Why? He is such a sweet guy.’
‘Don’t just trust him like that. The way he looks at you and all his behaviour, I can smell his misdeed.’
‘You should start a fortune telling store then.’
‘Everything’s not funny Amrutha. You should stop wearing dresses like these and stop being too close to people like Sarath.’
‘What! Wait, stop here. I have a parlour appointment now.’
‘What! You didn’t tell me about it?’
‘Ya, it was sudden.’
‘I’ll wait to drop you.’
‘No, you go home. I’ll go in uber.’
‘Don’t be late.’ saying that Sidhu left and Amrutha went into the parlour.
It took three hours to finish everything inside the parlour and by the time she came out it was almost dark. She opened her phone to book an uber for her. While she was doing so, a car stopped right in front of her with a yellow number plate. Window came down and the person inside was wearing a mask. He looked at Amrutha and asked, ‘Do you need an uber?’ Amrutha looked at him and said, ‘No thanks, I’ll book in the app.’
‘I am the nearest driver for you. Even if you book the app, I’ll be the one maped to you.’ He showed his driver profile in the uber app on his phone.
‘Then, we will do it that way.’
‘Uber deducts taxes for us for every trip. Just wanted to save some bucks. You can book in the app if you want.’
Amrutha thought for a second and said, ‘Okay. Drop me at 21st street.’ saying that she stepped into the car and the car started.
‘Why are you wearing a mask anyway?’ asked Amrutha out of curiosity.
‘I have a bad dust allergy.’ said the driver.
Amrutha buried herself into her mobile looking at her daily articles. After a while she felt that the car had stopped and looked out from the window. This street is not familiar to her. ‘Where are we?’ she asked. Driver didn’t respond and three other men opened the door and got in and all of them were wearing similar mask’s. Fear crawled inside her spine and she quickly tried to get out saying, ‘I’ll get down here.’ By then all the three got in and dragged her back and closed the door. All the doors are locked now. They started to drive away from the town. One of them closed Amrutha’s mouth while holding her hands and the other two started to undress her. It didn’t took anytime for Amrutha to realise that they are trying to rape her and she cursed herself for trusting this asshole. Million thoughts ran in her mind and she concluded that she cannot outcome them physically. She doesn’t want to die after getting raped. She at least wants to live. Thoughts ran in her mind, ‘Should I surrender and cooperate with them? What the hell am I thinking? No! They are gonna do it anyway and if you resist, they might think you may complain about them and that might provoke a thought of killing you. I shouldn’t die and I don’t want their fucking cum on me either. What should I do?’ By then her frock was almost peeled off and she had no time to think. She needs something to get out of them. A lie probably.
She bit the hand of the man holding her mouth and he quickly took the hand off. She shouted saying, ‘I was a fucking whore.’ All of them were shocked by her statement and released their tight grip. One of them removed his mask and started to smile. She then said, ‘I said, I was a whore and that’s when I got HIV and syphilis. Both of them are at severe rates. You still want to fuck me fuckers?’ They couldn’t think of what to do and how to react. They know that HIV can’t be transmitted through intercourse when used a condom but it’s like risking their life for one shot and God! syphilis in a severe state is so deadly. They couldn’t digest that. One of them quickly broke the silence and said, ‘Why the fuck should I believe you?’ She gave a pity smile and said, ‘I never asked you to believe me. Fuck me and get tested for HIV after a month and don’t ask me if you get syphilis for free.’ Amrutha can hear the echo of her own heart beat pounding with nervousness inside but she had to be cool outside to make them believe. They seemed to be thinking about what to do with her now. She started saying, ‘Okay you can continue what you are doing. I just don’t want you guys to suffer what I am facing now.’ and started to remove her frock. One of them turned furious and disappointed with her words. He said, ‘Stop you fucking cunt.’ He asked the driver to stop the car aside. He stopped as he said. He seemed to be unable to control his anger. He grabbed her hair and dragged towards him and slapped her and spat on her face saying, ‘get out you piece of shit.’ The other guy threw her from the car and they drove away.
