This Sunday night, me and my bestie Remya decided to celebrate Friendship Day. I am back in Patna after a brief stint last year working with an organization that’s striving to improve the health care services of Bihar.
So we were going to Hotel Maurya for a coffee on a cycle rickshaw (Please note that Maurya is considered a 5 star hotel) and we spotted two men peeing right in the middle of the road. My friend in signals told them that they should not do this. Yes told them that they should not pee right at the public place. We didn’t make fun of them, we didn’t laugh. We just told them that it’s wrong.
Few minutes later, these men came from behind on a bike and the one sitting pillion tried to hit me or slap. My hair was falling on my face and that is why he missed. But he had to hit me, the plan was to teach us a lesson, so he grabbed whatever hair he could grab in his hand and pulled me off. The first thing that occurred to me after realizing what has actually happened was to look for the vehicle number. The brave duo were smart enough to cover it with a gamcha before coming to hit me.
I was shocked, I was stunned, I was scared. Yes I was scared, for the first time in my life I was hit. I was scared to tell it to my papa who hates the fact that I work in Bihar. I was scared of the fact that what if he had gun and decided to take revenge the other way. I was scared to accept it publicly but when I thought over it, i decided to speak. The first thing that I did was to make a police complaint and thanks to cctv in adjoining shops I was assured by SP Patna that they will be nabbed.
The whole incident is not important in terms of what happened but the mindset behind it. The mindset that’s rotten, that’s disgusting to its core when they think “ Wait, I will come back to teach you a lesson”. How dare you not accept my proposal , Wait, I will come back to teach you a lesson with a bottle of acid. How dare you say a no to my untoward advances, Wait, I will come back to teach you a lesson and rape you. How dare you say a no to sex when I am your husband, wait I will teach you a lesson. How dare you pointed out that I should not pee in the middle of the road, wait I will come come back to teach you a lesson , wait I will hit you
I have been told that Bihar is a wrong place to speak up, Bihar is a wrong place to take a stand. But then if we shut up just because a pervert has the guts to slap me in the middle of a posh road in the capital city of a state, every place is a wrong place to speak up for any woman in any part of the world. I had to speak up so that they don’t think it’s so easy to go off after a show of masculinity. I had to speak up because in my small town called Bhilai, I have two niece who want to be like their bua when they grow up and I don’t want them to grow up in a world where we live in fear. I had to speak up because in Patna women’s college when I spoke at their event, hundreds of girl said they wish to be courageous like me and I simply cannot deny that trust. I had to speak up because I have a conscience to answer. I had to speak up because I share the bond of a friendship with a girl who has no second thoughts about standing up. I had to speak up because shutting up is not me, because I want that shutting up is not the way out for any woman.
For the brave men who ran away speedily after taking that “manly revenge”………..Dude someone needs to tell you that you are fucked up big time and hope you have brushed up your ego and gave it a boost, this very time it has gone wrong. For years, when everyone asked me if it was difficult to be an independent woman travelling alone, going to difficult places, living by myself I brushed them off, saying you needed to know the rules, Don’t fear, stand up, speak loud, and enjoy. Most of the days I am proud of being one of them but one fine day incidents like this strip you of all the mettle that you think you are made of.
People told to always be cautious and to shut up (I myself did that the same day). Others will tell me that what happened to me was normal because we live in a patriarchal society. Others said that I should not get involve in FIR jhanjhat and let the man go. It is bizarre that my options in this situation involved letting go off the perpetrators to release myself of conflict or standing up to them.
Do you really thought that there are any options? I shouldn’t ever be asked to let go, to bhool jao, to stop thinking about it because standing up against an assault on your liberty is not even a choice at all. We owe it to the same society we live in.