Personal Essays Torn Pages From My Harassment Diary

Torn Pages From My Harassment Diary

These acts of harassment don’t make you strong. You are weak. So weak. Because, you are scared of a woman’s sexuality.

This story is part of the 16 Days Of Activism campaign against sexual harassment. People are invited to share their experiences and shift the onus from the survivor to the perpetrator. To know more and take part in the campaign click here.

Type, erase, type.

I had never felt this wordless when I was thinking of writing down my experiences on the streets of India. I had never felt this claustrophobic. I had in the past, at every instance made it clear that all I wished was to forget these stories, take a lesson and move on. Not because I wanted to snub the incident but because I knew that they made me emotional and weaker about the situation, about the idea of freedom.

And there I was, lying in a pool of such experiences, trying to pick which ones to reveal and what to let go. Wordless, because they choked me, they choked me to numbness. For one can say, “Toh kya? Rape toh nahi hua (So what, it isn’t rape)”. For I can be told to make a big thing out of nothing. But to me, all these stories are instances of those lucky times I escaped a worse situation. Sometimes because I was bold to create a scene, at other times because the man didn’t take it further.

What they did to me?
They did make me lose a little faith in men.
And society.
But here I am. Healing myself.

Clouds above my head
Or shadows from the past
It’s all a memory; it’s all so vast
I sit here with a look so choked
And you say I get emotional about patriarchy!

We were walking down the street from the school to the college that day. We, when I say, are my close gal pal, and I just 15 years old. As young girls transforming into women, the trauma of sudden bodily changes, change in the way our hair grew on our body, the sprouting acne and movement from sports bra to a beginner bra, were enough for us to be conscious of ourselves. More so, the teachers and boys at school made it even more obvious of our changing lives, leaving questions unanswered at most instances. That day, while we walked down that secluded street between the ten minutes walk from school to home, little we knew what we were up for.

Owing to the tiring day we had, we looked out for a tricycle rickshaw. With our regular daily school talk going on, as we were about to board it, a man on a scooter with his helmet on came out from nowhere and punched me hard on my breasts. I shouted, kicking him hard. He ran away. We were speechless. Unaware of why it had happened what had happened. From that day on wards, we always kept our bags close to our chests, hiding them from the leaching men walking on the streets, as we came back from school.

I wasn’t aware back then that from then on wards men would not talk to my face but to my breasts, always.

I look at myself in the mirror
A piece of art am I to all?
Or a human who lives emotions
Waiting for the invisible veil to fall?
And you say I am breaking the foundations.

In the chaos of Delhi and my life in a college, I had freshly started developing wings of fire. Wings that were giving me hope to fly. Coming back from the college I had often been instructed by my mother to take care of myself as the distance to home was long and at times the late hour classes meant coming back late in evenings. I didn’t realize the value of it until one fine day I experienced it first hand.

Five drunken men came out in a car towards me as I walked down to the nearby bus stop throwing kisses and making lewd remarks at me. They were compelling me to come with them in the car. As I ran for my life, I realized fear yet again. It wasn’t a secluded street. This time it was in broad day light on a busy main road that I had felt shivers down my spine. It did become a regular affair for me from then on. I often saw men masturbating in the metro looking at us group of girls, cars stopping next to us on pretext of asking the routes, men following me as I ran for my life. From that first day on wards, I never went too near a car driving by me. Ten years down the line, I still feel the jitters as I find a car approaching me.

They look around with dirty eyes,
Waiting for them to catch her
I don’t hate men, I say yet again
But the faith seems to die
As I see another woman tortured by, a man
And you say, I am too much of a feminist.

I sat down in a shared auto ride in Patna to reach my PG house where I was living as a part of a project I was working on. It had suddenly turned dull and clouds had started gathering up. I didn’t realize till I saw the horror that I was the only woman in that auto. While getting out from the auto as a man punched me groping the front, I shouted in shock. While the auto rushed for life, I stood there on the street shouting and protesting to deaf ears. Nobody heard me. Nobody cared. I realized how at every incident I had men talking to my breasts instead of my face. That just reinforced my pain towards my self, as a woman, I felt violated again.

A girl, a woman the more I have seen, the more stories I have to share of experiencing something as hard-hitting on my mind as on my body. Men are sensible human beings, if they consider women humans in first place. Women are sensible too, if they consider themselves human. No gyan I have to share, No to-do’s, Neither will I say that she is also a sister, a mother. Just think of her a human first.

The pain of one and every woman
Who looks around with eyes wide open
Every time
To save herself from any tiny trouble
To run away from those stripping eyes
To fight back those violating hands
Is she alone? Am I alone?

To that man in metro who ‘relieved’ himself by looking at me. To that guy in that car who showed me his ‘thing’ on pretext of asking the route. To that office colleague who ‘spoke’ to my breasts every single time we talked. To that man in that lane who chuckled and flashed his thing as he peed in open.

These acts don’t make you strong. You are weak. So weak. Because, you are scared of a woman’s sexuality.

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