Rape Schedule

Picture by Archisman Misra

I am on a rape schedule 
It’s after 10,
the city is receding, 
street lights flickering, 
A murmur of ‘go home’ 
is in the air, 
Audible only 
to my ear .

We had just started talking, 
I was telling him why I chose 
writing over practicing law, 
‘That’s a bold move’ , he said 
I quickly shut the phone screen
that said 5 missed calls

Now I’m not allowed contingencies 
you see
If I said I would be back by 11
I should have been in bed by 10
Or planned all life events before 3
Because I am on a rape schedule

I know this could be a wonderful conversation, and we have only
just begun 
But I’m tracing the map, 
it’s forty minutes to home 
Every passing second, 
another potential rapist gets 
added to the list of ways 
in which a consequential, 
highly avoidable fate is met 
after a night of fun
So I have to go, 
keep the shoe, 
keep my share of the night sky too
Because I am on a rape schedule

My parents have already imagined 
every possible horrendous thing that 
could happen to me 
Their anger is misplaced, 
their logic faulty, 
But can I complain 
if in theory they believe in my freedom
But really just act out of concern for me?

I should be grateful for the sunny patch 
that I’m allowed 
For men who feel responsible for me 
even though I’m better endowed 
For 
everyday that I follow the schedule 
and 
come 
home 
unraped.

Bhavna Bhasin