She stood there in front of the mirror cradling her baby bump. A strong and beautiful woman stared back at her with brooding eyes. Of late she had an anxious feeling that just won’t get out of her. When she told her husband he just teased that her maternal instincts had kicked in earlier. Maybe it’s true in an odd sort of way; maybe she is worried about her baby. But she knew that none of the others could understand or know in certain about her worries and concerns. True to their early marriage pact they did not venture out for sex test for the baby, and it worried her what she will do if it was a girl. She was brought up in a family where girls were considered to be the boon of the family. They were treated on par with the goddess who brings wealth and happiness to the family. Every member of the family took care to see that the princess of their home was treated royally. There were brothers to safeguard you round the clock. The home was a cocoon where they thrived and grew wings. But it was sometime before she realized once you are out of the cocoon the world could treat you in appalling ways. There are shadows lurking not only in dark alleys but even in bright daylight. That hurried walk to reach home during late nights, those heart thumping moments when there were no one else in the street, those irritating comments and excuses that has to be dealt with daily, going under the scanner day after day in street, office and even in temples. There was a certain point of time when she realized that “come back home on time”, “don’t go out alone”, “that is not a safe place for girls” were not alone a mother’s concern, but they were a wise lady passing on her experiences so that someone else may not have to learn it the hard way. She could empathize very well with her mother now. She had stopped reading the newspaper altogether, every time she opened the paper her eyes were drawn like a magnet towards the news of violence against women and sexual harassment against women. She suffered a surge in her blood pressure for a few days after she read about the sexual abuse of a 3 year old child. Aren’t we the nation that prided itself as being the cultural crown of the world where women were treated with reverence? Doesn’t half our deity stand judgement to that very fact? What went wrong? Where are we headed? “A 17 year old girl molested by a group of men in the middle of the road”, “An office cab carrying four women was stranded in a dark alley surrounded by four leering men”, “Women and girls comprise 80 percentage of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked annually, with the majority (79 percentage) trafficked for sexual exploitation”, “An estimated 150 million girls under 18 suffer some form of sexual violence every year”. Facebook, radio, news channels, office gossip – somehow everywhere the news about violence against women seems to pop out and she had a hard time not to concentrate on them and an even more hard time not to connect it with her baby. With a sigh, she gave her stomach another gentle rub and the baby responded back with a little kick, gone as soon as it came. At that moment a pure joy coursed through her, a joy only a mother can understand, a joy that gave women their primitive strength and confidence, and she vowed and promised to her baby that she will keep her safe regardless of whatever it takes. Exactly how every mother promised her daughter throughout the ages. A Son’s Promise: Inside the womb he felt safe and warm, but he could sense the discomfort his mother has been going through for the past weeks. She was worried about the baby, him. He so much wanted to reach out and tell her that he is perfectly alright and he understood her concerns. He wanted to assure her that he is not like the bad people that she feared about, he will be his mother’s son; he will treat women with dignity and respect that will make her proud. He felt her hands give him a gentle rub and stretched out to reach her and the moment they touched he could feel her anxiousness melt away. He rejoiced in her happiness finally having convinced her and went back to his blissful happy dreams. Maybe this is how we can make her feel safe, passing on mother’s wisdom to every son in the womb. Make him understand the life’s lesson before he sets foot onto the corrupted reality. Let us take an oath to pass on the lesson. Let’s make the earth a safe place for her to walk on.

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