I first met him during the annual day, but was very familiar with those awkward staring eyes, “Abhinav* bhaiya, this is Dua* my friend, ma’am wants both of you to see the arrangements backstage,” she introduced us. At the end of the day, ma’am congratulated both of us for doing a good job. And again I got that weird look from him with a smile that made me feel uncomfortable.
Days passed but his staring continued, and after a few days, I became ‘bhabhi’ for all his friends, with rumours being spread the we were in a relationship. One day, I entered class to see that there were a few chits lying around with our names written on them along with some stupid, inappropriate things. I was called to the Principal’s office. On being asked about all those chits, I told them that he used to stare me and I didn’t know who was doing this.“Abhinav, what is she saying?” ma’am asked. “Don know ma’am… When did I ever look at you? You’re lying.”
I stood there with no words to say. Tears rolled down my cheeks and I failed to prove that I was not wrong. I got scolded and my character was questioned.
From that day, I stopped talking to boys, I started avoiding stares, I learned that if you raise your voice or question anyone who stares at you then society will tag as ‘characterless’.
We are often told, ‘he’s only looking, not doing anything wrong’. Why the hell do we need to wait till he actually does something? Why can’t we stop them right there? Why do you think that staring at a girl is not that big a deal? It is a big deal! It makes us feel insecure, it makes us feel uncomfortable, it makes us feel like we are roaming around without our clothes on.
We don’t walk around to be looked at by someone and be judged. We are not showpieces to be looked at by your extra-open eyes.