Amutha is now lying on the footpath with dirt all over her torn white frock. She was facing the sky. She could see the stars in the sky through the dead branches of a tree. She couldn’t move a muscle. All in her mind was, ‘FEAR’. She couldn’t think of what would’ve happened if they hadn’t believed her. She started to cry unknowingly. Tears ran down all over her face and she was thankful that she survived but the fear is still aching her heart. Even Though she escaped she feels it made a scare to her soul. She stood up and realised that her hand bang was left in the car. Who cares for it now. She couldn’t think of what just happened to her and she is still feeling the grip of those people on her body and how weak she felt. She walked for a while on the footpath and reached a junction from where her home is just a five minute walk. She tried to recall one of their faces while she continued to walk. Her mind went blank and she cannot think of anything or anyone and all that’s in her mind was fear. She reached her house and took a shower. She thought of Sidhu. ‘Should I tell him about what happened? I don’t know how he would take it. I myself feel it’s such a cheap way to call myself a whore. I escaped from them for god’s sake. But I don’t think society will take it in a positive way.’’ I opened my laptop and texted Sidhu that I am home and I lost my phone. She lied down on her bed and couldn’t control herself from crying. ‘Why? Why people are so obsessed with sex?’ Thoughts such ran through her mind and she went into sleep.
Next day, she woke up to the sound of a calling bell. Amruta woke up and the past’s night flashed in front of her eyes and fear crawled upon her. She told herself not to recall the past. She went to the door and opened. Sidhu strolled in saying, ‘Where did you lose your phone.’
‘I actually lost my whole handbag while I was waiting for the cab outside parlour.’
‘What! It has your cards and every details’
‘Yeah yeah, I registered a complaint to the police.’ said Amrutha in a very feeble tone.
‘Are you on periods?’
‘No. Why did you ask that?’
‘You seem weak and tired.’
‘No. I am good.’
‘Okay then get ready. You have a meeting to attend.’
She recalled that it’s a very important meeting for her and she can’t skip it in any way. So she went in and got ready. They started driving. Amrutha seemed lost in a trauma thinking about what happened last night and what would’ve happened if they hadn’t stopped her when she was undressing herself. Sidhu asked her twice if there was anything that she wanted to tell him. She told him that it’s just a headache and she is okay. They reached their office. Sidhu said his mentor asked for him immediately and he rushed in. Amrutha got down from the car and started to walk in. The moment she came in, all the eyes inside the building turned towards her and gossips started to sound. She couldn’t understand what’s happening. Most of them are pointing their fingers towards her and saying something to the persons sitting beside them. She was confused and continued to walk. When she came to drink water near the reception, everyone gave a way for her and maintained distance from her. She couldn’t understand what’s happening around her. Sarath and her friends came to Amrutha and he said, ‘Hi hotty.’
‘What!’ Amrutha is shocked to hear Sarath calling her hotty.
‘I knew you were a whore yesterday itself. I know how whores maintain their body. Like yours.’
Anger raged through her body and suddenly she felt something cold inside her. The lie she told yesterday night. Oh My God. The other guy beside Sarath said, ‘I don’t know why they threw her out. I can even get HIV and die after fucking a cunt like this.’ saying that all of them started to laugh. Amrutha couldn’t take the insult. She doesn’t know how it reached them and now it makes sense why everyone’s looking at her like that. She couldn’t take the humiliation. She held her head low and felt that she cannot explain the truth to everyone. She heard a slap and looked up. It was Swapna who slapped Sarath. She said, ‘get away.’ She took Amutha’s hand and came out of the office. Amrutha couldn’t control her tears and after all this humiliation, she can barely take a breath. Swapna opened her mobile and showed a video that is circulating in social media in which she shouts, ‘I am a fucking whore’ followed by the clip where she tries to undress herself and a text saying, ‘A whore who got HIV for taking 10 dicks in at a time. If you still want to fuck her, call her.’ with her number attached to it. That made Amutha’s world turn upside down. She thought, ‘those fuckers had a camera in their car.’ The world started to rotate and she couldn’t stand still. Swapna then said, ‘Why didn’t you tell me about this? I never thought of you this way.’ Amrutha tried to explain what happened and while doing so, she fainted away.
