#PINK came, conquered and won our hearts. It’s been five days of PINK and I still cannot get the movie out of my system. #IAMPINK is a movement. You have seen how Prashant Mehra, Meenal Arora, Falak Ali and Andrea moves us. Today, I am glad to announce that the blog shares the PINK stories of women who choose to stand for themselves and hit back. It’s a series sharing the stories of such bold women where the blog will go all PINK for a week. Today, Namrata shares her PINK story with us. I am glad and grateful to be the medium and be part of the change.
All throughout my growing up years, I experienced eve teasing and molestation like any other girl. And, just like any other girl the fault was also invariably mine. Right from being teased for wearing a sleeveless top to being proposed in the tuition class, it was me who kept on sending the wrong signals. As a result of it by the time I was about to start college, I was scared of crowded places as much as I was scared of lonely places because that is where those people thrived. I refused to go alone anywhere, I refused to board a bus which was overcrowded because someone had just pinched my bottom. I hate to travel alone in trains because people would touch me inappropriately on some pretext or other.End result a timid me who was completely lost and had ventured on an endless guilt trip.
Every time I heard someone whistle as I walked by, my thoughts immediately would be, “I shouldn’t have worn this shirt. It is too transparent. That is why this man whistled like this.” Not for once did I think I wasn’t wrong nor was my clothing. But as they say, anything in excess is poison and that is what happened in my case. This constant fear in which I was living since so many years was becoming poisonous, threatening to spread across my system and I wasn’t willing to give in.
Circa 2002, my maternal grandfather was hospitalized in a critical condition. The whole extended family was called to be by his side at this time. I was mighty upset I remember faintly because that was the first death I was witnessing so closely in the family. Moreover, I was spending my whole day by his side in the hospital, which is not a happy place to me. There were many disturbing thoughts in my mind; the worst one being the feeling of helplessness at not being able to do much for him when he was in pain. When it was suggested that he needs a 24 X7 caretaker, I had happily volunteered for it only to be told, “You can’t, because you are a girl.” I don’t know if this was a trigger for my frustration but all I know is that I was frustrated at the fact that my being a girl was responsible for so many limitations while being a girl was never a choice I had. I was being judged for something I had not even decided or chosen and still the punishment was mine to bear with, in this case lifelong.
With such radical thoughts in my mind, I went to the railway station to pick up my aunt. Along with these thoughts, there was a parallel thought in my mind which was cursing my mother for sending me here. The moment I saw crowds I would go pale with fear, my heartbeats would increase and I would start sweating profusely. The same thing happened but I had to pick her up at any cost. Muttering under my breath, I crossed the bridge and was about to turn left to take the staircase to platform 3 when a firm, hairy hand brushed past my chest. For a moment, I thought I was imagining stuff because of the heightened fearful state of mind but no I was sure it was for real. I immediately turned around and what do I see! A short man, bulky in-built is staring at me. No, strike that off. Leering at me and I was sure it was him. The nasal twanged voice of the announcer reminded me that my aunt’s train had arrived and that I should quicken my pace.
I jumped down the stairs and reached in time to bump into my aunt who was about to alight from the train. In all honesty, I would have actually forgotten the whole incident just like a million others previously had that guy not been standing on the stairs again. I think that he mistook my turning around to be a positive sign, perhaps and was waiting for me to try again this time. Try again he did and how! There was a strange heady feeling I was undergoing at that moment. Fear mixed with frustration and irritation. I was observing him from the corner of my eye and the moment I saw his hand move, before he could touch me I grabbed it tightly.
He was taken aback. For a moment our eyes met and I was glad to see fear in his eyes, that fear which before few moments was in mine. He was about to say something, “Eh….” While constantly trying to free his arm from my hands when I screamed, “Aei… what do you think you were doing? Let’s go to the police station, it seems you have a problem keeping your hands under control.”
Given the peak hours and the rush of passengers alighting and boarding trains, the runway bridge was heavily crowded. I was constantly trying to hold on to his hand tightly and at the same time not lose sight of my aunt who had come to the city for the first time when I got pushed by a commuter in a hurry and his hand slipped out of mine. Last I remember he was trying to run as quickly as possible and kept turning back to see if I was chasing him or not.
Surprisingly I am a state level judo champion which was long forgotten till that day. I was in a mood to refresh my memory of those kicks and lifts on that man but for his fate. All was not lost that day, on the contrary, a lot was gained. That moment gave me strength. It gave me belief that it is not my fault. It never was, it never will be. Dressing the way I want is not an invitation to be leered at or to pass lewd comments. If I chose to wear western clothes, it no way means anyone can touch me without my permission. Though that incident is more than a decade old I still remember it in detail because that day I realized what I could do. The power was in my hands and I had to just choose to use it. I learned to stand up for myself and say “No”.