Chennai is my city, my place, the only one I call home.
But isn’t home where you don’t dress up, where you prefer to lounge in your pyjamas? Isn’t home where you don’t have to be eternally conscious of the way you sit, how you walk, what you wear? Isn’t home the protected territory, a place where you can let your hair down and sing, or dance or jump or just be yourself?
After nearly twenty one years of deluding myself that I was living at home, I moved to US and suffered the worst culture shock of my life. A shock at finding out that being harassed on the streets is not a part of normal life. A shock on realizing that I can walk with my fists unclenched, that I don’t have to be paranoid about any guy who walks near me. A shock at the culture back home which accepts harassment as being normal and had brainwashed me into accepting it, to be silent, to be frightened, to be confused, to feel guilty, to feel ashamed and helpless and to cringe everyday in fear of what is in store.
Nenju porukudhilaye indha nilaiketta manidharai ninaithuvittal.
Anji anji savar, ivar anjadha porulilai avaniyilae!
My heart cannot bear to think of this fallen crowd
Who are scared to death of everything in this world.
I was part of the frightened crowd. I wonder why I never reacted, I wonder why I never complained. Why did I take it with nothing more than brimming eyes and a nasty taste in the mouth?
I don’t know.
For that rainy night when I ran towards a lighted shop seeking refuge instead of poking my umbrella at the motorcycle wheel and bringing the idiots to a bloody crash,
For that travel in the bus when I clenched my teeth and unsuccessfully tried to stamp his feet instead of turning around and screaming or slapping,
For that time when I looked away instead of staring down the cowards,
For the countless times that I tried to armor myself with my backpack instead of punching their face with it,
For all those times I cowed down and walked to my house instead of taking the bus,
I write this post.
I refuse to be scared anymore. I refuse to be harassed anymore. Street harassment is not normal. It is sickening. Don’t take it.
- Action Hero Dreamweaver