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This post was originally published here.
I would normally not write about something like this. Definitely not on my blog. And most definitely not when I am writing a post after two months.
But I have to say what I have to say.
So the last weekend saw me going to Madurai to meet my sister’s edible and possibly the cutest twin babies on the planet, G and N. No cannibalistic tendencies but honestly they are SUCH cute kids that one just wants to stuff them between two slices of bread and have them for breakfast. Om nom nom.
Now that you are sufficiently disgusted let me continue.
As the trip to Madurai was about as efficiently planned as the errr… most unplanned trip to Madurai ever, I just went to Koyambedu and took one of the many buses leaving for Madurai
What follows is not something which is happening to me for the first time. It has happened to me before, has happened to ALL women/girls I know and very sadly will continue to happen till, well, we wipe men out from the planet. Which by the way is SUCH a good idea. Just freeze a couple of million good sperms (only if you want to that is. Because then we would have boy babies and after G was born I feel kindly towards boy babies so we can’t really kill the boy babies you know. I would feel bad ), wipe out the men and there you go – world peace, no strife, no hunger problems, no rape, no molestation, no dowry deaths, no need for contraception, no population explosion, no wet towels on the bed, no…
But I digress. More on this later.
So you might ask me why I choose to write about this particular incident when there have been so many.
Because I am proud of myself. So proud that I kicked a man in his balls in front of a bus full of men, who *might* be potential molestors themselves. Proud of the fact that there is now one man in Tamil Nadu who will DEFINITELY think twice before he even touches his own wife.
I shall not go into the gory details of what happened but in the middle of the night, I shouted at a bastard, swore at him in my most galeej tamil, poured a litre of water on his head, woke up everyone on the bus, confiscated his voter id card, kicked him in his b*lls…Thrice, made a co passenger slap him on his face, twice, and then waited till the bus reached the middle of nowhere, asked the bus to stop and made him get down.
I wish I had pepper spray. So I could have made his life more miserable but man! I am so proud of myself.
I also threatened to publish his photo is all the local newspapers that I know of and put it in public forums so people KNOW who he is. Which I have not been able to do. Because I don’t know how to go about it. And also because if newspapers started carrying pictures of molestors, then well, there would ONLY be pictures of molestors in papers and little else.
So I shall share his picture and details here. And hope that the few good people who do visit this blog shall tell me how I can go about making his life miserable. Please give me really good ideas to make him regret his birth on this planet.
P.S: So a funny thing happened. When I shouted at this man and asked him how he DARE put his loathsome effing hand on me, he replies saying “I am a decent man. I did my engineering”
I have always been escorted by my parents or a trusted auto driver whenever I had to go out to school, tuition or any outing in general. Later, I had a two-wheeler and so as a school girl, I was fortunate enough to escape from perverts.
However, I moved to Chennai after college. I was working in a software company. I had to travel by bus and train – that in itself was a new experience to me. I felt very lonely and paranoid about travelling alone in the bus and to admit the truth, since I had been in Coimbatore for 4 years, I found the Chennai bus crowd very hostile.
One weekend, I had to go to the Koyambedu bus stand to get a bus to Anna nagar. The bus was late as usual, so there was a big crowd waiting to board the bus the moment it came to a halt. I got caught in the middle of the moving wave of humanity and was pushed in the general direction of the bus.
I don’t like crowds primarily because one has to endure being jostled about by others. So needless to say, I was trying to wade through and get into the bus safely. I felt someone groping my back and I thought it was the lady near me trying not to fall down. So I endured it and tried to worm away every time. But the hand was relentless and I felt very uncomfortable, irritated and all those wordless things you feel when you hate something. I finally got too irritated and turned and what do you know! It was not the lady but a shady looking middle-aged guy.
My blood boils even as I type this now. I can’t put my anger into words. Anger. Revulsion. I just hit him. Hit his bloody hand that was audacious enough to grope me. He left me alone. I had not made a scene, but had just given a tiny fraction of what the rascal deserved.
