I stopped wearing red.

Making our way through busy Dadar station market, mom and dad lugged me through the crowds without realizing what their little one was about the experience that day. The crowd didn’t bother me. I was still distracted, as a normal child would be at 9 yrs of age. I was stopping at every shop window admiring the stuff while dad kept pulling me, getting angry and repeating something about missing the train and that it was going to be so crowded now. We got into the mob of commuters at the station, and before I knew what was happening I felt someone touch my bum crack. No, not a hand brushing against it. And in a minute the same hand on my crotch. I could hear my heart beat louder but I couldn’t stop, I couldn’t scream. It continued till we waited while my dad got tickets for us. I remember standing on the side still holding my mum’s hand. But I couldn’t see, or didn’t dare to see who was feeling me up. I was desperate to hop on to the next coming train, but dad thought it better to miss this one. I was nervous as hell. As a kid fear made me clench my jaws so hard, my ears and jaws would hurt, for days. I then moved to side against the stairs and that’s when I saw the man waving at me. he kept making signs at me as if asking me go to him. I hide from his view and he would come around to the other side. My agony ended when we finally got into the train and it started to move. I wanted to throw up.

It wasn’t the end of it. Next few months, I lived in gripping fear. I was convinced that the man would find me again. Maybe he followed me. Or maybe he put a chip on me to trace my home and me. I didn’t get out of the house, if I was left alone at home I would cry, which was unusual for a ‘strong girl’ like me. I was wearing a red frock with a big white frill jacket and red ribbons on my plaits that day. I could not touch that dress; I couldn’t wear that color, for years to come.

It wasn’t my first experience and definitely not my last. I doesn’t matter whom you are with. You can flaunt a ‘mangalsutra’ around your neck if you want. It doesn’t discourage them. I went through phases of suffering silently, even after the blow on my breast hurt like hell, fighting back, beating them in public and finally learning to duck, turn, ignore, avoid at the right time.

I learnt a few things. Making a noise in public sometimes helps, they fight with you. But most of the times people will look at you as if you did something wrong by retaliating. Best to avoid eye contact, yet be on your guard. Keep your temper under control. You can’t change the world.

The above post is part of the Blog-a-thon organised by Blank Noise.

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