A few minutes later, these men came from behind on a bike and the one sitting pillion tried to hit me. My hair was falling on my face and that is why he missed. But he had to hit me, the plan was to teach us a lesson, so he grabbed whatever hair he could grab in his hand and pulled me. The first thing that occurred to me after realising what has actually happened was to look for the vehicle number. The brave duo was smart enough to cover it with a gamcha before coming to hit me.
I was shocked, I was stunned, I was scared. Yes, I was scared, because, . I was scared to tell my papa, who hates the fact that I work in Bihar. I was scared of the fact that what if he had had a gun and decided to take revenge the other way. I was scared to accept it publicly but when I thought over it, I decided to speak. The first thing that I did was to file a police complaint and thanks to CCTV in adjoining shops, I was assured by SP Patna that they will be nabbed.
The whole incident is not important in terms of what happened but the mindset behind it. The mindset that’s rotten, that’s disgusting to its core when they think, “Wait, I will come back to teach you a lesson”. How dare you not accept my proposal, I will come back to teach you a lesson with a bottle of acid. How dare you say a no to my advances, wait, I will come back to teach you a lesson and rape you. How dare you say a no to sex when I am your husband, wait, I will teach you a lesson. How dare you point out that I should not pee in the middle of the road, wait I will come back to teach you a lesson, wait, I will hit you.
I have been told that Bihar is the wrong place to speak up in, the wrong place to take a stand. But then if we shut up just because a pervert has the guts to slap me in the middle of a posh road in the capital city of a state, every place is the wrong place to speak up for any woman in any part of the world. I had to speak up so that they don’t think it’s so easy to go off after a show of masculinity. I had to speak up because in my small town called Bhilai, I have two nieces who want to be like their bua when they grow up and I don’t want them to grow up in a world where we live in fear. I had to speak up because I have a conscience to answer. I had to speak up because shutting up is not me, because I want that shutting up is not the way out for any woman.
For years, when everyone asked me if it was difficult to be an independent woman travelling alone, going to difficult places, living by myself, I brushed them off, saying you needed to know the rules, don’t fear, stand up, speak loud, and enjoy. Most of the days I am proud of being one of them, but one fine day, incidents like this strip you of all the mettle that you think you are made of.
People told me to always be cautious and to shut up (I myself did that the same day). Others will tell me that what happened to me was normal because we live in a patriarchal society. Others said that I should not get involved in FIR jhanjhat (hassle) and let the man go. It is bizarre that my options in this situation involved letting go of the perpetrators to avoid conflict or standing up to them.
Do you really think that these are options? I shouldn’t ever be asked to let go, to bhool jao (forget it), to stop thinking about it because standing up against an assault on your liberty is not even a choice at all. We owe it to the same society we live in.