Kavya Narang – the girl next door. She is average looking, a regular college goer, not very bright at studies but she manages an average score. She loves swimming and spending time browsing the net.
The day her father gifted her a personal laptop was the happiest day of her life. She would spend hours locked up in her room, drowning in a fascinating new world. Facebook, Instagram, You Tube, SnapChat there was so much. The more she immersed herself in this, the more unhappier she became. For she discovered that she was very ordinary.
Neither was she as pretty as Sameera Khan her senior at college whose Facebook pics got 500 likes nor was she as rich as Rita Sharma whose travel stories were lapped up by 1000’s on Instagram. She wasn’t as talented as Kaveri who posted videos of her playing the piano nor did she have a streak of creativity like Mansi who had written a book at the age of 16 and had 2000 followers on twitter. She was just the average girl who had no special talents, neither beauty nor a lot of money.
She yearned to be famous, she wanted people to like her pics, follow her – she reached a stage where she was willing to do anything for that 6 minutes of fame. Going viral had become the biggest dream of her life.
She thought a lot about what she could do to grab people’s attention online. The attention span was very short, everyone was trying to outwit each other- it had to be something really quirky else there was a slim chance people would even look at it.
She was good at swimming but not someone who could attempt to cross the English channel or set a world record. But perhaps she should attempt recording a video of her swimming – maybe she should try doing something funny in water.
She thought hard about what she could do. For starters she decided the costume she wears should attract people’s attention. She went to the attic and pulled out an adivasi dress which she had worn 3 years back for a folk dance at school. Her mother had lovingly packed away the dress with the ornaments, headgear and a spear. She decided she would wear this when swimming and maybe she could use the spear to attempt some stunts in water.
All set to “go viral” she rose early next morning and took the bus to Shilapur which was 70 kms from the city. They used to visit this village as kids when their grandfather was posted there for a year. She fondly recalled how her brother and she used to take dips in the river. She was visiting this place after years. It was surprising to see that little had changed.
She went near the river and changed into her special attire behind the bushes. Let me spend sometime getting a feel of the water and I can then start my camera she decided. She jumped into the cool water and for a moment forgot about what was her purpose of coming here. She was a child again She splashed the water and swam half a mile.
It suddenly struck her that she was here for a reason. She went back to the shore and got her spear and started wading back into the water to practise some moves.
Before she could dive a loud voice bellowed “hey who are you, what are you doing here?”
She was taken aback and panicked for a moment “I am Kavya I am here to swim”
There were a few men peering her suspiciously. Someone had a mobile phone and he was reading something and whispering in the other man’s ears.
“Come out of the water now and tell us the truth” another man barked.
By now there were 40-50 people looking at her.
She came out of the water, shivering. Something felt sinister. “Run away” her inner voice told her. “Stay calm” that was the rational voice in her head telling her to deal with the situation like an adult.
She looked quite a sight- in her adivasi costume with the spear in one hand and a look of fear in her eyes.
A small boy was looking at her, a twinkle in his eye. He was eyeing her hear gear.
She smiled at him and signalled him to take it
As he moved closer, a burly man held him by the arm
“Don’t go to her, this is how they grab your attention and then kidnap you and sell you off in the city. She is a child lifter. We wont let her get away”
Before she could make sense of what was happening , all the villagers had surrounded her and they started hitting her with whatever they could lay their hands on- sandals, stones, her own spear and some used their bare hands. Her feeble sobs went unheard as the mob went into a frenzy hitting and kicking her.
Her eyes caught a few people filming the scene on their mobile phone.
Videos about a teenage child lifter were uploaded all over and there went viral in minutes. People looked in shock as an innocent girl was lynched by a mob. It received the greatest hits in one day. Not just national but it received international coverage too.
As Kavya’s eyes closed and her heart stopped beating, the last sight she saw was her viral video being shot live. The mobile phone was brought close to her face to capture her last moments as someone in the background hurled abuses at her. “Serves you right you wicked child lifter.”
Author’s note- There have been multiple incidents of mob lynching reported in India in the past few weeks after fake news about child lifters was circulated on WhatsApp. Innocent people were lynched to death by villagers and the videos were posted online. This despite the victims lpeading their innocence. These shocking incidents of brutality left me deeply disturbed and I decided to write about it.
I am participating in the Bar-a-thon Edition 3 and the prompt for today is “6 minutes of fame”
Image courtesy http://thecinema.com