Why Should ‘Walking Alone At Night’ Always Remain A Fantasy For Women In India?

By Japleen Pasricha:

freedom

Before I start with my own story, I would first like to marvel at this very simple yet powerful and effective comic strip. This comic strip is a part of Sinfest, a web comic written and drawn by American comic strip artist Tatsuya Ishida (a pseudonym, I guess). He’s an invisible web comic artist and one of the interesting things you can see as he matured is that he’s gone from drawing pimp ninjas and geisha sluts to developing a very feminist sensibility. I have posted, liked, circulated his comic strips on social media and on my page on feminism, but this by far has been my favourite. Four pictures and three lines: that’s what it takes to speak a million words, words which are so strong that they pierce you from within. It is like he has hit not one but many bull’s eyes with one single dart. It is a shame for this world in this century that walking at night is a feminist utopia fantasy story.

Now let’s get back to my own fantasy story…

The other day I was coming back home after having dinner with a couple of friends. (A note to those who don’t know: I am an Indian woman who is currently living in Munich, Germany). It was about 11 pm, not very late and I was peacefully walking back home without carrying a pepper spray or any kind of weapon to defend myself. The act was very simple; I had dinner with some friends, after biding them farewell, I took the underground and from my station I walked till my home. When home, I changed, brushed my teeth and went to sleep. Now you may ask what is so special about this simple act of going home after an evening engagement that I had to write an entire blog post about it.

While I was still doing this simple act, i.e., walking back home (I know I am stressing on it and it looks repetitive, but it is important to mention the act) I realised how this simple act was unimaginable for me a couple of months back while I was still in India, how I always needed the company of a trusted male friend who owned a car and about whom I was very sure that he would drop me home safely. I remembered how for many many women this is still a utopia, a fantasy and they might not be able to do this simple act their entire lives. They will go to their graves without taking a walk at night.

Living in Germany since the past four months this act had become a part of my daily routine, my life where I would walk back every day in the evening either after university or from other prior engagements. I got so used to it that I didn’t realise that it is something special that I should treasure because it is a privilege that I am receiving right now from this country.

walk

And then the hard reality hit me. I am going back to India in a month’s time. I am going back home after five months. I will meet my family, see my friends and loved ones. But was I happy? Yes and No. I was dreading this moment and now it is slowly coming to me. I would never be able to do this simple act of walking back home at night again. I would again require my trusted male friends who would drop me home safely. I would never again be able to smell the night’s air or watch the moon walking quietly behind me.

All this happened while I was still walking and by the time I reached my home and unlocked the door, I was sad, very sad. Only the thought that this is soon coming to an end, that I will have to bid farewell to this freedom spoiled my joyful, happy, meeting friends night and made me cry, cry not just for myself. Not just for my own freedom, but for every woman who lives shackled and oppressed. I was sad and depressed till sleep took a better hold of me. That night I quietly went into my room, changed, brushed my teeth and went to sleep.

Disclaimer: This article was written while the author was in Germany; she is back to India now. It has been published on her personal blog here

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About The Author

Japleen Pasricha is a feminist and a research scholar at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Though an expert in German Studies, she is interested in Women, Men and Gender Studies. She is a supporter of LGBTQI. An aspiring educator and activist, Japleen wishes to work with a women’s rights organisation someday. She firmly believes that she can and will bring about a change. She maintains a blog and also has a page on feminism to boot. She tweets at @japna_p

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7 Responses

  1. Manisha Singh

    late night walk or early morning jog, you have to think twice before venturing out and mostly the answer you get is ‘why take the risk at all’. Living in a world free of these constant fears is a dream which may never come true.

    Reply
  2. Diksha

    Hey…. I loved ur article!! You spoke my mind…. I am also an Indian girl… I stay at hostel and everyday after my class I have to walk to my hostel at around 8:30 or so… Plus the road leading to my hostel is very very lonely… It needs at least 4 girls together not even two.. Many of my friends have been molested even in daylight! Being a girl I too fantasize walking alone on road at night in darkness as if I am alone in this world! But as I cant!! At a times even I feel sad! I too hav to depend on my male friend to come back safely!! Recently I went out at 2:00 in night in a cab we had booked to drop my friend at airport. The road was so silent and deserted like i said alone in this world!! But alas!! I was in cab not walking on road! It was the same like I had dreamed!!! I wish i could be lucky as you walk around at night!! Anyways awesome article!

    Reply
  3. jaya gupta

    yes, indeed it is a fantasy in india!! even at 9:00 pm, i carry pepper spray ready in my hands when walking on road.

    Reply
  4. Sravanthi Bhamidi

    I have wanted to take a stroll alone at night for many days. As you aptly described it, it remains a fantasy. I fervently await the time I would be able to do this without having to think twice.

    Reply