It could have been Me. It's just that I was plain luckier and she was not. Once, I too along with my boy-friend was surrounded by such uncouth men in a bus which took us to the reputed Jaypee Institute located in the heart of Noida. We only suffered an act of pick-pocketing and a violent push from behind when we were about to step down. If not, it could have been Me. I am sacred and sad and terrified beyond words. I can’t thank my stars enough. But that doesn't make me feel any better. That does not does not make me to wipe my tears and count my blessings.
Not to mention how we girls get assaulted every single fucking day that it has become such an integral part of our lives and hence has stopped bothering us. We have accepted it as a part of our daily life. Just the way we are unaffected by the change of days to evenings and finally to nights, we are impassive to the assaults we go through. So much so we don’t even bother to tell our family and friends about it until and unless it is not a li'l more than the regular things. Yes! eve-teasing, molestation, getting raped through those bastards’ lustful eyes, ugly/vulgar remarks, and lewd comments have become a regular and a very normal thing for/to us.
I have stopped boarding buses long back. But I could never tell my parents that how actually the men molest us there. They do it not only by touching us here and there and by passing comments, but also by masturbating then and there right inside the bus. I have suffered it myself many a times. It had always made me feel disgusted, used, like an object, dirty, and many more such things for which I am finding hard to express. But on the face of that man I have always seen a SMIRK that marks his filthy satisfaction. Satisfaction of trampling and objectifying one more girl. Satisfaction of being the Powerful and THE REAL MAN. I, on the other hand, like many other girls, had shed silent tears and had left the bus. Later on I learned to shout and yes had made it a habit to always carry a pin with me. But since the time I started earning; I, over being subjected to such filthy acts preferred not to travel by bus anymore. I stopped. Many more girls stopped. Majority of us remain silent. But they- the REAL MEN continued forever. Passing the baton from generation to generation.
Nevertheless Safety, Respect, Freedom still elude me. While I left travelling via bus for good, in Auto, I am never sure about whether he will ever take the right rout or not. A recent episode where the Autowala was so keen to drop me someplace else all in the pretext that it would be nearer to my place and by that I won’t have to walk that extra 5-10 min or so. He even dared to turn towards the other side and stopped only after I gave him my solid piece of mind. “Madamji aap to vishwas hi nahi karti ho.” was his gory reply. It left me baffled and induced in me the habit of being extra vigilant of the routes from now. On the other hand while I walk on the roads, I am unsure of which path would be the safest one to tread upon. I have been verbally abused by men even on so called safe roads too. Don't ever think that Residential roads are safe and sound. These Real Men become Animals not only in shady areas and at nights only. Don’t forget there’s no place for a Woman. Their barbarism knows no end be it Anywhere, Anytime, Anyways. Else there would have never been any act where a girl- be it an old, grown-up, child or even a baby is raped in places like office, school and colleges and not-to-mention inside the four walls of her own HOME- the safest place in the whole world.
Like my own shadow, Rape and Assault and Barbarism follow me everywhere. He takes it as his birthright and I take it as one of the many normal things that take place in my day-to-day life. And no I am not complaining about it, neither protesting nor am I affected by it. Not anymore. But I did once and for that the society snapped ME back. So Not anymore. Not anymore. And why to? Isn't it as natural to me as breathing is?
Image courtesy: Cartoonist Satish Acharya.