After a hard day’s work Jacob was taking a few puffs of his cigarette walking along the beach. The waves were shoring up and he was lost in some thoughts. Robert came up to him with a pack of roasted peanuts from his shop.
Jacob started looking for a place to sit and munch his peanuts while watching the sunset. This was his daily routine after work. The sun was almost setting into the sea and its last few rays fell upon the water radiating some kind of energy that made Jacob forget his exhaustion.
Just then Jacob saw a figure at a distance on the wooden bridge that was built into the sea for fishermen. He started walking towards the bridge. As he got closer he saw that it was a young girl who was sitting almost at the edge of the bridge with her back towards him and her legs dropped into the sea water.
He reached the wooden bridge and started walking towards the girl. As he got closer he could judge that she was in her late teens. She looked back when his first step shook the bridge a bit. She looked away soon. He went up to her and asked, “Young lady, why are sitting here all alone at this time of the day? Go home. It’s getting darker and this is not a safe place.”
She looked at him, but did not respond.
He said again, “Go home. It’s getting dark. Your people will be looking for you.”
When she didn’t respond, he offered her the packet of peanuts.
She looked up and said, “Why can’t you leave me alone? Go away. Just go!”
Jacob sensed that she was depressed. He started to go back but then something inside him told him to stay right there. He went a few steps ahead and sat down on a wooden bench. He popped the peanuts one by one as he watched her actions carefully.
When the sun completely set into the sea, she stood up, leaned over a little. Took a few steps back, looked up at the sky, spoke a few words to herself and was about to move closer to the edge again when Jacob reached for her hand and pulled her back.
“What the hell is wrong with you? Why are you here? Leave me alone I said.” She yelled.
“What is wrong with you? Why are you here at this time of the day all alone? Now don’t tell me that you’re here measuring the depth of the sea or counting the stars in the sky.” Jacob yelled back.
The girl was startled and started crying uncontrollably. He tried consoling her but to no avail.
After a few minutes he said, “What is it that is bothering you? Did someone cheat you? Did someone hurt you? Did you flunk in exams? Or were you rejected at some interview? Or is it something to do with a boyfriend?”
She simply nodded in disagreement. Jacob said, “In that case, go home and be at peace. Don’t trouble your old parents.”
At this she looked at him with eyes full of tears and before he could comprehend anything from her actions, she hugged him tightly. Within a few minutes when she regained the sense of the place and the situation, she pulled herself back and sat down on the bridge weeping loudly.
Jacob went up to her and asked, “What??? Why the hell are you girls so difficult to understand? Why can’t you speak up? Can I be of any help?”
She composed herself and said, “No. Thank you! Just leave me alone.”
Jacob said, “I would have gone and left you all alone. But now that I am well aware that your intentions are not good, I cannot go back and sleep peacefully. Tell me. What is it that is bothering you?”
She kept quiet.
Jacob asked, “Are you pregnant with someone’s child?”
She nodded in agreement.
He said, “Then what’s the trouble? Your parents? His parents? That is all solvable. Why do you girls resort to such stupid ways?”
She said, “There is no trouble. But there is no other way out.”
Jacob asked, “Why? Is he already married? Or is he dead?”
She said, “He is married. And has a daughter.”
“Then you should go and confront him.” He said.
“How can I confront my own father who is also the father of my child?”
The packet of peanuts slipped from his hands as he stood there frozen. The peanuts rolled a bit on the wooden planks and then they slipped through the gaps into the sea, just like her tears.
As the night fell Jacob sat next to her on the wooden bench and she was still crying uncontrollably. He had no solution for her. But he didn’t want to leave her behind to die for no fault of hers.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~It’s a sad state of affairs that in most cases of rape, sexual assault or child abuse, the offenders are acquainted with their victims. Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim. It is absolutely wrong to entirely blame the lower working class of being the offenders because such cases happen in and around the high-profile circle too. Wife swapping is very common in many business families where they engage in this crime irrespective of the consent of the female in order to get benefits out of their business partners. Women and children are equally unsafe within the four walls of their house irrespective of the social, educational and economic backgrounds that they belong to.