Some years ago I played a small role in saving a young woman from getting raped in Delhi. The happenings of that night are still etched in my memory.
At that time, I used to go for a late evening walk in a sprawling park partly hugging a women's hostel in Saket in south Delhi.
I used to take five rounds of the ground, walking on its winding stone-laid walkway.
That night, as I was ending my fifth and final round, I decided to take another round.
That split second decision ended up saving the young woman.
Incidentally, the park was always pitch dark at night. The powerful sodium lights never worked those days.
It was dark that night too. Those of us who walked did so thanks to the moonlight, and the little light that came from houses on three sides of the ground.
As I began my sixth round, I thought I heard a sharp yelp. I stopped and looked towards the sound, into darkness. I thought it was a puppy. I began walking again.
In no time, I heard the sound again, this time a little more sharply. And this time I stood and watched intently into the middle of the park where I thought I saw some shadows.
A young man who had by then appeared near me was equally intrigued. I still thought it was a puppy in distress. He insisted that it was a young woman.
The moment he said it, I took off - towards the sound, into pitch darkness.
As I ran, I shouted the choicest obscenities. The young man sprinted behind me.
Even as I ran, I saw three figures - silhouettes actually - suddenly take off from where I had seen something move a little earlier.
The figures - three men - fled in the opposite direction and disappeared into the darkness.
When I reached the spot, the middle of the ground, I noticed a young woman, in her mid-20s, sprawled on the ground, her clothes in disarray.
And she was screaming at the top of her voice.
I told her in Hindi, and then in English, that there was no danger to her any more and urged her to calm down. But she kept screaming, all the time staring at me, her face enveloped in terror.
By then, five or six walkers had also reached the spot.
Eventually, the woman staggered and stood up, adjusted her clothes and began to cry.
I asked her gently (no one else did any talking) where she was coming from.
She mumbled an answer.
I asked her if she wanted police to be summoned. No, she said. Do you want me to walk with you till your home? No. Do you need any help, please? No. Do you want to go to the police station? No.
After a while, she walked away, still crying.
The next morning, on my way to work, I stepped into the Saket police post, then located near the PVR cinema complex.
The station in-charge wasn't there. I told a policeman on duty what had happened the previous night at the park.
His face showed no emotion. He had a quizzical look that seemed to throw a question at me: So?
I thought briefly. I surmised - rightly or wrongly I am not sure - that I should not be the one filing a complaint. In any case, I had no one to back up the story.
It was one more attempted rape in Delhi, foiled thanks to God. The police records would never show the crime took place.
(29-12-2012-M.R. Narayan Swamy is a senior journalist. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)