As I sit down to write for the blank noise blog-athon, I wonder where I could begin. Should I start chronologically from the age of 7, when a man servant felt me up in places I can still not get myself to write down? Or should I go ahead to the age of 14 when a guy rubbed himself into me in a not so crowded bus in Nepal, all this when my parents and sister were in the same bus, but I didn't dare to move, for the sad reason that at that age, I didn't know how have the guts to react in that kind of a situation. Or should I just jump past all those daily experiences of men feeling me up, pushing themselves into me in public transport, or staring at me or winking at me or passing lewd remarks or pinching my butt or singing songs or throwing balloons at me every damned holi or autodrivers offering me "lifts, jahan bhee jaana ho" or cars stopping by when I am walking alone on a main busy road, following me for some time, assuming that I am on sale or "boys" aiming small paper pellets at my butt or men hitting my butt by driving too close to me while I am walking my dog or guys speeding on a bike hitting my chest so hard that I almost fall with the sheer force (apart from the shock)... I am out of breath already and this sentence doesnt even seem to be anywhere near ending. Maybe I should just land up at the incident which happened at some new year party when I was 16 and at that age, like everyone else I had the humble desire a young girl would have - that of being asked for a dance (not even a ballroom dance, just a jam session). Little did I know that the request for a dance was a pretext for masturbation in a public place with the guy trying to make me fondle his dick. By that age, I was thankfully not so ill-equipped in terms of presence of mind (had enormous experience of such incidents by now) and I shoved him away with all my might. But till this date, only one person on this planet knew about it and she actually thought that I had imagined it all, since guys in those social circles are supposed to be "decent". Nothing really "harmful" (this term is so damn subjective) happened then. I tried dealing with that incident in an adult manner (in my mind i.e.) so that my self esteem didnt get hit ("did I really look the cheap variety or did I look the "unable to do anything variety" to attract the wrong guys" kind of doubts).
There are ways and means to tackle that colleague who talks to your breasts or that elderly relative who pretends to be fawning over you but is actually lusting (you can always tell). Of course, one needs to weigh ones options and actions a little bit keeping in mind all odds. One does not go ahead and take pangas with a gang when one is alone. But one can definitely be alert and quick (not just physically but mentally as well).
There has happened a particular incident of ballooning where the guy made the mistake of being visible while throwing the balloon. He happened to work at a local barber shop, which I immediately stormed into and gave him a piece of my mind and some of the choicest abuses I knew. A guy there (a client) egged me on to give him a tight slap as well. I quietly ignored him since I didnt want the situation to get so heated up and that guy seemed to be egging me on just for kicks. I cant say that what I did, would have made the ballooning guy stop it for his life. But it's always best to bring the "situation" into notice. The fear of embarassment is enough for some to at least think twice about it next time. There was another guy who tried brushing past me on a main road while I was waiting to cross it. The whole damn road was empty, but he thought that he would have a piece of my butt before I reached the other side. That guy was unaware that he was going to get the shock of his life. Though I felt like killing him, I merely held his collar with both hands and shook him so badly that he didnt know what hit him. He tried running for his life, but he couldnt. I was surprised with my own grip. Eventually he managed to pull off and ran for his life. It was only when everything was over and done with, that the "crowd" asked me what happened and if he was trying to snatch my purse.
There are umpteen such situations in everyday life and they would perhaps never end. Not only is it difficult to try and give such sick men their due, it is very much a difficult thing when you are left in a doubt about the intention of someone. At times things happen accidentally and unintentionally too. But at most times they are obvious enough to be brought to public notice. Even if the "crowd" does not react (and only watches) one should definitely make sure that one does not ignore it. In public transport one can always request ppl politely to stop pushing or plainly to stand a little away. The way one does it makes sure that even the ones who did it accidentally arent offended by your request and the ones doing it intentionally can not just go scot free. When it happens repeatedly in spite of polite requests, it's time to stomp that high heel onto his foot or to shove ones elbow into his balls.
The best way to actually try and reduce something like this is to spread awareness amongst women that they can actually protest against it. I have grown up watching things happen to me and around me and even though I knew it was wrong I didnt know what to do about it (till some point in my life). One needs to ignore minor happenings but one also needs to make sure that the ones which can be avoided, are. Things can get as ugly as molestation of ones own children or marital rape. There is no dearth of the levels till which harassment can go. Be aware, be prepared, be alert and be proud to be a woman inspite of the shit that happens.
Action Hero Priyanka Sachar