Throughout the rest of the journey I stood near the driver and kept throwing nasty glares at the guy and finally he got down after 2 stops. I was still shaking inside, but he did not know that.
I have never thought of myself as a person strong enough to stand up to a strange, big guy. But that day, I knew I was. All of us are.no comments
How does it feel to notice the same person waiting every single day on the railway platform to board the same train as one does, board the same share-cab as one does and walk down the same lanes as one does? Sheer co-incidence you might say if it was once in a blue moon , but every single day and the same pattern for few weeks?
I couldn’t take it anymore. I was patient initially, I missed trains only to notice him doing the same and boarding the same train as I did. He made sure that he’d board the same share-cab as I did and walk through the same lanes which lead to my workplace. I was patient again, but after few days it just got too creepy. I found that he went till the end of the street where my work place was and later turned to walk back in the same street.
How many days is one expected to do the same? And I found it irksome. Early in the morning I can’t be anticipating a stalker. It was emotionally traumatizing. I usually rant a lot on twitter, but I was very silent about this because I had fear of mockery , and also I din’t want an image as a damsel in distress.
A boy who looks barely out of college and with a face like a innocent teenager. Looks are for sure very deceptive.
And one fine day I decided I will do something about this,I couldn’t cringe anymore. I was angry. This was the time when I spoke with Hamsini Ravi of Hollaback! Chennai and I told her that I wanted to confront him but was also scared. And I did what Hamsini suggested.
He was in the same train, same share-auto and while he was walking on the lanes, I made him stop , I also made sure that the area was not deserted. There was a shop near-by and I asked him why was he following me? He was not taken aback, it looked as though he was expecting it. And barely 5 seconds of questioning he started to get defensive, he blurted that he has some work here and started acting all busy by using his phone. And the funniest part was he actually said ‘I won’t come from next week’ , I felt pointless talking to him after this.
I just walked away and that particular day I did not see him waiting in the street end or turning to walk back, and also did not find him in the train the next day!
I do not know if it is the end of my story.
I was early. Too early. There was hardly anyone in my compartment. I put my luggage next to me on my seat and took out my earphones. Passengers began trickling in. A man came and sat at the other end of my seat. Feeling bored, I took out my notepad and began writing. Out of the corner of my eyes, I noticed that he was nervous but I paid him no attention. I felt him rocking slightly, but again, I was absorbed in my notebook. Suddenly I looked up and saw that his pants were unzipped and he was holding his penis in his hands. I was shocked. Immediately I screamed, “Excuse me! Get out!” He scampered hurriedly. I was distraught but did nothing. The compartment had about a quarter of its seats occupied. There was an old woman sitting in the seat before us. Anyone walking through the aisle would have clearly seen everything. No one seemed to have noticed anything. I fumed for a few more minutes and was upset the whole ride. This is the only place I am sharing the story.4 comments
Susanna Myrtle Lazarus
I am and always have been an independent girl/woman. I have travelled alone by trains since I was in class five, and I have always vouched that they are safer than most modes of transport.
I have travelled as late as 10PM alone by suburban EMUs without incident.
Late last year, I promised my cousin that I would stay over at her place in Mudichur. I live in Purasaiwalkam. Since my parents were going as far as Nanganallur that evening, I got dropped at Palavanthangal station. The time was around 8.15PM (which I do not consider late at all).
So I buy my ticket, and settle down on one of the benches to wait for the next train to Tambaram. I was wearing jeans and a short kurta, along with a huge stole I always carry to imply KEEP AWAY.
A while later, I noticed this guy loitering around. Well dressed, well groomed. Full formal wear. And he was staring at me. In a way that made my skin crawl. Did I mention he was shorter than I am? I’m only five foot four. I had felt stares before, but this was on another level.
Anyway, I glared and turned away even though I could feel the look on me still. Thankfully, the train came within a couple of minutes, and I jumped into the ladies compartment. Listening to music and enjoying the cold November breeze on my face, I soon forgot about the guy. The train rolled into Tambaram station around 9PM, and me being a fast walker, quickly climbed the stairs and reached the pedestrian subway.
