Hadn't thought about these in a while.. but the posts triggered the memories . They still hurt, I can actually feel myself flinch, shrink, back off.. even at just the thought.
How bad were the DTC buses? How bad was just walking down the road? It was so routine, and so common, and so trivially called 'harassment'. But what does that actually entail? That weekly at least once something harrowing would happen, leaving you in tears, angry frustrated, scared. Someone would follow you home. Someone would keep rubbing their dick against your back, or shoulder, throughout the journey. Someone would grab your boob. Someone would stare at you , their eyes boring right into your bone. Someone would sing lewd songs. Someone would ask for your rate, or better still just ask you to give a fuck. Someone would throw stones at you. yes literally. Someone would pull down their clothes and expose themselves. Over a decade, such stuff happened hundreds of times. In the anonymity of crowds. To everyone. Every damn week, sometimes everyday.
But it wasn't the anonymous 'eve teasing' that left the deepest scars. No those are reserved for other instances.
Like the time a neighbourhood uncle, nearing retirement, cornered an 11 year old in a lift and grabbed and kissed her. The stubble felt like needles.
Like the question, can a 5 year old give consent? Does a 5 year old know what is being consented to ?
Whats the worst part? So many women I know, shake their head knowingly about books like 'bitter chocolate', about the uncle from 'monsoon wedding', about safe short words like 'abuse', 'assault'. So many of them have said, over the decades, 'metoo' . No one wants the details. Me neither. I want to forget my own details, leave alone asking someone for theirs. Its scary how many of them I've met.
So why am I publicly listing details today. Because I am tired of the safe short words. As if 'eve teasing' in a bus is just someone singing a love lorn song at your wistfully. It not. Because I want to shake people I love by the shoulders and say - listen. Goddammit, this is happening under your noses, how can you not see?
Time has scabbed over the incidents. Maybe geography or age or my own armour have helped prevent much shit happening last few years. But the raw open wound is the one that bleeds every time I hear the incredulous ' wow how could it be so bad? how could x have got away for so long ? '
replace x with the flavor of the day - harvey, tarun, arunabh, travis, phaneesh, babas, bla bla
ps - please spare me the #notallmen. I know that not all men, in fact probably a majority of men, don't go around being physically abusive. I understand the 80/20 rule. What I don't know , is what do you call a person who can't see what is happening right in front of them.
This is a call to get glasses as a very first step.