My contribution to the Blank Noise Project on street sexual harassment.
“Do you want some entertainment?
Absolute silence. And then a polite
“No, thank you.”
Rolling up of car windows with summoned calmness and then driving away with a passive face.
This happened four months back. It was around 2 in the morning and I was with another friend, a girl, both returning from a nightclub in the suburbs. Somewhere along Powai, my friend noticed this guy on the bike who had been trying to stay as close to us for over a couple of kilometers. He kept looking at us, veering the bike from one side to the other, trying to say something. We tried to ignore and then suddenly he started gesticulating. I didn’t slow down the car for quite a long stretch on the Eastern Express highway, but when we crossed Mulund, he came awfully close to my window and kept pointing at the back door.
Finally, I rolled down the window and he said,
“The back door is open.”
“I don’t think so, but thank you.”
I started rolling up the window and then suddenly he goes,
“Do you want some entertainment?”
“No, thank you.”
Yeah, go ahead and say it. I know it was pretty dumb to stop in the middle of the night and hear him out. I also realized later that he could’ve been armed or could’ve tried something more dangerous than just asking that ludicrous question. I also know that it’s not as safe as we presume Mumbai to be. Yes, it’s far better than most other cities, but that’s about it.
A girl, a woman will always need to be on her guard wherever she is. Watchful and wary of all shadows, human or machine that may crop up in proximity out of the blue.
This brings to my mind another incident that happened to me and the same friend as we were on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, on our way to meet a common friend. At seven on a Saturday morning, when were busy admiring the tranquility and the beautiful drive to Pune, suddenly an Indigo comes right in front of us and slows down. I was rudely hauled out of my reverie to brake abruptly to avert banging into that car. Those of you have been on the expressway know it’s an incredible 3-lane and one can jolly well attach loyalty to one lane and still ride the thrill of a sexy drive.
I tried to switch over to left and then speed up. They followed. Loyally. I slowed down and trailed on the other lane. They switched lanes and were back in front of us, driving at an aberrant speed of less than 40 km/hour on the expressway. After a while, the two on the back seat actually sat facing us and leaned out of their windows to throw offhand remarks to us that were lost, courtesy the rolled up windows and the music. This went on for almost an hour and there appeared no channel to funnel off those guys.
And then I could endure no more. The speedometer dangerously hovered at 120 and I could almost sense my Alto looking at me uncertainly. But it meekly kept shut and went along with me, like one of those girls who cower when they’ve been tossed a vulgar remark while walking next to an angry, helpless father or brother. As if they somehow were instrumental in soliciting an unwelcome crude remark or an atrociously vulgar gesture.
I sped and when they stepped callously on their gas pedal and zipped straight ahead of me, I slowed down and parked on the left for a good 10 minutes. Along with water we gulped down disconcerting thoughts that maybe we were human magnets for undesired attention on the roads. After a while, we both concluded that we weren’t and that in an incomprehensible, eccentric way, it had to be some inherent deformity in most male psyche that derives distorted pleasure in battering women. Mentally or physically, preferably both.
I’m trying hard, really hard not to recall the times when I saw flashes of white rage as somebody just walked past me, “accidentally” touching or brushing against parts of my body. Those “inadvertent” caresses that send yarns of fury, tripping, coiling around my raging blood. Or, when from across the street or right next to me, they leered and leched, shamelessly undressing me without my permission.
I’m making a serious effort to keep my blood pressure under control, even though the mere recall makes me want to choke those mutherfuckers to death.
It’s weird how almost always realizations strike us after the incident has taken place. Women today are far more prudent and I always presumed so was I. But in retrospect, it turns out that it’s very simple and human as well, to keep all caution signs aside and just act on impulse.
BUT, let’s NOT do that. Please. Let’s not throw caution to wind.
For your loved ones and most importantly for yourself, please stay safe!
Remember: A hard dick has no conscience.
*Note: How ironical that even the filthiest of all abuses for men go back and hit the women!
Action Hero Blue Athena