Live Responsibly OR Anticipate Death & Destruction

Lovely Sonika Chauhan is lost to us because we propagated wrong values.

Beautful, stunning (slight resemblance to Priyanka Chopra) Sonika Chauhan is gone forever. Smashed, turned to pulp, in a monstrous car accident near Lake Mall in Rashbehari Avenue, Kolkata, so no one will ever know what her last words or last thoughts were. Parents Vijay and Sharon Singh will never see their daughter dressed as a bride, or returning from maternity hospital with a little doll-baby in her arms, carrying the family outstanding looks on to another generation.

Why is everyone crying for ‘justice for Sonika’? Who is responsible for her death? Is it actor Vikram Chatterjee, who was driving the car? Here parents? Sonika herself? Her friends, rivals or enemies? Her educational authorities at La Martiniere and Mount Carmel College in Kolkata who are probably wondering where they slipped up when it came to giving her the foundation basics she ought to have received during her education? Or the googly-goo feminists in India, who are slowly and surely destroying womankind?

I would like to start the blame list with Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, and Max Martin for that disgustingly successful song “It’s My Life”, ironically from an album called ‘Crush,’ released in May 2000. That song unfortunately became the mantra of  youth then, and the philosophy of young people ever since: “This ain’t a song for the broken-hearted …No silent prayer for the faith-departed … I ain’t gonna be just a face in the crowd … You’re gonna hear my voice … When I shout it out loud … It’s my life .”

No, Sonu, (may I use your pet name?), it was not your life alone. Your life was part of the lives of your parents, your school, college families, your profession in modeling and TV, your friends, boyfriends, to Kolkata, to India, and yes, to the world too; above all, to God who created you. You looked so beautiful – your favorite film was In Pursuit of Happyness. Now with one stroke, because of one misguided ‘lark’, you have been wiped off from the face of the earth, long before you were meant to, definitely prematurely, sooner than you could reach the fullness of your potential and the abode of happiness you were in pursuit of.

It is something I would try to convince my Savvy readers about. Being ‘savvy’ is not being ‘street smart’, it is being ‘wise.’ Don’t cut your nose to spite your face. We want ‘equal rights’ – we want to be able to go out late at night as men do, bar-hop, drink and relax, have several rounds of drinks. It’s our ‘right’. We too need to relax. Do that, but why not do it in the safe confines of your friends or your home? Why do parents abdicate on their responsibility – do you feel if your unmarried daughter is earning in lakhs or whatever, she can do what she pleases as it’s her life, she has earned the right to do with it as she pleases and you should not interfere?

As for the young women, high-earning, super confident, a law unto yourselves, you, who encourage or allow yourselves to be persuaded into this late night-drinking-and socializing lifestyle – is this what you want, for this is what it will all boil down to. See yourself as meat, and meat you will become. You can argue forever that all you want is a safe city, you are paying your taxes, you are working hard, and it is the government’s responsibility to keep you safe. The answer you will get forever (from me, at least) is that you are asking for something unrealistic. Personal safety can be guaranteed if we can have a ratio of one policeman to one woman. Is that practical or possible? Okay then, the argument continues, you at least want the offenders to be punished, for police to castrate or (the latest) accord the death sentence.

To what joy? Will hymen be restored, will you ever fully get over the nightmare and horror of rape and molestation? Or, to get back to this case, will (if it is proved he was drunk driving that terrible night) putting Vikram Chatterjee in jail or in a dark pit of solitary confinement, get Sonika back to one day become a bride or present Vijay and Sharon with a heavenly-heights grandchild? If it gives you an outlet for your grief, then go ahead do it, all this ‘Justice for Sonika’ nautanki.

But be honest in the ticking silence of your heartbeat –what did we have in this situation?  – two persons along with dozens of friends downing one peg after another – then two of them, both with highly imbibed levels, leave the scene. If he was drunk, he should have had better sense than to have got behind the wheel. The responsibility was equally hers – if she knew he was drunk, she should not have gone with him. Could it be that her judgment was clouded because she too was under the same haze? And all you friends out there who have suddenly crawled out of the woodwork to demand justice for Sonika – what were YOU doing when two ‘high’ friends of yours were foolishly leaving the venue in that condition? (I am not speaking ill of the dead, I am simply issuing a high alert to the living.)

As for  you, my dear Media – you pretentious volley of vultures, of which I was a part for over three decades, and as much if not more a vulture than any of you (and would have continued to be if Somebody had not come into my life and brought me to my senses), all I would plead is for you to stop propagating wrong values to the women of today. For you and our tribe, Sonika is just another story, stretch it out as much as we can, milk it to the maximum, not letting your viewers or subjects or readers realize that for us, the story will go stone cold as soon as the next one comes along. So stop being a  hypocrite, and please dry your crocodile tears.

Dear Everybody, the fact is that we women cannot do as we please, cannot wear what we desire to, should not go wherever we want at any and every odd hour, drink, dance, and be jolly in public places; we should not even go to work late at night without cover, and without a very real and ever present danger around the corner. Otherwise, the fraternity would not have lost Saumya Vishwanathan of (the then) Headlines Today, shot dead in her car near her southwest Delhi home while returning from work; was found dead with blood oozing from her head.

Car with auto-lock system, pepper spray, screaming, shouting, nothing can prevent harm to women who are out in the late hours, dear colleagues, because we are physically weaker, and even if we were to learn every art of self-defense, we can still be overpowered by a gang of devils. So instead of fighting for justice, media-screamers and shouters, in the daily diet of doom and scandal you dish out – have at least one positive program where you caution women (if you care about them at all) to live wisely for the times are evil, and life is too precious to be lost in this manner.

As for you Jon Bovi & Co. shame on you, and your ungodly lyrics: “It’s now or never … I ain’t gonna live forever … I just want to live while I’m alive … (It’s my life) … My heart is like an open highway … Like Frankie said … I did it my way … I just want to live while I’m alive … It’s my life.”

Is that what we would want Sonika to sing now?


About Ingrid Albuquerque

Ingrid Albuquerque has been in the mainstream media in India for over three decades, and writes mainly on issues relating to everyday life and living.
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