Thinking back, there is one incident that stands out. This happened almost 12 years ago when I was college student. I was hardly the most spectacular “Action Hero”, but I learnt a very important lesson that day: if you don’t stand up for yourself, don’t expect anyone else to.

Anyway, here goes:

I must have been in my first year of college and just started travelling alone by public transport. One day, I was coming home from Connaught Place, Delhi, when a drunken man started troubling me. The bus wasn’t all that full, and he came and sat next to me, tried to paw me.

At first I tried to ignore him. I was rather frightened, to be honest. When I finally gathered my courage to unobtrusively push him out of his seat, he just went and sat in the seat right in front of mine, and continued turning back to talk to me and poke his hands through the backrest. This went on for quite some time, and as scared as I was, I was also embarrassed about making a scene and, consequently, a fool of myself.

Seeing how passive I was, he started getting bolder. He tried to talk to me—fortunately, I couldn’t make out what he said—and then pulled out a bunch of notes from his pocket and pushed the money towards me. That’s when I finally snapped and started shouting and hitting him.

The transformation around me was amazing! Immediately, the bus stopped. The conductor and another man sitting close by hauled this guy up and pushed him out into the street. The driver shouted out, “No, no, don’t make him get off. We’ll take him to the police station!” Apparently, the guy was sober enough to run, and he did.

Someone sitting close by said he’d seen that something was going on, but couldn’t be sure if the guy was really troubling me as I didn’t seem to be reacting! That’s when I realized what a prize ass I was to sit quietly and take it!

I like to cite this incident as an example to young women to show how ignoring the incident or being quiet for fear of embarrassment is not the right way to go. It is never your fault, and the perverts who get their kicks out of harrassing young girls need to be pointed out and ridiculed in public. They are also the worst kind of cowards that can exist and usually turn tail when they see a woman willing to fight back. Even if they don’t, once you take charge, it galvanizes the public around you into action.

And I can definitely say this: when you stand up for yourself, it makes you feel ten feet tall and gives you no end of confidence in yourself. Nowadays, if anyone sidles up to me, I just look them in the eye and say, “Move.” It never fails to send them scurrying.


Posted 22nd March 2007