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“Ab A.C. Se Ladki Ka Kya Connection​?”: A Personal Recount Of Sexual Harassment

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Submitted anonymously:

We all remember this particularly funny scene from Jab We Met. The main lead, a big mouth, tells random people about how her parents always insist on her travelling in A.C. class in trains cause of her gender, and how that logic never made sense to her. Hence the dialogue, “Ab A.C. se ladki ka kya connection?” Connection hai bhaisaab! there is a connection. At least it was for me, a naive little free spirit, when after a particular incident all connections, thought processes, sense of security went out of the window of a speeding train.

I clearly remember that night. Heck, fresh wounds take time to heal. I was travelling alone in a 2nd A.C. class, heading towards home, for my holidays had just begun. The two berths above me were occupied by snoring men. Everything seemed normal, old people gossiping (and complaining) about random things like the weather and the government. I was totally immersed in my laptop. Young people, you see, the same everywhere. As the night dawned on us everyone dispersed, having exhausted themselves from talking so much. The seat by my side, no.9 was occupied temporarily by a bearded man, whose clothes were similar to sadhu and saints. Falling asleep in a train is near impossible for me, with all the moving and shaking, but being bored I had no option.

In the middle of the night, I started getting this weird feeling that something was creeping into my blanket, creating a light wave, trying to touch my neck. I looked sideways. A hand was swiftly pulled back by someone lying on seat no.9. Being a bit sleepy, I thought I was hallucinating. Also, someone’s hands couldn’t be that long, could it? I kept my eyes open for a minute, nothing happened. It was a fly, I decided. Still, closing my eyes I pretended to sleep. Within a minute (!) that weird sensation was back. My eyes flew open. The hand retired into the blanket. What the fuck. Hastily I opened the lights, and stared at the seat for 5 seconds. I half expected him to suddenly jump at me. No motion.

I ran to my left, trying to find someone. There is always someone awake in the alleys near the toilets, doing some work or puffing a cigarette. If I could find someone really fast, we could nab that bastard before he could escape. No one. On the right side I found a guy sleeping near the toilets. Please wake up before he runs away, I prayed.

As I spoke my twisted sentences, we ran to my berth. But alas, he was gone. We checked the toilets, quickly called the T.T., woke some people up. There was no trace. I hadn’t seen him as he was covered head to toe in blankets. All of my stuff was intact. The T.T. checked his papers and found that the occupier, a Mr. Gupta hadn’t boarded the train. The sadhu baba wasn’t the culprit either. We had seen him getting off the train. It was someone from this very coach, who had noticed my being alone, who came on the berth solely for perverted purposes. A loser, who had no identity and no morals either.
When misfortune strikes, people have their own ways of helping you deal with it. Some empathise with you. Some genuinely help you. Some abuse the one causing trouble. And the rest keep giving you advices on how you should have handled it in a different way than you did.

But all that they said sounded pure “what ifs” to me. Yes aunty you are right, I should have screamed and woken you people up. But in a moment of panic, hearing you all snoring, I momentarily lost my speech. Yes I should have pulled the blankets and given him a slap. But I feared he would drug me into silence. I feared things much worse. Having no weapon and fighting skills, I did what I thought best. Run. Find someone already awake. It’s a different thing my logic saved me but couldn’t catch him. I know they meant well. But a shaken up soul needs healing, not dealing. I was too lost to comprehend what they were saying. The whole night, what was left of it anyway, I couldn’t sleep. Any slight movement, even the whooshing of curtains would wake me up. I knew that it wouldn’t happen again this night, but some part of me permanently refused to believe it.

Who would have expected such things to happen in an A.C. coach? Don’t we all say to our daughters, “nahi beta, sleeper mei nahi. Agar A.C. seat nahi mili toh tum ni ja rhi ho. Bas!”? I have travelled in sleepers, 3A.C., chair cars, even local trains in U.P. and never in my life has anything  happened. People with class, who have enough means to travel in an A.C. coach, one wouldn’t think they would resort to such lowly stuff, would they? Forget the A.C. – non A.C. debate, why do people have to even do this to women? Life shocks you out of your camaraderie right when you least expect it.

In today’s world, there is no place safe for women. International companies, malls, roads, colleges, public places (yes, CROWDED public places) everywhere women have to face harassment, eve teasing or indecent touching. Call up any woman, and you will hear at least one such incident from her. Such things do nothing but scar our minds and induce fear. It seems that people have lost a sense of respect of a woman’s privacy, and feel a compelling need to pervade it. Stricter actions need to be taken. Society needs to be educated on how to treat the other half of their population. Things need to happen, NOW.