I don’t know how, but I realized that the guy was following me. And I stopped smack-bang in the middle of the crowded subway, and waited for him to pass. Yes, I read too many mystery novels.
The cheek of him – after he figured that I am waiting for him to leave, he too stops, turns and looks me full in the face. With a sneering look. Challenging me. That did it. I thought, “Screw you man.”
Rushing past him, pushing other pedestrians out of the way, I raced to the share auto stand. By the time I found one to get into, he had reached. Now I had no wish to go the last six kms of my journey with him (which also included a short walk through a dark road from the main road to my cousin’s house).
The second I saw him peering into each auto looking, something inside me snapped. I started walking around looking for the policeman who is usually posted there. I saw him, and I yelled, I pointed at the creep and generally made a lot of noise.
The guy took to his heels. The cop took a few easy strides and collared him. Dragged him to the Tambaram police station.
The next half hour was the time I have felt most empowered as a woman. Not because the police thrashed the guy in front of me. Not because he went from saying, “I never saw your face.” (I told him if he had seen only my face I would not have had a problem.) Not because he then literally begged for my forgiveness.
But because I took my safety into my own hands. I stood up for myself. I refused to be cowed down. And it felt so damn good.
It was not the first time. Granted, I had screamed holy murder when a man on the bus squeezed my breast when I was in class VIII. I loudly, and in local Tamil lingo, told off the guy who was leaning on me with a sickeningly dreamy look on his face in an empty bus when I was in college.
There have been other times I have been helpless.
Like the time I was around 10 years old and a man in a minivan put his hand up my skirt, and caressed my thigh. The thought of that feeling nauseates me to this day.
Like the day some guy flashed me in Kasturibai Nagar station. I have not travelled by MRTS since that day.
Like the day I was walking near Kathipara junction and a man on a cycle out his hand out and damn near pushed me down with the intention of groping me. I do not walk in situations where that can happen to me.
Not out of fear, mind you. I just don’t want to be in the same situations again. It irritates me, and I would rather remove myself from the source.
Going back to the smartly dressed creep. I did my own bit of drama, threatening to file an eve teasing case even though I had no intention of doing so. Flashing my press card at the cops, who were doing their whole good cop bad cop routine (it does exist!).
My dad offered to come, but I refused. My friends and family were worried and kept calling every two minutes. I did not back down. After speaking to the Inspector, I left. He promised to hold the guy back for half an hour and then let him go.
I gained some respect for the police force that day. Women, go to them if you need help. Be frank. They appreciate it, and they are helpful.
I got a share auto and while going to my destination, I called my aunt and recounted the adventure of the evening to her. And I could feel the man sitting next to me inching away from me. I literally LOL’d.
As I share this, I feel good. As I read other posts here, I wish we did not have such sad stories to share. Oh to live in a city where I could walk freely.2 comments
I’ve led a fairly protected existence so I cannot say I have been on the receiving end of harrassament a lot. I guess I’ve always been hiding behind this mask of intimidation. The angry stare, the head-held-high strut. But it’s all just a pretense. Deep down, I knew there was only crumbling nerves. Somehow my gaze drops down whenever I feel people staring at me hard. All I can do is cringe.
Having lived all my life in Bangalore, I can say that to an extent one can feel safe in this city. But it’s not without it’s incidents of harrassament. But the one time I really felt violated was when I was travelling by train a few months ago to Tamil Nadu.I was dressed pretty modestly as far as I know. (Oh jeans with a loose top and a sweater over it for God’s sake!)
But they wouldn’t stop staring. If you read most of the posts on this blog, you might think staring is not so big a deal.But it is. It’s this lecherous, lust filled gaze. It just makes you want to feel like you should be buried 30 feet below the earth. Oh, and my mom was sitting right next to me. It was a 6 hour painful journey that left me nerve wrecked.
