It was on a busy evening almost 8-9 years back, and is just one among the many such incidents i have had to tackle. I had boarded the bus after my classes in University and was on way back home. The bus was too crowded, but I still managed to squeeze in as I was feeling a little too tired and clumsy that day -- perhpas the day wasn't that good or just overworked.
(In Kerala, buses generally have two different doors - the front one for women and the back one for men.- And also, the seating arrangement is somewhat like that where the front rows are reserved for women; the general seats come behind these). The bus was so crowded people did not even have place to stand. Men were jostling against each other everywhere. i could not even see a single woman except in the first row window seat. And because of that only, the man in the aisle seat near the door got up when he saw me (as the seat was resrved for women). I occupied that seat next to another man who was dozzing off in the window seat. To be frank, I was not very comfortable and was very very cautious when I sat there because of the crowd of men falling from every side on me and seat is particularly vulnerable because of the positioning. I was having a difficult time not to fall off because of the high speed of the bus and also the curved roads.. yet i was aware of each movement around me (as any girl in Kerala would be, while travelling in a bus). 10-15 minutes and then suddenly I felt a hand moving on my right thigh. I fidgetted, the hand came still, but sat firmly there only on my thigh. I could not see the hand there, because of the crowd around me. I managed to look around and up and tried to find out whose hand it could be. And when I realized it, the man was so cold, non-challant and started looking in another direction. As if he did not know what is happening. The hand remained there. I touched him, and called out to remove his hand. I said this in normal voice and not very loudly. Many such people, i have seen before had responded to this kind of direct, confrontations. But, he was standing there as if I was talking to someone else. I was embarassed a bit more now as other men around were looking at me. I knew very well they all know what might have happened -- if not exactly what has happened, but some sort of violation on my self -- but none asked anytying except looking back at me. I kept quite for a while undecidedly - may be a few seconds-- and his hand was moving again. This time my voice was louder so that eveyone else around could hear. And I stretched my hand up and patted him on his shoulder - he tuned back and stared at me. I looked back in his eyes and told firmly to take his hand off. a second or two passed - the hand remained still. My voice was raising, and it asked him to take it off again. And he did. I didnot see him again, as he receded and merged into the crowd behind.But, yes, it had worked; also the crowd around me moved a little here and there to give me more comfortable sitting space and the guys whose butts were just in front of me were now stretching and repositioning themselves so that even accidentally no one touched me.
Many such mortifying incidents happened over years --- the first one I could remember is at the age of 8-9 -- Yet this one is something where I talked back with so much of definiteness/ and confidence.. and I think it paid off.
TIME: 4 30 PM
current age: 31
age when expereinced it: 22
emotions: humiliation, insult, embarassment
Posted 9th April 2008