I am sharing this incident (I refrain to call it an ‘experience’) cause I was overconfident. I was foolish enough to think that not travelling alone and looking out for signals would be enough. That such stuff happens to other women, not me. I thought I was smart enough to save myself. What I didn’t realise was that even a smart mind needs preparation.

I am not advising you to stay closed in your homes, scared. Please, that’s not a way to live your life. And neither am I writing this to make people aware of mistreatment. That’s what you already know. I write this to urge you women out there, to take measures. To always be prepared. I insist (yes I literally am hell bent on insisting) that you NEVER EVER leave your homes without some sort of weapon, like a pepper spray or a sharp object. To take self defence classes. To smart-up your mind with all sort of stuff on how to protect yourselves. The society (especially the ‘educated’ idiots) says, “Women are not physically strong (read weak)”. But remember ladies, nothing beats a sharp mind, and a high heeled kick in the balls.

You must be to comment.
  1. anuj

    Good that you shared it… its not just your story… many women face the same thing… even i have seen such person many a times in train trying to touch girls here and there… we can not change the whole world but atleast we can try to bring some change…

  2. abhi

    it’s a fuckin moron society where educated people are the most corrupted not by their hearts with their morals too…the above incident is a minor example of a sick mentality. the girl was lucky enough to save her life from such horrifying event..and brave enough to bring this matter with us..

  3. Apurva Vishwanath

    As I read this post, I wonder what stopped me from writing about my ‘incidents’ ? Now I will.

  4. Neha Vashist

    I agree that every women must have suffered from this sort of incidence.. at times it becomes really hard to understand what to do and how to react.. but of course a kick in the balls always work.. by now all we girls know that we are not safe.. instead of asking for help or waiting for the system to react, we should do something by ourselves. Lets make this place a safe haven for ourselves, lets not cry but fight, lets not just get scared but stand. We have to fight for our security and dignity.

  5. Apurva Desai

    I think every Indian women has such an “incident” in her kitty. Shameful, but the truth.

  6. Rashmi Yashwant Bhate

    I have one suggestion. Get yourself enrolled in a self-defence program. I know it wont do much as many people say still you will have a sense of security whenever you are alone. I always believed in cautious optimism. Dont get over optimistic but dnt let fear cloud your judgement of self assuredness. Things will never change and man will always be the same perverts wherever you go but in case the situations go out of hands and if even a small trace of luck is at your side, you will get out of these situations relatively (not completely, there are always emotional scars to deal with afterwards) unscathed. Just do it, I have done the same.

  7. bjigya

    the very same happened to me when I was with my mom and in A.C. On the contrary, I travelled many times alone in sleeper from del to bangalore and vice-versa with not an incident. I always tell everyone that when travelling alone I actually prefer sleeper to A.C.

  8. Raina Bhowal

    With our tight life schedule, joining a self defense programe might be a problem both for married and non married women, rather the newspapers and magazines can prepare a special self-help column featuring all the techniques and stuffs.

  9. Ipsa arora

    It is a harsh reality that a girl is not safe anywhere. Be it the trains, discs, roads, or any place one can think of. Its not about changing her lifestyle or clothes or the class she travels in the trains that would make a difference, but, changing the society as a whole.

  10. Bhaskar H Narula

    Kudos to the writer. I could feel the intense pain she wanted to convey.

    The cause conveyed is true. Even i never allow my girlfriend to travel in anything less than shatabdi. But it is actually running from the problem. We need to take a stand. Things and policies are too vague. How to go about it, government is sleeping. No, its not like that. Government cannot stop all these at least in trains. Its us, people from educated lot, serving MNCs and then doing all this stuff. Grow ppl, f*** your wives. Annoyed.. Gosh!!!

  11. Osama

    Self defence programmes are good,but honestly,when some guy is hell bent on doing wrong ,he can overpower a girl IMO..see to what happened to that lawyer in Mumbai,she did put up a fight..but eventually lost it.ANyways,I think if girls have a pepper spray with them it can solve a lot of problems,coz no matter how strong you are,your balls will burn with pepper in your eyes !!! I bought one for my sister it was Hawk Pepper spray i think..Its available online too,search it,or buy any other whichever you girls get..But do keep one with you..and do practice your aim after buying..May Allah keep everybody safe.

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