I couldn't have said it better.
Going for a walk at night - alone - such a simple desire. But it really is just a dream.
As a child, and as a teen, I loved going for after-dinner walks with my father. The roads were quiet. Traffic, which wasn't much to begin with, was sparse. My father and I walked, and we talked. And I came back refreshed.
S and I went for a few after-dinner walks after we got married. Not as many as I would've liked, but they were lovely anyway. These became non-existent after Puttachi was born. I sometimes look out of the window at night, and I look at the moon, and feel the breeze and I wonder how lovely it might be to go for a walk.
But what if I did go out? Let me tell you what happened a few months ago. This was after we moved into our new house. Our apartment complex has a fair amount of walking space. Late one night, at about 11 30, just before going to bed, I looked around for a missing water bottle, and I realized that Puttachi must have left it in the children's play area. I wanted that water bottle right away, for some reason, and so I told S that I was going to the play area to see if it was there.
I walked out without a second thought, but the moment I got out of our block, and hit the walking path, I froze. I looked over my shoulder. I crossed my arms across my chest. I looked all around me. I frowned at dark corners, and stared suspiciously at shadows. And I nearly ran. I ran past the mango trees, the cycas, the tamarind trees, past the pool. I passed a night queen plant, and was only vaguely aware of its beautiful fragrance. I reached the play area, and there sat the water bottle, glinting in the moonlight. I grabbed it, turned around, and ran back. I got back home, and S said, "Must have been beautiful outside, right?" And the only thing I could say is, "I didn't notice."
I know that our complex is secure. I don't believe in the supernatural, and I am not afraid of the dark. I was on the walking path, and it was fairly well-lit, so I wasn't afraid of creepy-crawlies in my path. So what was it?
It was the utter unfamiliarity of being alone, outside, when it was dark. My mind, and my body are conditioned to feel unsafe and scared and suspicious in such a situation. And all I could think of was to get back to the safety of my house.
And I hate that feeling.
I want to feel safe. I want to reclaim the freedom that rightfully belongs to every human. But I don't see that happening in the near future.
And that makes me immensely sad.