Evening walks had become a part of my life ever since my health started going down. I had realized that to be healthy, you need not go to highly expensive gyms or fitness centers. I learned this the hard way after paying hefty amounts to the gym, and thus keeping up my new year resolution of not keeping up my new year resolution of going to the gym. Luckily i found that a daily dose of walking combined with a good diet could do wonders to your body, not to mention your mind. So it was my routine to come back from office, freshen up and walk for a good distance, contemplating on my work, life and family.
Monday would have been such a routine walk for me, had it not been for a very curious incident. I had just returned from office, finished my evening coffee and gotten into my walking clothes. Once on the street, i started walking briskly, noticing other people of my age walking along with me. It was hard to believe that young people were diagnosed with health issues that our grand parents faced during their old age. I took a turn at the corner and got into a narrow street, trying to determine a new route. As it was late evening, people had finished their walks and returned home, and this being a street far from the main road, was isolated.
I thought i heard a faint voice ahead. I looked around, but could not see anything, so I ignored and continued walking. This time the voice grew louder and seemed to come from very near to where i stood. It was a cry for help. There was a wall beside the road, which had an old mill. I had to jump the wall if i had to answer the cry. I jumped and got into the mill. What i saw next surprised me. It was Nina who had cried for help, but it wasnt her who was injured. They were 2 guys lying on the floor, with their faces bloody and beaten. Standing next to Nina was a young girl, looking scared and helpless. Nina held her hand tightly.
Nina was your everyday smart, sophisticated, fashionable yet the girl next door kinda girl. You would like her in an instant and feel as if you were friends with her for a long time. Nina, like the most of us, worked in one of the software companies as an Engineer. I had moved to this city for the job and stayed at a PG for the first few months. Nina had been my neighbor during that period and we got to know each other well enough to be friends.
Nina was from a town in the Northern indian state of Uttar Pradesh. She had been brought up by her parents and grandparents and hence, valued and respected all traditions. Although very good at job and active around people, i used to feel she was naive. She felt that every person she met was her friend and that they were all her well wishers. I tried telling her that, even though it was her good nature that made her think so, corporate jobs were a different game altogether. I also told her that people in big cities only worried about themselves and had no time for others. Nina, however, wouldn’t listen to me and continued believing people.
One day she came home crying. I had seen her wiping her tears and naturally, enquired the reason. She told me that a guy at work had passed indecent comments about her and also threatened her when she tried complaining about him. It was the same guy who she had helped when he had joined the company newly. She had instantly become friends with him as was her nature. The guy however misunderstood her friendly nature, and behaved indecently. She cried because she felt helpless that such guys could roam in the streets without being punished and girls like her had to worry each day about going to work.
I had not seen Nina for more than a year now. So it surprised me entirely when i saw Nina at the mill, and the guys fallen down beaten and tied up. I went along with Nina and the girl to the police station to handover these guys, and to send the girl home to her parents. Once that was settled, we started walking back to her place. I was really curious to know what happened.
Nina told me that after her work incident, she had become more cautious about dealing with people in general. She was now scared to make friends with strangers and would only go out with people she knew very well. It was during this time that daily reports of public harassment was telecast on TV. This had affected her deeply and now she was all the more scared to go out, sometimes even her office. She tried talking to her friends about it and they dismissed it saying things like this were common in cities. Nina, however wasn’t satisfied with such answers. She decided she would either quit her job and go back to her home or she would conquer her fear entirely.
Nina stayed back home for 2 days thinking about it, and concluded that such fears would follow her everywhere and it had to be removed. She decided to make herself stronger mentally and physically. She decided to join a martial arts class, where she would be trained to undergo physical routines. That would take care of her physical weakness. She also joined a yoga and meditation class, for overcoming fears that kept her awake at night.
She soon became friends with women who, like her had joined the martial arts class for self defense. She talked to her friends about women safety and lectured them on the need for a club that could take care of such issues. Nina was given a thumbs up from her mates and they soon started a club in the neighborhood for women safety. They also talked to the local Police station about the club who promised their full support for such a good cause.
The club would split up in groups for walks during daily peak hours when women traveled to and from work. Although disguised as walks, the real intention was to patrol the streets in search of drunkards and perverts on the streets who would trouble the women, so that they could catch them red-handed and hand over them to the police. They had tremendous success in their effort and the club grew in numbers.
It was on one such case that i had found Nina at the mill. Her friends couldn’t make it that evening, and Nina planned to go for the walk herself. She noticed couple of guys sitting on the wall beside the park, commenting on women passing by. When the little girl had passed the park and turned onto the isolated road, the guys followed her and seeing no one at a distance, tried to harass and steal from her. Nina, who had been watching this from a distance ran towards the mill. Her martial skills had come in handy at the right moment. She fought the guys off and beat them up and tied them to a post.
Hearing her story, i was both surprised and proud of her. It was the need of the hour to protect women, and Nina had taken it upon her self to do the task. Looking back at the naive girl who had come from her home town, she had become a fierce and independent woman, capable of guarding not only her, but also other women in need of help.
I told her how very proud i felt at the moment and that this was a moment of success to be celebrated. The dinner that night was my treat to her for such a brave step taken by Nina. I hope that everyone learns from Nina’s story and they take it upon themselves to help people in need.