This past Diwali I chose not to go home (exam blues, you know!) and have the best Diwali with a quiet lunch in the noon and an even quieter night with only our books. So, my roommate and I were all excited given the air of festivities around and we dolled up for the lunch in a cafe which was a ten minutes rickshaw ride away. Let me set a few details straight. It was Diwali so we were very TRADITIONALLY dressed. Right down to the kurta and bindi and all the jazz. But life isn’t all bling-y and shiny.
I am not stereotyping but three Haryanavi guys on one bike were driving behind our rickshaw. Busy day it was, so traffic was slow. With a smirk on this face, one of the guys whistled, “Oho, baby doll.” Now, this happens every day with a ton of girls. Many choose not to react, quietly ignore it, feel ashamed and move on. I am the kind of person who would rather cry than fight back. But that incident made my blood boil. I felt anger rush through me everywhere. I mean, how dare they? I started shouting at them right in the middle of that very busy road. Pedestrians and those vehicles around, as usual, were mere spectators. Yes, it was impulsive of me. It took guts. But why feel shame in standing up for something you know is right?
My question is how long do we live under this stupid fear that if we stand up against a man, it might come back to bite us. Woman, be empowered! We all want change, there is a fire burning within us. If we stand up for something we believe in, we are told to toe the line. Was it my fault? I am glad I could answer him back though he went away without a hint of remorse on his face. You are not a piece of meat, sweetheart. You are a human being with as many rights as that shit-faced fool. You are not the weaker sex.
Coming back, that guy drove his bike really close to me (hardly a foot away) and said, “Main bahut soch k hi bolta hoon” (“I always think before I speak.”). Now, the ambiguity of his words struck me. What did he mean by these cryptic words? What I deciphered was that it just reflected his animal instincts. All in all, some hollering from my side, some silence from his, the matter was settled (read: the entourage drove away).
Something about this incident was really funny. The rickshaw driver said to me, “Beta, tumne sahi kiya tha” (What you did was right!) and my reply to him was “Uncle, aapko bhi bolna chahiye tha sirf dekhna nahi” (“You should also have said something not just been a mute audience”). He was taken aback and chose not to comment anymore.
While dictating this incident to a friend of mine, she told me, “Dear, you shouldn’t have said anything. You don’t know what he could have done. Stalked you or something.” I didn’t know what to answer her. Or maybe I didn’t want to.
Now, these things happen every day. They will continue to happen every day. Only if we stand up for ourselves, can things be expected to change. Nobody is going to fight for you. You have to fight your own battles. You are alone. I agree, this might not be a very big incident but it certainly was one-of-a-kind experience for me. I realized there was more to me. I want this to serve as a lesson to me to continue fighting for things I believe in. Now is the perfect time to be a rebel! The fight just goes on! Just persevere. Stay strong.
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.