Thursday, 5 January 2017

The Bengaluru Molestation That I haven't Forgotten.!

This is back in Sep-Oct 2015, I guess. I was walking back home after finishing my work. It was around 10:30 PM and I was walking through this lane next to Bata showroom in Koramangala 6th block, Bangalore. A man on a shabby looking, thin bike bearing a Tamil Nadu number passed a few lewd comments in broken Hindi/Urdu at me. I think, he commented at my breasts. Something like, “they look nice and juicy.” I was petrified and angry at the same time, I waited for a while for him to return so I could teach him a lesson. It was a well-lit main road and people were still around but his courage to abuse and then laugh at me was indomitable. I waited for good 5 minutes but he was nowhere to be seen.

I resumed walking, as soon as I entered the not-so-lit lane towards my apartment. I saw a bike coming towards me. It was the same guy. He stopped in front of me, almost blocking my way. On one side of me was a dark construction site and the other side had a closed shop. I knew, I had little help available. I was terrified, I mumbled, “Kya baat hai bhaiya?” To which he replied, “Tere ko maza nahin karna hai kya, chal bike pe baith.” His fearlessly groping me on a street had already killed my confidence. I again said, “Yahan se jao,” fearing he might be carrying some acid or weapon with him and may disfigure me if I were to shout. He wasn’t deterred at all. He started pulling my dress and asked me to sit on the bike again (this time in an even firmer tone). “Tere ko bola na bike pe baith saali, tere ko maza aayega, something, something,” he slurred.

I suddenly saw a guy entering the same lane, I subtly screamed, “Excuse me, please help, please.” The coward started to walk even faster like it was a crime getting molested. By this time, I knew that I had to help myself. I kicked his foot with my sharply heeled sandal; he almost fell off the bike. Yet he decided to follow me again but I had managed to reach the main road by then. The first person I saw was a young guy (19-20 yrs. old, maybe), I shouted “Help, help” on the road for 30-40 seconds until I realized that the potential rapist wasn’t around anymore. I sat down on the road, caring little about what people would think of me. I had never felt this inadequate in my life, like I didn’t have my legs anymore. Few guys came running to me, offered me water, helped me get-up and walked me till home.

On the way, I saw the same guy who I’d sought help from. He was smoking, probably outside his house. I confronted him for why did he choose to be a mute spectator and run away. His defence was, “I didn’t stop, thinking it’s a personal fight and it was your boyfriend trying to hug you.” I didn’t know what to tell him. I just called him a coward and walked away. I looked back, he stood ashamed.

I didn’t have the courage to climb to the second floor (my house) anymore. I stopped at the first floor, where two guys who had just started their careers in Bangalore used to stay, I wasn’t friends with them but we used to share pleasantries once in a while. God knows what made me knock at their door that night. As soon as the door was opened, I hugged one of them, cried uncontrollably and told them everything. They subtly hinted that I could stay back in their house if I was comfortable. I remember having spent that night sitting and sobbing on a beanbag in their living room. Next morning, one of them walked me to my office.

It was one day, I can never forget in my life. But I didn’t stop believing in humanity because not every man is a coward and not every man is a rapist. The ones who helped me pass that nightmare were men too.

The only mistake I did was not reporting the crime. I was scared that I wasn’t a local and he kind of was. He had a bike bearing Tamil Nadu number. I was scared that I’ll be judged for the dress and lipstick I was wearing that night. I was scared that I’ll just be labelled a slutty girl who was spoiling the Dravidian culture by wearing a red lipstick and choosing to walk alone in a provocative western dress at 10:30 PM.

My colleagues too advised me to let go of it since I was staying alone and that guy had almost seen the lane where I used to stay. I soon moved out.

I’m not sure, whose defeat it was.. MINE or the SOCIETY’S.!

...Sonam Mahajan…