It was a beautiful Sunday as we enjoyed a hearty brunch at Pahalwan’s on an all-girls’ day out. We had met after a long time. An hour later, after spending time, window shopping, in the Gole Market, I decided to head home to Roop Nagar and had no option but to take that over packed Gandhi Nagar to Amphalla matador. After slipping through a crowd ofpeople that filled the matador, I could barely find a place to stand and could only manage to hold on to the head bar and stay on my feet. I felt a chill run up my spine, the kind that tells you someone’s has just laid dirty eyes on you, invading your privacy and striping you naked with their eyes. It was just a moment later that I felt something push against me. I thought it was someone’s bag or hand, touching me in the crowded matador as it tuned with the turns. As I looked behind, to my most utter disbelief, I saw a man in a long blue kurta, leering at me and he had no bag with him.
I found his both hands clenched to the head bar as well and if it wasn’t his hands, well, a feeling of disgust and revulsion rose deep in my guts with what I saw. The man had undone his pants under that long shirt in the middle of a crowded bus! Anger exploded into every inch of my being as I felt a great fury raging throughout my veins. In that moment, every single incident and every wretched face that dared to molest someone I knew, ran in front of my eyes. And I found myself roaring at the top of my lungs, pouring out all the rage upon him
“Teri itni himmat” (How dare you?)
“Kya samjha k rakha hai kutte?” (What the hell do you think?)
I looked deep in his eyes with every intention of making him pay for what he had done. He was taken aback as I roared at him and started apologizing in a shaky voice and insisted that it was his hand that touched me because of the crowded bus. “Your hand comes out from your pants? Why are your pants open?” I was yelling in bus packed with people but it became quite a show for them as they stood there, watching me, yeah just watching me! Nobody has the decency to enquire of what was the matter. I even found a few faces pass a wicked smile at each other and that was when my patience broke and I unleashed all my demons.
I grabbed his collar and pulled him through the packed bus all the way towards the door while he kept on repeating that it was his hand, it was a crowded bus. As soon as I stepped on road, he pushed me back and started to run. The adrenaline and anger pumped through every muscle of my body and I ran, with all in me, I ran making as much noise as I could. The by passers on the road just stood there and watched the show, few of them even heaved, while a man in uniform stated chasing him. After a while, we could manage to catch him. I screamed again – How dare you touch me? It is people like you who make it a hell for girls to step outside the home – How dare you?
The cops dragged him to the nearest police check post while I followed in rage. The people around just watched. When we reached the police station, he started with that it was his hand that touched me and it was a crowded bus. He tried to embarrass me into narrating the whole event. God, he would regret it for the rest of his life. The cops all turned and looked at me, expecting a reply. His incredulous dare to shame me fanned the rage in me as I held my nerve and poured out words I thought I’d never use,” Just lift his kurta up and you’d see what kind of hand comes out of his pants”. On hearing my words, he gasped in horror as the cops felt enraged and started charging at him. Within few moments he joined his hands and started apologizing and saying that I was like his sister.
“You monster, you do this with your sister? What kind of animal are you?” I yelled at him, feeling aghast at his change of notion for saving himself. But he had way over crossed his line and was going to pay for his crime. I slapped a sexual molestation case against him and he was immediately jailed. I was not going to let this one go and I appeared in the court on Monday. The man had been moved to Amphala jail and would stay behind bars till he gets bail.
I could have just stayed silent and encouraged him in ignorance and he might have tried even more heinous things the next time. But I chose to not stay quiet and speak up against him to cut his wings right there and instill fear in people like him who make it a living nightmare for girls to walk freely. Many steps are being taken to ensure women safety and many more will be taken. But it lies within us women to not tolerate anything that violates our right to walk free and with self-respect and not be subjected to any kind of unwanted advance towards us or our bodies. Had I not spoken up to the police or just let it pass for a simple eve teasing, he would have done far worse things to other women. But I raised my voice. And in the name of womanhood, RAISE YOUR VOICE!