To hell and back

“I was sick of being called ‘Park Street’. I realized that I can’t fight this behind a mask. I had to make the point that we have nothing to be ashamed of. Society should be ashamed to make rape victims feel a stigma. Me? The ‘Park Street Rape Victim’? Bullshit!  I‘m a mother, I’m a daughter, I’m a sister. People depend on me and love me!”

There are stories — of man’s inhumanity to his fellows, for instance — that disgust you, that repel, that provoke rage and grief in equal measure.

There are stories — of the spirit triumphing over tribulation, of dauntless will and bottomless bravery — that give you warm fuzzies; that make you glad you are alive and there is hope for you and your kind yet.

And then there are those rarer stories where both emotions conflate. Stories that make you rage and cheer all at the same time. Stories that plumb inhuman depths and soar to superhuman heights.

This is one such story. Till just a couple of weeks ago, she was a faceless entity. Or no, not even an ‘entity’ — she was a headline only; she was a ‘trending topic’, a Twitter hashtag. She was a statistic; she was grist for nudge-wink-giggle bar-room conversation.

She was ‘The Park Street Rape Victim’.

That is not what it says on her passport; that is not what she was to her mother and her father and her sister and her two daughters and to the small world contained within Kolkatta that she was part of — but that is what she was, that is all she was, to the wide world outside.

Rape shredded her of her dignity, her security, her sense of self. The aftermath abolished her identity.

This is the story of The Park Street Rape Victim Suzette Jordan.

This is the story of a ‘victim’ who decided to become a ‘person’ again.

There is something about the way Suzette Jordan says “my rape” – emphasizing the ‘r’ – that makes you flinch each time you hear it. Life, for Suzette, is divided into two tight compartments: “before my rape” and “after my rape”. She speaks using her whole body as a symbol of protest. She’s fiercely confident and laughs heartily, which are not what a ‘rape victim’ is entitled to be and do.

Commissioned by Nisha Susan (@chasingiamb) and Gaurav Jain (@mau-mauing) for Yahoo, and written by Shriya Mohan, it is a follow-up to Nisha’s timeless piece from yesterday of what every woman should know, and do, in the first 24 hours after rape.

Also, please do read this comment posted by Varunan yesterday, relating to Nisha’s story.