The First Question

What were you wearing?
People ask the young girl
Who fought wars inside her head
To finally confess that the 45-year-old local tea seller near their house
The same one who would enter their house to play with her
Now scans her growing body
“You should have covered yourself when he came around,” they say.

Why did you let it happen?
The so-called overprotective boyfriend asks his girlfriend
When his close friend thought it was okay to touch her without consent
At a party where there seems to be no end to the blasting music,
He then screams, “You should have told him you had a boyfriend.”
The music stopped there.

Did you say no?
The family asks when their daughter was touched inappropriately
By the old uncle who would forcefully make her sit on his lap
Give her chocolates to lure her to make it look playful
“You should have told him you did not like it,” her mom says
Tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.

Why did you trust him?
The society points fingers
At a dead woman who was murdered gruesomely by her live-partner
The one she loved, adored and cared for.
“She shouldn’t have married him. Why did she live with him if he was like this?
You should never leave your parents for anyone,” everyone says.

It’s not us. It’s you.
Change the first question.

Anisha Reddy is a journalist from Bengaluru. Amidst hunting for stories, she finds time to string together personal experiences into a poem.

Featured image: Pexels