… terrible. Everybody around me was talking about rape and rights of women and I felt very weird because it was a new thing for me. I felt even weirder when I realized that people are realizing it only now. But, I’m glad that at least a small percentage of people did make an effort to show their solidarity against the inhumane acts against women. Many inquired why I’m not writing a post about what has happened in India. Some even told certain incidents from their life which they wanted me to mention in my post. But, I refrained from writing a post all this while only because I was badly hurt by the incident. I couldn’t cope with the fact that heinous acts can happen to women to any extent.
For an ordinary woman like me the number of stories about being raged and flushed with anger has lost count.
There was a peon in our school who molested most of the “physically matured” girls. The girls who got their period and growth of breasts were very innocent in their minds; after all we cannot expect a 6th girl in late 1990s to be as informative as the same aged girls now. The girls had no clue how to react when he did things to them because they were ignorant. Stories about him circulated among the girls and even the teachers knew about it. Surprisingly, no action was taken though parents complained about him to the school authority. Teachers are not Gods and I realized it when the girls in the Sanskrit class started telling stories about the newly recruited male teacher. It was his hobby to put his hands through the sleeves of the girl’s uniform on the pretext of pinching the girl as a punishment. Things went out of control when one of the girls was caught with the teacher in an empty classroom. The story ended with a twist when the teacher appeared with his wife and kids because he had joined the school saying that he was a brahmachari. Today, when I look back, my blood boils with anger thinking why the parents never fought to throw him out of the school.
Moving to a school in the heart of the city only worsened the conditions. The school being a girls only school taught me a lot of interesting things. Talking to a boy was considered as a serious crime and such girls were branded as “bitches”. So when I told my friends that my best friend is a boy and I played cricket with my neighborhood childhood friends, they almost fainted. Using public transport to school was a terrible thing as the bus conductors hated the students. At times the conductors would pat the bum of the girls asking them to give space for him to move around in the bus. The cleaner man of the bus is adhered to the foot board of the bus that without being touched and caressed by him, girls cannot get out of the bus. Some men love the surroundings of a girls’ school. Men standing of the walls of the school and lifting their lungi and flaunting their penis was not an unusual scene for us. Whenever we have complained, we have always got a standard reply which is like “why did you look at him?”. Pick every girl who studied with me and every one will be having thousands of such stories. Once I even slapped a man who tried to hold me and for more than a week I made my Father drop me in school as I was too scared to travel alone. Travelling in KSRTC (Kerala State Road Transport Corporation) buses are even messed up. The bus has only one door and that too at the rear end. While getting down, you can never make out who touched your bum and who touched your breasts. By the time the women wearing sari get down from a crowded KSRTC bus, if they are lucky there won’t be any scars or nail scratches on their body. And since the bus will be too crowded, we cannot place who did things to us.
The torture saga in the train started when I moved out of house of my graduation. While travelling in the sleeper suddenly we can feel the hands on our legs. We would become wide awake to see a shadow running away.By the time we realize what has happened, the shadow must have disappeared completely. Once a woman complained caught a man when he tried to grope her leg. She was sleeping in the lower berth of the sleeper class. The police beat him and took him away. None of us slept that night fearing what may happen through rest of the journey.
I don’t know why nobody (including me) has ever complained about people throwing stones into the ladies compartment in the trains. While I used to travel in the Cannanore – Cochin Intercity Express, there are two places (before Kuttipuram and before Shornur) where men would be sitting on the gravels next to the rails and when the train passes by, they would hurl stones at the ladies compartment. The daily travelling ladies would ask rest of the crowd in the ladies compartment to close the doors and windows before reaching those spots. I wonder what pleasure and satisfaction the men get by throwing stones at women.
There is a dialog collection which I have heard from the day I started working in Chennai. Though I have switched places, I always have half a kilometer distance to walk to get the public transport. The common dialogues are
“How much milk do you produce?”,”My penis is erected by seeing you”, “Can we book a room?”,”Have you seen my thing? Look, look”,*any of my organs* super super, can I touch them?”
Above are the few “decent” dialogues which are hurled at women who walk that half a kilometer distance. Some other things which they shout at us cannot be put on my blog, it will stink. And to add the surprise, these dialogues are said by even educated, well dressed professionals too.
The lesson which I learned in past weeks is that now I started reacting to even the harmless comment passed on me. I realized that my silence is taken as YES even though it is just a comment.
But I still feel terrible because the peon and teacher still work in the school, men continue to lift their lungis and flaunt their penis, the stones are still thrown at the ladies compartment and my day is not complete without hearing couple of the comments.
Image courtesy : http://www.stopstreetharassment.org/male-allies/educating-boys-men/