Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault
The year 2015 was a turning point in my life. I shifted from a small town of Uttar Pradesh to New Delhi. Adjusting here wasn’t easy, I was a shy person. Communication was a major issue as I carried ‘zero’ self-confidence with me. I could not talk to new people and crossing a road was a daunting task. I was all alone. Getting used to an alien place is always challenging. Homesickness haunts you and all you want to do is go back to your family. But I couldn’t do that, I had dreams to achieve.
The place where I stayed was not too close to my University, thus, I used to travel in the Gramin Seva. Being a newbie, I didn’t know the risk this mode of transport posed to women. As days passed by I was getting accustomed to this new place. I had started to gather confidence but soon, something horrendous happened and it destroyed my mental peace.
One evening while I was travelling in the Gramin Seva, a man sat beside me. This mode of transport is usually crowded with lots of people, and sometimes it gets really uncomfortable as the seat can accommodate only three people but the driver is reluctant in adjusting to four. We were four people sitting on one side. Suddenly, I felt, as if a hand was trying to approach my waist. I moved a little and ignored it. As it was crowded, I thought that someone might be trying to adjust themself.
I was wrong. My nerves suddenly went cold, and I froze. I felt a hand moving from my waist towards my upper body. I was shocked to the core. All my senses stopped working. I didn’t know what to do or what to say, I wanted to scream, hold that man’s hand, and throw him out of the vehicle – but I couldn’t. All the anger I had in me seemed useless. I couldn’t move an inch. I wished that someone would help me but no one did. Within a minute a person from another seat got down and I quickly switched my place. I was so scared that I couldn’t even look at him, I kept looking at my feet, they were shaking. I felt so weak that sitting there seemed like a huge challenge.
Finally, the man reached his destination and descended from the vehicle. When I reached home I wanted to cry but I could not. Tears refused to come out as if they were scared to leave my eyes, the way I was. I didn’t eat that day. Attending classes the next day was not easy.
Days passed by and I went back to my normal self, but things do not end here. It’s been five years since then, yet a mixture of intense unhappy emotions engulf me when that incident crosses my mind.
The only question I ask myself is why didn’t I do anything? Why didn’t I shout or scream or hit him?
For a very long time, I could not understand the reason for being silent that day. But now I know. Indian women are never told about this. I was never explained how I should react when such a situation arises. But why do we lose all the courage in such situations? No matter how much I claim to thrash a molester the next time it happens, I know that I never will. It’s because we have been asking Indian women to stay quiet. It is time that they raise their voice against offenders. Silence is not an answer to this menace.
Looking at the current scenarios of this country, we can’t rely on the authorities. I am pained by the constant news on Hathras. It’s not easy to follow up on these issues and stay mentally healthy. I am frustrated and angry. But sadly, the authorities do not seem to care. All that’s left to say is women should never stay silent when such incidents occur. Whether it’s a matter of eve-teasing or stalking, don’t ignore it. Raise your voice, save yourself, and be fearless. We need to give a strong message that women are not weak. It’s not going to be easy but clearly, we are done with all the atrocities and pain being inflicted on us. Silence and ignorance are no longer a solution to this problem.
Featured Image Credits: Aasawari Kulkarni/Feminism In India (Image used for representational purpose only)