When the oblivion of darkness opened its eyes and the sun hid its rays, my footsteps rushed toward the light beneath the street lamps. Always walk away from the darkness or they could take a chance, just as they did with Mary.

Stepping out late from the office was not in the offer letter. Walk hastily past the men whose eyes pry, lest they catch hold of me. They mustn’t grab my arm, the way they grabbed Therese.

A message from home, ‘leave soon but not alone.’ My mobile screen stared back at me, shining the truth of its light upon my words untrue, ‘Am not alone’. Loved ones need not fear, they’re better off breathing easy. They shouldn’t fear for me, just as Magdalene’s parents did.

Be not afraid. Walk firm amid the crowd of unknown men. Some good-willed, some with other intentions. Just a little touch and they’re satisfied. Just a little more – bonus! Stay alert! Stay sharp with eyes in all directions. Let not a hand or a finger or a shoulder brush me and I shall let no one take a chance, just the way they did with Esther.

They may stare at what is a part of my human self; they may walk suspiciously toward me. I shall walk firm in the eye of the monster. Use my bag, the fisted arm to push them away and not let them take a chance just as they did with Faustina.

Their eyes alert, their gait intriguing. They walk ahead with eyes at the back. They watch where I go. They keep an eye. I have to dodge them; mustn’t let them follow me just as they followed Judith.

Don’t walk into that dark alley. It may be a shorter road to reach home faster but the longer route is better preferred. Always walk where there’s a crowd – safe or unsafe – walk not alone. Dark alleys without the light are alleys filled with men of the night. I shall not go into that lane, just as Teresa did.

Never may I be safe in the crowded streets. However, is any girl ever? Have I worn the wrong attire today? Should I have been traditional? Is it my mistake for being touched yet again? I may never comprehend what they meant when they said, ‘she should have not worn western’.