Guddi The Brave Runner - A woman athlete's fight for survivalGuddi was angry. She'd been angry for over a year now since they released her. So, she ran faster, like a maniac, pretending that the synthetic turf was the red earth of her home in the hills. Her coach asked her to take it easy.
"What's the use? I'm not likely to run in competitions anymore," she'd think, in her weakest moments, ashamed of such thoughts later. But, sometimes it was hard to not be cynical.
The cameras had stopped following her. But both when they'd loved her and when they'd violated her, they'd never really seen her anger. She'd always been calm.
She was an excellent runner, but her strong, sinewy thighs and square jaw, became her biggest nemesis.
She'd a mole on the inside of a foot. It meant she would travel, and that had been true enough. 'But it doesn't bode well for a girl to have such a mole; she should be anchored and steadfast', said the villagers. For a long time when she was running, every few months for the state and then the country, and travelling to new places, the prophecy of the mole came true. She was awed by the significance a spot the size of a poppy seed on her body could have. Now she'd come to realise that the mark meant she'd never settle down.
She remembered that time, in the police van, before the door was unlocked; she had been ready to leap to her feet. She had tried to imagine the distance to the door of the hospital. This was unknown turf. And she had misread people before. It was easy to lose their love. There were accusing faces outside.
Someone barked an instruction.
Cameras flashed; odd, how the cameras had once loved her. Faces peered through the small opening. Vulture eyes swarmed over her body.
She wanted to shout "If you just open the door, I'll make a run for it."
But the policeman wore a sneer and so she kept her eyes lowered and face averted.
The lonely red roads of a home in the hills flashed across her mind. No judging faces unlike here, the place she had chosen to live. She'd only wanted to run.
There was a shout and the door slid open. The light hit her and she was up and moving fast. The faces swamped her like ghosts. Today they were going to find out if she was man or woman. They'd probe her with cold fingers because the medals she'd won had now made her womanliness questionable.
This was over a year ago. Since then, Guddi's anger had bubbled quietly. She wasn't running competitions anymore, she was teaching girls to run. And five-days-a-week, she sat in a railway office checking receipts. It was when she ran that the anger came free and wildly carried her farther than she'd ever been. Guddi knew that this anger would help her teach the girls better. Teach them, never to bow down like she hadn't.
My entry for the International Women's Day contest.
The story demonstrates the pain and humiliation women athlete endure when their identity is doubted. Imagine the embarrassment and the suffering they go through because they look too masculine. Imagine having to live with the focus of the entire world on you; questioning your womanliness. This story salutes the courage and strength of the women who have been through this trauma. Salute to them for surviving the ordeal and facing the world that shamed them.