My mood had been sombre the whole of last week, an under-current of depressive sadness prevailed. Now slowly coming back to normal.
It was after the news that a 41-year-old woman by the name of Prabha Arun Kumar, an Indian National who had been working in Australia for the last three years, was stabbed to death, that too brutally with multiple gashes at the neck. This incident happened in Parramatta suburb of Sydney. Close to my home, Parramatta is my near-regular sojourn so I felt awful.
Even if this tragedy had not struck somebody from my close family or friends yet it felt heavy in my heart. And going by the media news and social media interactions, indeed it was so for all others within the Indian-Australian community as well as for many others within general Australian community. A candle light vigil, a community walk was organised and in another event Sydney Symphony Orchestra paid homage to her.
Prabha was originally from Bangalore, the lovely IT city where I too had an opportunity to live for a few years when I was an Indian resident long ago. She was employed by an IT company in Sydney while her husband and nine-year old daughter lived in India. She came to Sydney for one year thereafter had spent two more years as her contract extended till April 2015. This April she intended to move back to India as her whole family was there.
Smart intelligent women want to work seriously and fulfil their dreams while supportive families provide their full support. Everything great about it.
But last week, that fateful day, she was coming back from work. It was night time around 9 pm. Getting off the train she was walking towards her home and to do this she was crossing Parramatta Park. While walking she was also talking to her husband in India over the phone. She told him there was a big man chasing her, soon after that they heard her screams. Over the phone, her family in India heard her dying. Her nine-year old daughter, who had not seen her mom for a while will now see only her dead body. Prabha lost her life just a few days before she intended to return back to India as her contract was finishing.
Prabha’s story is probably like that of many others. We read such horror stuff almost every day in the media. But when it directly influences our family, our community or neighbourhood, only then we take it personally. Not just for the sake of humanity or empathy but also simultaneously fearing the fact that even our life safety is perpetually under similar threat.
Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs also highlights that after our basic needs are met, safety is our major concern. Thus ridden by fear after such news about killings, we do not want a repeat of what happened so we look for all sorts of answers in such meaningless murders.
People like me, who are a part of the terrified community start deriving conflicting conclusions. That if this murderer guy did not touch the victim’s material possessions, can we then assume the attack was due to her ethnicity, her Indian looks? On top of that she is a woman. But the police opine that the motivation doesn’t seem to be racial, and since the attacker didn’t harm her in any other way, so obviously he wasn’t out to exploit her modesty.
If the attack was neither racially motivated nor about exploiting the weaker gender then it was a random attack by a random hooligan who was in a random mood to kill anyone or everyone. Doesn’t make sense though. Specially when Sydney is supposed to be very safe. As per a new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, Sydney is sixth amongst the world’s top ten safest nations. Melbourne ranks nineth. But it’s no secret now that Melbourne too has seen attacks and similar life-threats on students. The Down Under that our Australia is, compared to other nations it’s always been a very peaceful lucky country with such a vibrant multiculturalism. Personally, I too have never experienced any discrimination ever, rather a very high level of acceptance ever since I migrated. But statistics are conflicting.
Also, so much controversy going on about India’s daughter not being safe in India but she is not safe in Australia too. Are Australia’s daughters completely safe in Australia? I used to be quite fond of going to Parramatta Park but will now be scared to do so, even when I am no more a young girl. But our primary concern is for our children’s safety.
No point over-weighing all possible angles. Although there is never a murder without a motive, often the real motive of such heinous murders remain unknown. In such cases one can only derive that it was about being at a wrong place at the wrong time. A fatal combination of many factors. Firstly, she was walking through that lonely park which she normally considered safe enough. On top of that, walking at the night time which again she normally considered safe enough. Walking alone at night that too being a woman. Now that’s something. Women continue to be an easy target if not protected by father, husband, boy-friend or son. I better stop here or else I will go again to my favorite lecture on feminism.
Till the cops find out, we will look for answers within nature itself. It’s as if Prabha was not meant to go back to her country again. Something called luck or destiny takes a person towards his/her death and as they say, when destiny strikes then there is no escape.
I seem to be a House Divided as I present multiple perspectives on this news-story current in Australian media. I attributed the incident to our essentially evil human nature which is driven towards crime, sin, racism or gender bias. No human, including migrants and women, can ever be completely safe anywhere in the world, what with hidden hooligans all around us.
Other than our unpredictable human nature, I stoically reasoned such incidents to all powerful non-human Nature, which is destiny or God that overawes each one of us from time to time. Death and birth seem to be merely a predetermined coincidence, a part of the overall scheme of nature. What will be, will be.
Along with my above views I also mentioned a sad ironic fact that crime often gets provoked by the risks that the unsuspecting people take, esp. women, when they dare to venture out alone during dark hours. Am I blaming the victim? Not really. Taking precautions is what I suggest to my own family. Till the world becomes crime-free, that’s the best we can do, isn’t it?
Oh well, I do not seem to have found a solution here but I had my say. As Martin Luther said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”
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