I walked steadily, holding a few things in my hands: my notebook, phone and wallet. It was a habitual path, one I had taken so many times since childhood that I knew when the trees had been trimmed and could tell when the flowers hanging out of the houses would bloom.
Two minutes away from my home, one calm Sunday morning, I felt him.
It hit me from behind, harder than a ton of bricks. A hand grabbed my backside, hard, and squeezed. The bike slowed down and he was right next to me, his helmet clad head touching the side of my cheek. His hands didn’t leave me, they were already moving, to pull me closer or to push me on the ground, I couldn’t tell. Terror shot through me as I screamed.
I turned and hit him as hard as I could, his back, his arm, whatever inch I could see on the light blue shirt he wore.
As I struck him, our eyes met.
Nothing had ever terrified me more than the unapologetic gaze of that man.
He slowly drew his hands back and began to steer his motorcycle away, speeding up. I tried running a few steps before my legs failed me and he turned the corner and disappeared.
I was left on the road, notebook, wallet and phone in hand, thoroughly groped, standing right in front of four or five security guards wearing uniforms. They looked at me with mild interest.
I lost it at the guards. “Dekhte hi rehna!” I couldn’t recognize my own voice. “Kabhi kuch mat karna! Bas dekhna! Ye hota rahega! Tum dekhte hi rehna!” They behaved as though I didn’t exist. Some looked at their feet and for the rest the air around them must have been exceptionally interesting that day, because it drew their attention better than a screaming, sobbing girl right in front of them. “Uniform kis liye pehente ho?”
I was then struck by the awareness of being completely alone. I walked home, shaking, tears running down my cheeks, clutching my things to my chest.
That two minute walk felt like a lifetime.
I couldn’t even note his bike number. In that moment all I had seen was red, and the blue of the shirt he wore.
I won’t forget the guards’ reaction, rather the lack of it. I had been screaming at the top of my voice throughout the incident. They had watched.
It struck me how the guard of my own building had been so quick to report to the landlady when I had taken a male friend upstairs. Were they all like that? Eager to interfere in consensual relationships and mere detached observers when a woman was being touched against her will?
I’m aware that my experience is not even a morsel of the kind of horror, rape, abuse that women face everyday. Should I be relieved that this is the worst I’ve been through in my 19 years of living in Delhi?
This is my message to all women living in the capital: You are alone. Sooner or later, in broad daylight or one dreary night, in a good neighborhood or a shady lane, someone will try.
They’ll make you wish you hadn’t worn what you did. They’ll make you wish your chest wasn’t as prominent or your legs not as long. They’ll make you look at your feet and slouch as you walk past them. They’ll try to feel you up for cheap thrills, they will slap your breasts as they speed past in a car, they will whistle and pass sexually offensive comments at you. . . What will you do?
Be prepared to face it alone, because when it happens, you will be.
(The incident occurred in Gulmohar Park, a colony in South Delhi.)
Source – University Express