By Rose Caroline:
It was one summer afternoon when our energy faded after a sequence of depressing lectures and ceaseless writing in college. Sonia and I decided to refill our empty stomachs and so we headed towards the canteen, dragging each foot in exhaustion.
Before we even entered into the canteen premises we were greeted by the aroma of chole bhature and samosas and that made us even more eager to relish the delicious varieties of junks. We took our seats and attacked on the meal, discussing everything from our pending Philosophy notes to the custom made shoes worn by one of our class mates. Girls are proficient in multitasking.
It was 4 p.m by then and even though the sun was expected to hide a little, it welcomed us with arms wide open. We directed our steps till the bus stop and waited till we could have a glimpse of the 479 route number. There were lots of other college students as well, who, under the scorching heat were lingering for the bus.
After 25 minutes or so, we boarded our bus and helped ourselves to occupy the window seats gleefully. Sonia sat right behind me and as always she plugged in her earphones and submerged into her own planet of fantasy. I pulled out my half read novel — ‘Aruna’s story’ and continued reading as how the sweeper had gruesomely raped the nurse, not even once thinking of the residual reactions followed by it. I wonder what drives men so maniacal to find pleasure in such monstrous act. Awful indeed..!
I looked outside the pane to distract myself into a place where a woman is treated with equal respect and dignity and where on no occasion is she made to feel insecure and helpless. I sighed and chose not to read further for some time. All I knew was that I was safe, seated perfectly in the bus (I couldn’t be pushed or fingered as I was near the window). No harm could befall me and why would it? After all, I was wearing decent clothes, I wasn’t laughing aloud and neither was I checking out guys. I was content and assured.
Sonia tapped my shoulders rapidly and I could sense it was not normal. I turned back and enquired what had happened. “Stay calm and listen. I doubt the guy standing near the driver’s seat is capturing a picture of yours”. Like the cold breeze of a grave, her words seemed to cut my very soul. I took my position and tried noticing him. His cell phone pointed exactly on me. A ghastly whiteness spread over my face. His eyes detected my alertness. He put his phone down and turned his back. I witnessed the phone still being in camera mode. My stomach turned ice. I couldn’t sum up the courage to stand and fight for myself. I was weak and scared. Sonia wanted my agreement to catch him red handed but I was unsure if we could succeed.
I was frightened out of my wits but decided to scuffle for my own sake. We both managed to move through the crowd and reach the conductor. He was informed about everything by Sonia in a short while. He along with some other men moved so silently that the villain was caught unawares. We snatched the phone and analyzed it extensively. I was traumatized to see innumerable pictures of mine and other girls and some dirty pictures of third grade heroines. It feels terror to even presume what he could have done. The bus was parked near a Police Station that came on our way. He was asked several times why he did so but nothing came out of him.
The crowd watched us as we fought tooth and nail not with him as a person but against the injuries executed on us unnecessarily. He was beaten black and blue and handed over to the inspector.
Amidst all the fights and arguments, I conceived the fact that I had become a victim and that was not because of my attire or behavior, that was because I was a girl.