I cannot remember the last time I did that, to have walked fearless on the streets. I am not even talking about evenings and nights where we seem to have very quietly and unabashedly accepted the frequent hostilities and harassment with a numbness that is exasperating, I am talking about say any time of the day.
I cannot even recall the last time I really trusted a stranger, especially men. I eye them with both fear and suspicion, checking for any rude gesture or harmful material. If someone stands uncomfortably close I become stiff and get my elbows ready if needed to hit, as if by default. In fact when I was much younger I used to also carry stones and a pocket knife to be able to protect myself from the then rampant chain snatchers. In my teenage I carried my badminton racket in the bicycle basket for reasons more than just play. I have had opportunities to use these safety measures as well and unfortunately not just once or twice. I carried a pepper spray for all the four years in Delhi and recently I have felt the need in the otherwise safer Gujarat also. Travelling in a bus from Delhi to my hometown would require spending a lot of time in choosing which bus to sit in. This is no exaggeration. I do not know how many others maintain silence over such exacerbating experiences but a perverse gaze disturbs me, perturbs me, angers me and suffocates me. I do not wish to tolerate it or have any one else face it either. At times I imagine myself rising in air like a superhero and beating up those pests, howsoever I know I might land in further trouble. Because people can follow you upto your home, they can find out your phone number, they can collect more pests and hurt not just you but also your loved ones, who knows someone close to you might get hurt and as in a recent case, brutally murdered! So what does this lead to?
Police is generally of not much help. In fact they can be so perverse and brutal in their own approach that it can only further exploit someone who is already disturbed. I hope the current campaigning brings about a change, but until and unless this awareness and this resentment begins from homes, schools and all sections, rather than those who later get marginalized, it won’t change. Because change requires the evolution of the system in its entirety, to the very core of it.
Its a shame that most of the people my age have such disproportionate perceptions of sexuality, righteousness and duty, that they barely live and mostly follow. Those who dare to be themselves are attacked with one fear after another till the dart hits the bull’s eye.
I do not feel free, I hate the fact that I do nurture fear as part of an already traumatized society and I feel angry. I would do what I can, I hope we all do our bit.