A few days ago I hit a man.

Not slapped - though I’d have loved one of those filmy one-tight-slaps that shook him to the core - just a hard whack on the back. I was out in the market buying groceries. And suddenly I felt a blow between my shoulder blades that threw me forward and I almost fell on my face.

I turned around to see two men on a bike, carrying cartons. They drove into me and bumped me with the cartons, almost causing me to lose a couple of teeth. It wasn’t an accident. They thought it was funny to harass me this way. They evetease and pass it off as an accident. To begin with, they were in the wrong place. In a pedestrian walk way, not on the main road. They had no right to be there.

‘Hey’ I yelled, ‘hey, look where you’re going. Are you blind? Shouldn’t you apologise?’

They looked at me and grinned at each other and drove on.


‘Hey’ I yelled, ‘hey, look where you’re going. Are you blind? Shouldn’t you apologise?’

They looked at me and grinned at each other and drove on.

I don’t know what came over me but I ran. In my high heels. I caught up with them and thumped the pillion rider on the back, wildly teetering. He looked shocked. The driver revved up and gunned the bike dangerously and tried to make a getaway. But it was a crowded market and I chased and got in another hard whack on his back.

‘Don’t you dare do that again..’ I screamed as they got away.

People in the market stared but no one tried to stop them. I didn’t care. I was fine. I could take care of myself. I was no victim.

In the last few years I think I’ve grown. I’ve never forgiven myself for being a victim albeit just a helpless child. I’ve had my few shots as hero, but they’ve been rare. I’ve begun to make more of an effort. As a young girl I often blamed my parents for not noticing that I’d been molested. As I grew older I blamed them for never taking me to therapy, for helping me deal with the guilt, the misery and the confusion. But I think I’ve reached a stage where I take all blame and credit myself. And I also take responsibility. For myself and my children. I feel the strength and rage within me where I am sure that if anyone touches my precious children, I will gouge their eyes out, castrate them and feed them to vultures - never mind what the law does with me after that. Because if I don’t teach them to take care of themselves and be strong, who will?

I urge you to do the same. Stand up for yourself. Experience has shown me that no one else will. Don’t use the harmless phrase eve-teasing. Tell it like it is - call it sexual harassment. You are being harassed for being the sex you are. You are being harassed sexually.


A few days after this happened, the Soumya Vishwanathan murder happened. I was out again buying groceries when a man talking on his cellphone reversed at top speed into me. I dropped my bags and jumped out of the way, just about escaping an accident. My first though was violent - I wanted to pick up a brick and bash his windscreen in. But sadly Soumya came to mind and I was terrified at the thought of him suddenly pulling out a gun or a hockey stick or just generally getting myself into a situation that I couldn’t get out of. And then it came to me.

I walked up to his car and going around to the passenger side I just shut the external rear view mirror. He looked up at me in shock and annoyance. I smiled sweetly and said in Hindi -’Oh I didn’t think you needed it. If you were using it, you wouldn’t have almost run me down.’ And then I walked away. I was damn kicked at having made my point, not having to shout and also not doing anything violent. I only wish I were always so ready with an answer.

And oh the bonus? He had to stop and adjust his mirror again. Yeah, small victory but it made me happy!


And finally - again - a few days ago the OA and I were out in the market and another car almost ran over me while I stood by the side of the road waiting to cross. The driver was trying to squeeze through and was driving on the cement paving outside the store I was standing at. The OA by my side I didn’t have any fears and I banged on the window of the car. The driver braked. A couple lounged in the backseat, in each other’s arms. They got a shock and sat up straight, straightening their clothes and disentangling. Fear writ large on their face. Was I the moral police, objecting to them making out as their car crawled through a crowded market place?

No, I wasn’t. I was merely very disgruntled aam junta - the common man or woman, whatever you want to call me. Drivers in our country don’t take proper driving tests and supposedly educated employers don’t check if their driver knows the rules and neither do they bother to keep an eye out for them breaking rules or driving rashly.

So I just put a hand on the bonnet and dared him to drive on. The OA was hopping mad because we were against the damn shop and had the good Lord not been watching I’d have been squashed against the wall and perhaps lost a foot or something.

The driver glared at me menacingly and the OA pushed me out of the way to deal with this man who almost ran over his wife and now glared at her. But I was in such a temper I squeezed in under his arm and banged on the window till he lowered it.

And then I began to tell him off in Hindi. The swanky young couple in the back seat looked on dispassionately at me. I looked like an angry hen - oily, sweaty face, dishevelled hair, speaking fluent Hindi and chastising the driver so soundly that he could barely get in a word. But they didn’t apologise or chastise him.

That made me madder. I turned on them and summoning all the big words I knew in English, began to tell them what I thought of rich, spoilt, upstarts who made out in backseats while their untrained, uneducated drivers ran over unsuspecting bystanders.

They sat up straighter and immediately began to apologise. I then turned to the driver and told him that when you’ve just practically run someone over, you should have the decency to lower your gaze and not glare insolently. Apologise to me, I said. Apologise, said the OA. Apologise, said the shaken couple. He did. Suddenly he realised I was probably as well off as his employees/of the same social standing and that he couldn’t shake me off like he could some other poor, illiterate bystander.

I didn’t feel much better. I realise they only made an effort because they were taken aback by the way I spoke to them. Had I spoken in Hindi or seemed to be of a lower class (which they probably thought I was - dressed shabbily as I was!!) that they might have ignored me. If it’s not sexual harassment it’s some other kind of harassment - in this case - I only got an apology because I have an education and could ‘outspeak’ them. Assholes.

And I am very proud of myself. This is the shit we should be fighting. Not another’s wish to practice their religion in a certain way or their choices. These are the things we should be uniting and raising our voices against. Alas - we’re so divided on religion that we have no unity in matters that matter.

Posted 16th November 2008