She died. The nation mourned her trauma, suffering and ultimate death. The doctors at the Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi did the best that medical advancements could do. She was flown to Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore as a last ditch attempt to succeed. But it was to be otherwise! She breathed her last in the Singapore hospital, robbed of the opportunity to be on the soil of her country in her last moments!
Who was she? Nobody knows her name, except her family and friends, but still everybody was crying for her, suffering acute agony in the silence of forcibly held tears. Even without knowing her name, more than a billion souls cried silently in India and also abroad. The people were very angry, so much so that anything could have happened. She was adopted by the nation. She was given names like Damini and Nirbhaya etc. People want to address such a fairy of their heartfelt identity. These names convey a meaning of their own idea of such a person in whom they see the fighting spirit of a girl compared to the power of lightening or the fearless one. Considering the love she has won from the people from all walks of life, of all ages & genders, from school children to the university graduates and the personal identification with that girl, I would call her “Laadli” or the dear one! It is a Hindi Language word, especially in the city of my birth place- Karauli in Rajasthan of India- which envelops a cultural connotation too. It means the one dear to everyone from the grandparents on the father’s side and the mother’s side and brothers & sisters and cousins and even good neighbours. One who has won the affection of everyone. Such an emotion is felt in the literary process of “universalization “while watching a Shakespeare tragedy like Hamlet or a Greek tragedy, when the audience identifies itself with the protagonist and undergoes the pains of the suffering of the protagonist. It happens rarely that the Individual becomes the Nation in a tragedy of this kind. The nation will remember her Laadli for a very long period.
The tragic reality is that Laadli is gone, but the “girl” survives. She is asking Bapu (Mahatma Gandhi, The Father of the Nation) why she is not safe in the courtyard of her father? This cultural meaning can be appreciated with a little attention to the traditional upbringing of the girl child in India, where she felt free and absolutely secure in playing around in the courtyard or the backyard of her home. The elders were her protectors and the children of her age her friends. She lived happily under the protective cover of her brothers and sisters, which included the neighbours and even the village folks. It was a precious value in social relations. It was a matter of positive attitude. It was the norm of social behaviour. The Society conducted its affairs without too much of policing or judges; it ran its own social order. The girl asks Bapu (a term of address for the father), “What has happened in a few decades of Independence?” She pronounces that she was safer under the British Rule than under the rule of our own government. She compares her safety under the two regimes because she feels threatened, frightened, scared, insecure, worried and depressed all the time. She is unable to sleep, disturbed by the cries of Laadlis suffering almost every hour! She is not buying the government assurances that it would ensure that such incidents do not occur in future, because more than one such incidents have occurred even before government finished pronouncing its resolve.
Laadli has merged into the “Panchbhoot”. What has been destroyed is not Laadli, but her physical form, comprising five elements of earth, water, air, fire & space. She came to serve humanity. She came to serve the people in India. Had she lived in her physical form, she would have become a Physiotherapist. A physiotherapist helps in the rehabilitation of the acutely suffering patients, who can’t be treated by any medical or surgical procedure alone. For a genuine appreciation of the painful sufferings of a patient in need of rehabilitation by a physiotherapist one has to visit a hospital. The suffering is more than what the religious treatises have described in hell. And India was suffering from such a condition, which required immediate neuro-physiotherapy before it suffered the fate of Laadi in the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore. And Laadli served her nation very well indeed: before merging into the Panchbhoot, she has shaken the neurotically suffering Indian Society, Indian Nation & the Indian Governments at the Centre as well as at the States. People carried big placards with words like “Enough Is Enough” or “No More” written on them. That is rehabilitation of a terminally sick society into which India has been driven by the mal-governance of the past 5 decades. People rue the total apathy of the other people who don’t help the needy in cases like accidents or murders or rapes, but ignore the obnoxious fact that it is due to a sustained attack on whatever is called Indian. See the television serials or films or debates or commercialization of art, literature etc and you would never blame people. The existing Indian Social Order stands replaced by the New Indian Social Disorder today. Laadli is a telling manifestation of it. Until it gets substituted by a new Indian Social Order fulfilling the social aspirations all citizens, there can be no sincere assurance to the effect that such incidents will not be allowed to recur in future. Till such time the girl lives under the fear of a repeat of such incidents, Laadli will remain with us. She will be known to various people by various names. After all, what is there in a name? Do the stars have a name? But still they twinkle for us. Watching the stars makes us happy always. Laadli too has become a star, in her shookshma shareer or soul form. She will twinkle for us from above, inspiring us to protect the girl, love her & respect her. Only Dhruv Taaraa has been given a name by India. Let us give another name Laadli to the star next to it. The President of India can consider conferring on her the Padma Vibhushan this coming 26th January 2013 for her valuable services as the Neuro-physiotherapist of the Indian Society.