She opened her eyes in a hospital. She recalled what she just saw and couldn’t take it in. ‘What if my parents see this. Oh god! Is this the way women are treated when they try to escape from a gang of rapists? What did I do to them? Why should they post it in social media? Swapna. She too thought that I am a whore.’ She cried and felt helpless and thought she isn’t ready to face the world now. Sidhu came into her room. She cried out loud and tried to explain to him what happened. Sidhu crossed her and said, ‘don’t think about it Amrutha. You don’t have to explain it to me. I trust you. Take some rest and everything will be alright.’ She tried saying, ‘but what if..’ he stopped her and asked to take rest. She couldn’t stop her tears and imagine her self respect and pride burning to ashes. She felt no reason to live with all the humiliation and she is sure that people won’t believe her even if she tells them the truth cause there will be nothing interesting in it. She thought, ‘They need something to roast and today it’s my pride and my family’s respect.’At least she was relieved that Sidhu understood her. She woke up and walked to the door and saw Sidhu talking to the doctor in the other room. She thought of getting into the room but felt ‘what if the doctor has seen the video?’ and stopped near the door. She can hear them talking. Doctor said, ‘Here are the reports you asked for.’ handing a file to Sidhu. Looking at them Sidhu said, ‘So she is negative with HIV.’ That made her heart bleed. Sidhu had asked the doctor for a HIV test. Doctor nodded saying that she is negative. Sidhu then asked, ‘Is there a way to test her virginity?’
Listening to this she collapsed to the ground thinking that her only hope to live is now questioning her. ‘Sidhu who had seen me since childhood couldn’t trust me and what about the rest of the world. How can I stand in front of my parents after they’ve seen the video? They cannot let their pride drown and I cannot see it happening because of me. How can someone simply judge a person with just a few seconds of video? They don’t know what happened before and after that. I should’ve just surrendered to them and had sex. Then they would’ve posted the entire video. Oh God!’ Her tears dried and she stood up and came to her bed. Her mind went blank and coldness conquered her heart. She always wanted to be good and positive at everyone around her and it took her years to build her character of positivity. But now a ten seconds video ruined everything she had built and been protected by her. She sat down in her bed and looked through the window of her room. Dark clouds covered the sky and it started to drizzle. Sidhu came in and looked at Amrutha. He came close to her and said, ‘You don’t worry about anything. I’ll talk to your parents.’ He then kissed her forehead and went out. She was sitting there like a statue watching the earth moving. ‘Why didn’t he kiss me the last time. Oh yeah, he had to make sure that I am HIV negative.’ Thinking that she gave a smile. She can feel the coldness growing inside of her. She stepped out of her bed and walked to the window. The drizzle turned into rain. She recalled a moment in the past when she posted a video of her dancing in the rain on the internet and it somehow reached her father. He insisted her to delete the video. ‘Now you cannot delete my video dad. It’s everywhere.’ She reminisced about the moments she had spent with Sidhu working for the projects and playing every possible game. She took a chair beside her bed and kept it close to the window. She stood upon it and looked down. It is easily more than ten floors. She saw people down the road rushing to find a shelter. It seemed so small for her now. The world. People. Love. Families. She had a thought of living away from all of these. Going to somewhere where people won’t recognise her. But she doesn’t want that. She had hoped for a life with her parents being proud of her. She had hoped for a life with Sidhu trusting her. She had hoped for a life exploring space. All of that was scarred now. She was sure it won’t be the same even after proving that she is not a whore. That thought made her stomach twist, ‘If she chooses to live, she has to prove that she is not a whore.’ She held her hand out feeling the rain. She cannot see the heights. She turned backwards and threw herself out of the window. The moment she was in the air, her entire life passed in front of her eyes in a split second and the light from the skies entered into her eyes. All that she could think of is, ‘Does it really take 8minutes 20seconds for the light to travel from sun to earth?’