At age 13 I remember waiting at a signal daydreaming away when this guy caught my attention, so busy licking his lips and sending me kisses in the most lecherous way. I was so bewildered. It didn't make any sense to me. I remember my mother telling me to just ignore men like that.
Back home in Chennai to do my intership after a year in Bombay, I'm on the bus to Ambattur. The bus is so crowded, there are all kinds of things poking into me, mostly harmless, some veggies, an umbrella, a penis...I feel sick and I get off the bus right then. Everyone asks me why I didn't scream. He'd have been beaten up for sure they say. I can't even begin to explain how overwhelmed with disgust I was, I wanted to be anywhere but there.
Somewhere in Bombay on another bus a man pinches me and I do yell but no one reacts. HE gets off and smirks at me from the ground. I feel ashamed of my outburst. I'm angry, worst of all helpless.
On the train from Bombay to Cochin, there's a man I think is a cop. He was dropped to the station by a bunch of cops and they all looked like buddies. He seems nice enough but at night when everyone is getting their berths up I can feel him staring at me. The night is hot and I toss and turn and everytime I look up he's still staring.
I get up and go to the loo, when I get out, he standing right there, I move to the side so I can leave so he can use the loo. Instead he pushes me in a bit and asks me if he can come in with me. Before I know it I've run back to my berth. Everyone else is sleeping. I call Ro but I can't get through, so I call a friend of mine. She's like, make a scene, he deserves it but when I tell her I think he's a cop even she says drop it.
I stay on the phone till the man gets back, then I wake up the boy on the berth above me. I consider telling him what happened but in the end nothing did happen and it boils down to his word against mine. The boy wanted to use my phone sometime earlier, so I wake him up and say I have reception now would he like to use my phone. He's so sweet, so in love he doesn't consider the lateness of the hour, he immediately says yes and has a long conversation with his fiance. I'm just happy for the company, my other eye on the man. When the boy is done with the phone I keep him talking until I see the man is asleep or at least faking it.
The next day I didn't, couldn't get up from my seat till he got off at Shorunur.
Later I was rounding up all these incidents and more with friends and one of them a guy, tells me, "The problem with you is that you make eye contact with people, you smile at them, you don't look tough enough."
Action Hero Rivka