We were a group of people travelling back to Ludhiana from the Maha Kumbh at Allahabad. So, while coming back, the train stopped at some small station and my parents had to take another train to Vadodara for some business purpose and I had to continue the journey back home with my nani and other people in our group. My parents got down from the train and were almost about to leave when I had a sudden urge to hug my mother and bid goodbye to her. In the passage way from our seat to the door of the coach, there was a huge rush of the people leaving and boarding the train. Some ‘uncle’ who had been sitting opposite to our seat in the same compartment and had also been talking to my father up till then was in front of me in the queue to get out of the coach. While I was still waiting for my turn to get out, I suddenly felt the hand of the ‘uncle’ on my breast.
I was 12, and unaware if that actually meant something. I thought that it happened due to heavy rush, but to my shock, he did it again within a few seconds and pressed my breasts harder! I was in tears. I couldn’t tell my parents about it at that moment and kept on crying for the entire journey, while everyone else thought I was crying because I had to stay without my parents! I gathered the courage and told my nani silently about what happened but she hugged me tight and asked me to be quiet and not tell anyone about it.
This incident made me realise the ugliest side of growing up as a girl in India. I was not even a teenager, I had been the youngest and most pampered child in my family. I didn’t even know what the ‘uncle’ had tried to do and why exactly.
I was 15. It was a Monday and I had gone to a well known Shiv temple with a friend. There was a huge rush in the main hall near the Shiv ling and a guy had the audacity to grope my breasts in the temple in front of the most worshipped God! It all rang back to the previous incident when I had decided not to be a victim anymore and I kicked the guy hard on his ass, leaving him shocked at the counter reaction. When I came back from the temple, more than feeling like a victim, I felt brave. I felt that maybe that person would think twice before doing this to some other girl. I felt as if I had given a befitting reply to all the middle aged ‘uncles’ out there who look at young girls with so much desperation!
These are only two incidents. When a girl moves out of her home, be it big cities like Delhi or Bangalore or the most remote places of India these things have become so common, that many people have begun to bear it all and not say a word!
I have the guts to shout at a pervert following me at a railway station or trying to touch me inappropriately. I do not keep quiet when I get shitty text messages from some random guy. I keep a pepper spray in hand while travelling late at night! But the fact that I have to be so attentive all the time, the fact that I have to hold a bottle of pepper spray while travelling is what makes me feel unsafe!
Reading the stories of Bangalore ‘mass molestation’ on NYE all over social media disgusts me! It makes me feel that we have failed as a society that even after almost 70 years of independence, we have to establish the fact that girls are independent to do what they want! It’s a shame that the people whom we have chosen to represent us and take decisions for our betterment say “these kinds of things do happen.”
I want to tell you Mr G Parameshwara, the ‘honourable’ Home Minister of Karnataka, that these things don’t just happen. It’s sick men like you who let these things happen. May your ability to reason rest in peace.