I didn’t know her, neither did most of us. And now we never will.

She could have been my friend or yours. She could have been your neighbour or your aunt’s neighbour, the girl you saw on the bus one busy morning. She could have been the friend of the bride at a wedding next year. She could have been the person behind you in the queue at the markets, the person who ordered ice-cream at the restaurant while you placed your order. She could have been so many things. She could have been alive.

Every mundane choice that we have the luxury of today and tomorrow and perhaps after that, every damned thing we will do or not do will be an obscene opulence from now on. Because, that nameless girl has finally run out of them. I wondered what to eat for dinner and I tidied up my kitchen and I made a folder for school slips. Because I have a million choices. Because it is mostly a safe country here and the law listens and the law is alive and cases are resolved and there is a body that protects.

The law loses its battle the day it starts blaming the victim. A firefighter attitude is what we have when things fail. Only a calamity brings us together, only a blaze keeps us together.

But. A nation needs a sharp and spiteful memory. A nation should not always forget and forgive.  A nation should hold on to old wounds and guard its battle scars so that it always remember how to protect itself.

RIP dear friend, sister, daughter. I cannot promise that you will be the last. You need mountains of faith for those kinds of statements. I don’t have that belief in mankind at this moment. I cannot promise that no other girl will meet your fate because other girls probably will – it took millions of years for the neanderthals to morph into Homo sapiens. Perhaps that metamorphosis is still in progress, perhaps a million years down the line, there is hope.

I promise though that I shall do what I can to save a sister, a daughter, a woman if I see them being harmed.

I promise to listen, to make a noise.

Mostly though, I promise, that I will not give up hope so that your death is not in vain. I am not going to say that the situation won’t change in India or elsewhere. I am not going to pretend it doesn’t exist. I am not going to sigh and say my prayers and wait for peace.

I am going to live with hope from this moment because you deserved it.

Because, hope, my dear, departed friend is what kept you going.

So, sleep well tonight. Our battles have just begun.

There is hope. There is always hope. On the days, there is nothing else, there is damned and thriving and pulsating hope and the promise of a sunrise.