Vignettes from my teen years.

I was 16. A few of us were in a movie hall. In the darkness I felt an elbow poking me in my ribs, it belonged to a young guy in the next seat. I pointed out to him that it is bothering me. He apologized and took his arm away. A few minutes later the elbow was back. Once again I objected to it, once again the profuse apologies, this time accompanied by amused chuckles by his friends. I realized I was a source of amusement to these young studs. The next time that all too familiar elbow came to visit me I was ready. I gave it a gentle jab with my safety pin . There was a surprised ‘ouch’ in darkness and I gently told the young guy that I did not like his elbow in my ribs. I was not bothered by himfor rest of the movie show. I have always believed that actions speak louder than the words in such cases. After that day I never left home without a safety pin in my purse. I have had to use it many times.

A crowded bus. I feel hands behind me pushing me and touching me with an unnecessary familiarity. I look back in surprise and anger. I see a most respectable looking 'Uncle' going home from office. He stares back at me with a 'who me' look.

The guy is standing very close. Too close I felt. I put some distance between us. I see another young girl come and stand next to him. He obligingly makes place for her. She doesn’t know Uncle likes young girls. I call and warn her about him. She comes to stand next to me, giving him evil glares. Soon all the women had alerted each other that Uncle was a lech and all stayed away, keeping a safe distance. Men around us pretended not to notice what was going on. That guy got off the bus on the next stop, almost 15 stops before his destination. Speaking out works.

Harassment from men is a daily experience for girls venturing out in the city, for college or work. We are always told vaguely by parents to’Be Careful’. This 'Being careful' has many hidden warnings. Don’t talk to strangers, don’t dress in attractive manner, don’t catch a man's eye, beware of men, don’t laugh, don’t smile, be home before dark, always move in herds, don’t walk down the dark ally, men are bad, you have to stay good, etc etc etc. But staying home is not the answer. Facing that guy down, is the only way to deal with it. I can not say men should mend their ways. There are no prayers written for that miracle and in any atrocity against woman it's the woman who is blamed, advised, or criticized.

I do not like my freedom curbed. If some one bothers me, I speak out. If something hurts me I hit back. A major part of my teen years was spent in designing jewelry with spikes which every girl should be wearing.
And to this day the most satisfying sound from male lips happens to be that ‘Ouch’ in the dark movie hall.


vishwesh said…
good one and an eye-opener of sorts!
You write reallly well.
Farrukh said…
Hi Suniti,

Jewellery with spikes? Good idea!

I loved your last sentence - it need not say cinema hall but could just end at 'Ouch!' for more impact ;-)

farrukh - the Caferati Dubai guy
r r said…
wow! india definitely is going to be a different experience altogether. hmm

loved the ending! absolutely loved it! gives the resolution i was looking for. :)
suniti said…
Thanks Vishwesh, Farrukh and rr :) Means a lot to have you guys on my page.

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