I cannot breathe.

I could not get my mind to focus. I was watching the new Pirates of the Caribbean and eating a hot dog, “that’s a good way to die right..?”. I had to get rid of these thoughts and instead enjoy the moment but I just didn’t know how to.

In light of several recent events, a new switch in my brain has been created, it’s called the Danger Switch. I am more aware of my surroundings than ever before almost verging on a perpetual state of paranoia. What adds immensely to this paranoia is my need to keep it hidden because this is so far from my actual personality. I dislike being the worrier so now it’s all internal and that worries me.

As soon as the interval ended and Johnny Depp’s beautiful face covered the movie screen, a muffled alarm went off at a distance and at the corner of my eye I could see a light blink. And just like that my heart was in my mouth. I was thinking of escape routes, wondering how to save my family and which side ‘they’ would enter from. I am fully aware that the alarm was muffled because it was not an emergency and perhaps a small system error, but a part of me couldn’t help but wonder if it was their way of warning us without creating chaos. Terrible, traumatizing thoughts that I cannot seem to get rid of.

Recently, at an Ariana Grande Concert several lives were lost. Every morning in the news I hear of several women who were “gang-raped” in my city the day before. Delhi now is on red-alert. The city’s affair with being on red-alert is quite similar to my paranoia, simply put: never-ending. At this moment if you ask me if I am able to breathe in a public location, my answer would be no. I cannot breathe because every time I enter a room with more than 10 people I look at where the exits are situated. I cannot breathe because every time I walk out the door 10 people watch my movements and I have to change my timings daily just to make sure they are always caught off-guard. I cannot breathe because every time I go out with my friends I clutch my phone close to my heart holding the power button that helps me send my family my location in distress because well ‘they’ could enter any time anywhere and also because of that group of boys that is staring at us. I cannot breathe because even when I travel with my family in a car and stop at the traffic light, random men stare at me and stare and stare and stare and green… phew..

I simply cannot smile or feel or breathe and this world has done this to me. I am rude and dismissive of men and paranoid because I don’t feel safe here. There are so many people out there working hard to make sure I do not feel safe. That scares me. I am a scared, young women in a men’s world. Women are never my competition, they are my relief.