I still remember that day. It was a cold winter evening, around 6 o'clock. I was taking the DTC bus 588 to go to my nani's place. It had started getting dark. I was just a couple of bus stops away. The bus, like always, was crowded. Since I was sitting at the back, I got up to move towards the front door, otherwise you sometimes miss the stop.
As I moved, I felt someone trying to brush up against me. I looked around and gave a stare to the man behind me while trying to rush through. Within seconds, I felt it again and now the guy just stuck on to me. I felt sick and yelled hard, giving him an indignant look. I generally try to create a scene by yelling so that I bring it to people's attention and the person generally stops due to embarassment. It always worked. But this time it did not. The guy yelled back at me using abusive words, to my utter shock and continued. No one said a thing. Everyone was looking though. Like you watch a goat sacrifice. This has to happen. This is its destiny. Our prayers and wishes for you. But we wouldn't raise a voice. Perhaps we don't have one. I felt scared but I was also angry. I shouted hard for the bus driver to stop the bus, I wanted to get down. The driver stopped the bus for me, thankfully.
Or I thought. That guy got down behind me. By that time, I started losing my nerve. I could feel myself trembling inside. I did not expect it to stretch like this. Since where I got down was just a few meters ahead of a bus stop, I tried to rush to the stop. There were people there. I tried to hide around behind people, poles, shadows so that he couldnt spot me. He was looking for me though. And all this while, I was thinking, what to do next. A bus was out of question for obvious reasons. There were auto-rickshaws. I quickly decided to take the auto. I ran, and asked an autowallah if he would drop me at Lodhi Road, I would pay more. He agreed immediately. But to my shock again, this guy came out of nowhere. He grabbed me by my shoulder and touched my face with his hands while talking some abusive stuff. I shrieked with fear, shook myself off and tried to get into the Auto. That guy started forcing himself inside the auto. And the stupid autowallah was watching as if in an eternal dilemma of what to do. I jumped out of the other side and ran across the road. And I dint see whether there was traffic coming. I just ran for my life. Thankfully,I remembered that I had an old batchmate Ruchi, living very close by. I just ran to her house. Things were fine after that. She pacified me, shared her experiences and dropped me to my nani's place.
I could not muster the courage to take 588 for almost a year after that. I was 19 then. After a few years when we bought a car, I stopped travelling by buses in Delhi completely. And I have never boarded a bus since then. Not that I have not had experiences in other places, but you just do not want to be part of that crowd specially when you know no one would do a thing in your support.
I sincerely appreciate the Blank Noise project and support the cause whole-heartedly. Please visit http://blanknoiseproject.blogspot.com to learn more about it.
- Action Hero Archana Bahuguna