Posted by Taniya Roy
There is a rather bad saying: curiosity kills the cat. Now first, I myself am a rather curious person and, second, I do love cats. Curiosity breeds all things new. So, it’s safe to conclude that I am pro-curiosity person. And, so my younger me was always under the illusion that curiosity is a thing of the mind…and the mind alone. So wrong, I was.
I started meeting strange new nares of curiosity in people, as I climbed my ladder of adolescence. And surprisingly, mind was the last one of ‘em. This one is from when I was the ninth standard. I had boarded the back seat of an autorickshaw. The late 30’s man beside me was shifting (a lot) in his seat which was strange provided he had a lot of room. After what felt like two seconds, he finally found the composure he was looking for. The whole of his left arm against the whole of my right hand-side profile. As I struggled to hold to my school bag in the cramped seat of the speeding vehicle, the elbow to which the hand belonged rested itself slowly onto my waist. The otherwise gentleman seemed to have found his ultimate comfort spot. Such a strange man: finding comfort in other people’s discomfort!
After what felt like two seconds, he finally found the composure he was looking for. The whole of his left arm against the whole of my right hand-side profile. As I struggled to hold to my school bag in the cramped seat of the speeding vehicle, the elbow to which the hand belonged rested itself slowly onto my waist.
Uss raat, apun 2 baje tak roya!
I developed a fear of riding autorickshaws for 3-4 odd months and lost all worldly sanity when I saw any person facially resembling the auto-man. Then as time would have it, I started getting over the incident. Thank Heavens, time exists! But then again, time only ushered in my life the various ‘spots’ of interest that some men like to nurture. I learnt that when out in public, women become public properties. “If you cannot handle a crowd, travel in your private car, beta!” I learnt to fend my body with commando-ready arms at busy places with busy people around. “It’s the crowd, didi!” Funnily enough, it has always been a crowd and that too a faceless one.
Each day became this big game of survival – trying not to fall in murky water. The least-funny version of Takeshi’s castle, in retrospect, except that I never got to hear the air horn blow to know that I had to be in ninja-ready mode. Now.
Now, eve-teasers are one class. Funny that no term as adam-teasers exist, but these are direct, straight-to-the-point harassers. One can easily get their hands on the women’s handbook to just give it to their faces. But, there is another stealthier and sleazier class. The class that does all the evil and claims to be saintly. The class that leans on your back, 100% face-front, in a busy metro (some even grinds! Oh. The. Audacity.) The class that very casually brushes against you while you are busy talking over the phone on an empty street. The class that keeps on eyeing you up at parties, meetings, griha parvesh and even kirtans for all that matters. The kind that stabs your blooming sense of self-worth with just an elbow at the backseat of a speeding autorickshaw.
I meet these earnestly educated and immensely innocent men every day. And I bet you do too. I even sit beside and talk to some. I have long given myself this compensatory thought that maintaining an unapproachable composure would make me invincible and put a stone sheath around the touchable parts of my body, perhaps. Just maintain a rude face, woman! That’s that. So, wrong I was.
I have long given myself this compensatory thought that maintaining an unapproachable composure would make me invincible and put a stone sheath around the touchable parts of my body, perhaps. Just maintain a rude face, woman! That’s that. So, wrong I was.
I was there again. This time, a sweet uncle lost in the deepest bellies of darling sleep. He was barely managing to sit in the seat adjoining mine in the office shuttle that I take every morning at 8:26. Such solemnising was his slumber that his body exhibited as much control as a bad day of diarrhoea. Once he was almost collapsing sideways onto me, while at other times, his elbows were giving way to gravity, and coming to rest, directly against my waist (!) I would have gone all awww for him and would have even offered him my shoulder to lean on. But then it happened! I caught him smile perversely at me while he got down at his stop. A smile of conquest. A smile that messed with my brain.
No, I didn’t fall in love with him, duh! Instead, I got slapped. On both cheeks (because no non-violence). By reality and its naked sadness. Did the same thing just happen again? Did my apathy just got played? Who are these people? What pleasure can they possibly derive with the smallest of their elbow contacting something even remotely female?
I am 99% (if not 100%) sure, all women go about their day dodging men elbows, hands, legs, penises, opinions and all possible permutations and combinations of these in their day-to-day lives. And now the elbows have joined force too!
I am on the lookout for a space-time matrix where my body would be mine and mine only. Unlike museum exhibits that wear ‘Strictly Do Not Touch’-es yet get eroded every day by the touch of so many passing fingers. Because, for some, doing the undoable is apparently the next step to achieving it all!
Taniya is a shy Bong from Kolkata, the city of sepia dreams. A ‘paw’rent, semi-colon enthusiast and wordsmith (yes, exactly in that order), she writes for a living and lives for writing her thoughts out. All her teeth are chocolate-sweet, but she keeps on planning to climb the health mountain some day. Binging on psychological thrillers and disturbing her furry babies ‘Gupikanta’ and ‘Nutubehari’ (while they sleep) are her other top priorities in life. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.
Featured Image Source: Quartz