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I have written this for the BLANK NOISE PROJECT

Grit your teeth. Look busy. Pretend to talk on the phone. Frown. Look into the distance as though you cant really register your surroundings (and yet you have never been more aware of them). This is pretty much the best way to deal with the sly calls, the whistles, the cars slowing down. The scooters that stop uncomfortably close to where you are standing on the road.

But if the threat grows, if your space is invaded to a point where you cant breathe - pick up a rock. It has worked for me for many years… because they mostly don’t want their faces smashed. Or their cars spoiled. Or their helmets damaged. And of course... last but not the least - resort to actual physical violence when you cant take it at all...

I have to admit that the choking "after" feeling is something that I have not managed to work on. I still get chokey. I still clench my fists. I still get hot tears behind my eyes. And none of it is my fault. The feeling of helplessness is often mindnumbing. The anger is too much to take. There is no outlet. Then sometimes it explodes.

A few years ago, I was on a shoot. In Old Delhi. Need I mention - covered from head to toe. There was nothing even remotely sexy / alluring / attractive about me. I was running after my cameraman through the narrow lanes and suddenly I felt my butt being grabbed. Not too hard. But more than just a brush. I stopped running. I stopped breathing. There was a buzzing in my ear. I turned around and there was a man walking away from me to a tea stall. I calmly followed him and with the edge of the two beta tapes in my hand started hitting him between his shoulder blades (anyone who has had training from older brothers knows that this is a sensitive spot). I couldn’t stop till my cameraman came from the back and held my hands and told me to calm down and get away from there. A crowd had gathered. Not for me. For him. He was asking me over and over again, “What did I do? What did I do?” I couldn’t speak. Words wouldn’t come out of my mouth. You touched me. Just now. Then yesterday and the day before that and last year. And when I was in school. when I was at the market.... you violated my space. My dignity. You made me feel dirty. Cheap. Low. So, so helpless.

Was it wrong of me to take out my frustration on him for all the other times as well? I dont know. Did the hitting make me feel good? I am not sure. ‘Cause it was not enough. It was not enough ‘cause it did not leave me with the strength to do it again. And again. And again.

Being on edge all the time can be tiring. But then that is what you need. To survive. Because you are a woman.

Action Hero D