From my first time on a local bus till date, it has been a constant battle. I remember the first time a disgusting hand gropped me. I was 15 then. I was so scared, that I didn't want to continue with my tuitions. My parents were understanding, they arranged for alternative means of transportation. A temporary respite. In college it began again. Everyday in the bus it was about surviving without an incident that leaves you feeling flithy and disgusted. Everyday was about self preservation through the public transport system. If you asked me for a profile of the kind of men to stay away from in the buses, I won't be able to. I have seen these men come in all ages, in all forms. From words, to looks , to gestures, to trying to touch you .. they will do anything.
Within a year I learnt how to stop being a victim and start protecting myself. Return the look with the stare that tells them you are not scared, Raise your voice and get the crowd on your side.. in metros men will be ready to beat up almost anyone, as if to release all their frustrations. I learnt to do it all.
But it wasn't enough. Because I wasn't the only one going through this. I protected myself, but then I would see other women, girls going through the same thing. Probably they had learnt to keep quiet rather than raise your voice. My reactions were still the same... The same disgust.
I would see the same looks, gestures, hands targetted at others. I knew I couldn't sit silently so I raised my voice again.
So instead of trying survive the bus myself, my fights became about making sure that others survived it too.
Yes, I learnt to survive. That is not the point. The point is Why did I need to learn it? What is wrong with this society that a girl has to fight her away through a 15 min trip on a public bus. When did we become so depraved?
The question I can't help asking is how much longer do I need to keep fighting? Can someone please answer...
-Action Hero Neha Paruthi