A girl aged 11, on her way to attend her cousin’s wedding, sat next to the driver in an overcrowded jeep. The driver drove the jeep with his right hand while keeping the left one on her thighs. She felt uneasy but didn’t know what was wrong. It was only when she grew up she realized what he did and she hated herself for letting that happen, for not raising her voice. Memories of that day still haunt her.
She turned 18, and was on her way to college in a bus, when a man nearly in his fifties, sat next to her and started asking her about the city. She politely answered his questions. But after few minutes, the same man kept his hand on her thighs. Memories of the jeep driver came seeping into her mind. She was scared, while he kept touching her. In a low voice she asked him to take his hand away but he didn’t A lady standing nearby saw him and asked him to vacate the seat as it was reserved for ladies. She must have seen him harassing her. She was relieved but hated herself for not raising her voice again. Memories of that day still haunt her.
Last Friday, this same girl aged 22 now went to the market along with her mom and took a rickshaw to the post office. A man sat in front of her. She felt uncomfortable in his presence but as it was only a matter of a few minutes, she thought to adjust. The man touched her leg but she ignored it thinking it would have happened accidentally. But in a few seconds, the man kept his hand over her thighs. The last two incidents came flashing into her mind and she screamed and asked the rickshaw puller to stop. She shouted at him, abused and warned him and he looked at her as if nothing happened. She decided not to give him the benefit of doubt this time. She had to raise her voice, she couldn’t live with one more regret. She had to do this, otherwise she would have hated her again, for letting that happen. She kept shouting at him, taking out all her rage, for the day she was just 11 and didn’t know why she felt uncomfortable with that man’s touch, for the day she was an innocent scared teenager, for the countless days, she was reminded that she was a girl who was bound to feel unsafe, who was bound to be raped with those indecent gestures of shameful men.
And it was that day, when she stopped hating herself for letting something happen. Instead she hated those men who made her feel this way. She raised her voice and found solace. For once, she felt powerful, she felt better. She felt okay to be a woman…
P.S. I am back. I can’t stay away from writing for long, its the only thing that keeps me sane.