Today evening as I left work, I was in a good mood. It was drizzling slightly and I simply love the rains. I usually take an auto back home but I saw the bus approaching which goes to my home, I decided to hop in. Happy that it was mostly empty, I got a window seat in the left aisle and sat down.
Sitting behind me were two men, one who seemed half asleep and the other just sitting nonchalantly. As soon as I kept my rucksack (yes I carry a rucksack to work!) on my lap, I felt a hand move, trying to touch my back. Now living in a city like Delhi, you always feel that you are about to be groped, especially in a bus. I got a little wary though giving benefit of doubt to the men behind me. I mentally chided myself for imagining things as I continued to enjoy the scenery outside, lush green trees and a beautiful evening sky. Suddenly I felt a hand groping my back. Not a hand carelessly brushing past my back, a hand which purposely touched me. I turned back to address the culprit. One man was sitting with his hands folded and the other was asleep. I couldn't figure out who did that to me.
I turned towards my right now, almost facing the right aisle and in the corner of my eye I could see the movement of hands of both men. I was fuming from inside, feeling humiliated and treated like an object of someone's pleasure. Ten minutes later, the supposedly sleeping man did the same thing again.
Unable to control my fury, I got and up pulled his hair, so he could face me and slapped him. I told him to keep his hands to himself and after his protest that he was not doing anything wrong, I slapped him again. Everyone in the bus was looking at me, this was like a free ka tamasha for all and not a single person stood up to support me. Not that I expected anyone to.
After the fury subsided, I felt scared. What if he would have whipped out a knife or a pistol? What he comes tomorrow with four other men and tries to take 'revenge'? My pepper spray or karate moves will be of no help at all. Police inaction is well known too. It is this fear that mostly stops women from speaking out.
And even though incidents like this cannot break my spirit, as a woman living in this country I wonder how many will I feel violated and agonized? How many times will I retaliate and how many times will I fight? How many times will I keep quiet? Will I ever be able to use the public transport without feeling wary, without being on guard? Will I be able to walk on the streets without prying eyes looking at me? Will I ever be free?
P.S : I hope he learnt his lesson well and will never try to grope another woman ever. If he hasn't... there is no hope for this country.
Posted 22nd March 2007 by J