Catcalls, jeers, whistling. Something everyone is familiar with. Why must we put up with all of this? But I fear the consequences of rebelling. To this day, I cannot walk home alone in broad daylight without entertaining alarming thoughts such as being assaulted. Yes, maybe it will be easy to shout, chase after the offenders. But what if they come back the next day with more goons to support them? It is this constant feeling of fear whch has been ingrained in my mind that prevents me from being more bolder. Hence, I am forced to hide in my cocoon of dilemma.no comments
I don’t even know where to begin with this story of mine, purely because of the sheer duration of time that I’ve been dealing with this. It started when I began using the MTC bus service to go to school everyday. Despite taking a bus at 7.30am, the route was very crowded and was filled with plenty of groping men. In fact, it seemed to me then, that those were the only types around.
It was very upsetting and back then, very shameful. I didn’t know who to talk to about this. I mean, from my point of view, I was doing nothing wrong or provocative. But my presence was enough to incite this activity toward me. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it, because it seemed to me that there were a lot of women like me, suffering silently.
As I grew older, I decided to take things into my own hands. I got a little more brash while travelling by bus. I pushed, shoved, elbowed, and yelled my way through the 10-minute bus ride from home to school. I remember a bus ride back from school. Term exams were on and we all left early. The bus back was very empty and there were maybe five other people standing. I noticed someone stand very close to me and he kept exaggeratedly leaning whenever the bus turned. He did it once, and I let it go, I thought he had trouble balancing himself. He did it again, I let it go. The third time, however, I pushed him and his fall was not exggerated.
That’s when some passengers noticed and one of the older women sitting down gave me her seat. Of course, he was not happy that a school girl pushed him. Nor was he happy that people took notice of it and sided with me. He got off the bus a couple of stops after and I reached home without any further incidents.
After that incident, I was a lot more confident about dealing with the groping variety. Despite my new-found bravado, an overcrowded bus was one place I was utterly helpless in. I still am utterly helpless on an overcrowded bus.
There are times when I feel that there is nothing much you can do, but I don’t see the point in women resigning themselves to being harassed.
I don’t understand why proactive steps are not being taken towards making public transport the one public space where people can travel without the fear of being harassed. I know for a fact that going to the police with a harassment complain will only yield one result, you’ll get blamed.
It’s ridiculous that women choose silence. It’s ridiculous that the very same silence is justified with “what’s the point?”
I know that harassment won’t stop, but if there is something to be done about it, now is as good a time as any to begin!
constantly harassed by van and taxi drivers in perambur chennai.even i have complained to the police also.still the condition is same.school students and working women also facing the same problem.
The world is safe for men. But not even a bus is safe for women. When I used to travel by bus during my college days, I don’t get on a rush bus because of the fear of harassment about which my school friends used to discuss. Walking in a dark street also fears me. My school friends who come by bus used to take some bell pins with them every day as their weapon to protect themselves while traveling in the bus. During my college days, I have helped one of my senior when she was being tortured by a men, by letting her my seat for her and I got down before my stop and walked to my house. I have also seen some ladies who boldly fight against with the men who are sitting in ladies seat and who do horrible things in the bus. If women comes out with that kind of courage, than they can protect themselves against anything. Wish each and every women knows karate. Self defense is the best security guard
In Chennai, let’s just say having breasts and travelling in public transport aren’t conducive to each other. Never mind the fact that I dress extra-conservatively, packing away my flashy stilettos and party-wear for some other time. There’s always a scarf or a dupatta or something that covers me, but somehow there are always a scoundrel or two – and I use the term loosely – who want to have a go.
While I walk fast, elbows up, trying to prevent the inevitable attempts at brushing, touching or at inspired moments, groping; with my given two hands, leaving my behind entirely unprotected. I should have had been given 4 hands at least. At peak times, I catch myself huddling towards the corner of Guindy, one side of the steel mesh as my guardian angel and vaguely swatting the air behind so no one sneaks up on me (as so many do, the bastards).
Its the walk of so many other women here. Strange comradeship we have.