In a crowded metro, I stood talking to a fellow classmate about the lecture that we just attended when I first felt them. I shrugged the idea of it thinking that maybe it is just the peak hour rush. But it was no surprise when they brushed against my thighs again. The disgusting sensation that they sent through my insides said another story.
I looked around trying to locate the owner of those fingers that kept finding opportunities to reach my body; nonchalantly he stood beside me listening to his music. His age and his demeanour made me think that maybe I was just being paranoid but the disgust that lingered from the touch kept my doubts pretty high.
The next time his fingers brushed for a longer time, I looked at him appalled and kept staring so that he knows but the person didn't budge. Not able to understand whether to go with what my body was trying to tell me or buy that person’s unaffected behaviour, I decided to shift a bit towards my friend. By this time I grew highly conscious, looking out for his hands, aiming to stop it from happening again. Then came Rajiv Chowk and as we were getting out of the metro, I felt the familiar touch again only to realise that the person was now lost in that huge crowd.
I was taken aback, not that this was something new to happen but I guess this is something that doesn’t change with the number of occurrences. Now that I was sure of it, my mouth went dry, incapable of getting words out and I felt shrunk to nothing. When I could manage, I told my friend about it.
At first she also said that maybe it was just the pushing and pulling of the crowd. But I was sure of the feeling; it was an intentional bad touch. Kept cursing myself that why dint I say anything. I shouldn’t have tried to give the person benefit of the doubt. I looked at myself, all covered up, wearing jeans and a quarter-sleeved top wondering as to why this had to happen.
Imagine yourself in the most humiliating situation, the feelings that you get then will still not be able to match the level. You want the Earth to open up and swallow you, as if that would make you escape your agony. You feel violated- emotionally, physically and mentally. For that person and for the likes of him, the adrenaline rush ends with the journey but for us, the torture of it accompanies us to grave. It is as if someone just stripped you naked infront of a large crowd. Though the fingers brushed over my clothes but the nauseating waves they sent in my body were enough to make me rip apart my skin with my bare hands.
People brush against you or your body parts touch when you are out because let’s face it, staying in Delhi, we rarely have the luxury of space. But the intentions make all the difference. There is one touch where you couldn’t care less but there is another that makes you want to leave your own body because it feels so sickening to be in until the feeling subsides.
And to top the mental and emotional torture that we face, there are people, some in well followed social position, who have the audacity to put it out there that all such incidents are increasing because of our mistakes.
They happen because we do not dress well, stay out till late, are at unsuitable place. It’s our mistake. Maybe a 6 month pregnant women who got raped was dressed inappropriately too, inviting people while travelling in car alongside her husband. Or maybe the 3 year old girl who got raped gave such inviting signs. Or maybe it was the mistake of an 8 month old baby girl who was dressed in tiny clothes; I believe that was the leading factor in that case.
But is it really? Do I invite some stranger to touch me while I am commuting to and fro, minding my own business? Am I supposed to be safe if I stay indoors, dressed in salwar-suit? To all those people who put the blame on us, I just ask one thing out of you, can you ensure that if we live according to you then such incidents will never happen in our lives? And if it ever does (which I ensure you it will) then you are to be punished along with the offenders. Will you do that?
I am guessing the answer will be a No and if it is then we need to change ourselves. If any idea or thinking process needs to be provoked then it should be the one that brings a change in the way people think and be. Sexual profanity is not the answer to anyone’s masculinity, ego or self-satisfaction. It is instead an indication of its absence. We as a society are supposed to suppress this thinking and encourage people to look at fellow human beings with more respect.
We deserve to walk out with dignity and respect,
not worrying about how to protect ourselves
from someone’s inhumane act.