His silence conveyed that something was majorly wrong. I was in no mood to have a heavy conversation. The rain drops were still shimmering on the freshly washed leaves and the eastern sky was seeped in a rosy hue.
It was becoming uncomfortable.
“Alright , what’s eating you?”
“I could have fucking strangled him with my bare hands If Only I could know him. I had a fair idea but that hand had no face. ”
I waited for him to go on. The park was empty so we decided to walk the talk in the serene evening.
He narrated how a hand appeared in a crowded metro and began to grope, touching , pressing his female companion’s body. No , she wasn’t “dressed provocatively” and did not do anything to “entice” the pervert.
I listened with contemplation.
“Why are some Indian men such perverts?”
“Good Question but it is not just Indian men. Maybe the number of sexual abuse / street harassment or eve teasing are more here but the situation is as bad as anywhere in the world I guess.
I too have experienced it many times and trust me it doesn’t end on the streets and it isn’t just about physical touch. I have seen the lust in the eyes, in the gestures , in the comments and much more. However I may be dressed I am conscious of those stares, I am conscious of the hidden agendas and the underlying meaning in their conversations or offhand remarks.
Are you aware that it’s not limited to real world , that sexual harassment is rampant on internet and by unsolicited phone calls? Have you heard of Sexting ? ” I asked
“Yes, irrespective of age, from school girls to elder women, some men are relentless. All they see are breasts. Filthy animals, they strip you naked with their fucking eyes.” He fumed.
“Ah! Don’t insult the animals my boy.”
I remembered how one day the autowala kept staring at me from the rear view mirror and deliberately applying the brakes and entering pot holes and puddles on the road. He kept turning back and staring with a twisted smile on his face. As I sat stone faced not really ready to take up the issue with him on a lonely long road.
“accidental touching/ rubbing/ pushing ” is a common thing which women experience all the time in public transport , crowded streets/ markets etc.
Do we ask for it ? Is it what we wear creates the sudden sexual urge in those men?
What utter crap.”
He told me how he had seen a gang of boys whistle and pass lewd remarks at a mom and daughter duo on a busy market lane in Patel Nagar. They were “modestly” dressed and were walking back home from school. The girl must have been 10.
“Unfortunately eve teasing has become such a universal phenomenon that we don’t even regard it as an issue. It is crazy to think that women are always at a wrong place, wrong time, in wrong clothes and in wrong company and they initiate sexual crimes ” He said reflectively. I agreed.
To think that a doctor can dare to touch and feel your private parts in the pretext of examining is unimaginable but it happened on protesting he simply expressed that ” a little ‘ fun here and there is good for healthy mind, body and soul” Bloody sucker . I wanted to smash his balls then and there but somehow managed to get out of the freaking clinic unable to collect my disoriented thoughts and shocked to core. I wonder how he runs his practice and was I the only one to be sexually targeted. I know of a case at Spinal Injury Hospital where a pregnant lady was abused by the doctor in the same manner. Too scared and ashamed she just decided to forget the ugly incident.
It was getting late so we left the park .
” Is it because of crumbling relationships that people indulge in revealing their dark secrets to strangers on social networking sites?” He asked matter-of-factly.
I was taken aback by this sudden change of topic. It’s true that social networking sites have become a comfort zone for people troubled in their relationships and life in general. chatting , talking to unknown faces behind the screen maybe helps in some way to lighten the heart but then there are incidents where this so-called ” sharing and bonding with virtual friends” leads to ugly consequences, harassment and blackmailing. I have been there seen it happening to some people I know.
I told him we will talk about it some other day but he was not giving up. He had seen me struggling to keep at bay the advances of those “available” men who went by the display picture and wanted to be “Frands” thinking that every woman is easy and on a lookout. They take the networking for dating sites and endlessly keep pushing till you want to hit them hard. A writer who found me among common friends requested to be added. After sometime he pinged on chat and asked for an evening out with him because he liked my name and found me intriguing . When I refused point-blank he stated that its good to” explore and discover each other”. I found it disgusting that a person of his caliber could stoop to such level.
We were nearing home and the young man was still in a reflective mood. “The whole scenario sucks. Be it home, workplace, streets, malls, markets, public transport, net women are not safe anywhere damn it.” He shook his ahead. I was glad he was awakening to the basic core issues that were eating up the society. I had seen him tackle some with great effectiveness. It made me feel good.
“Men too suffer ” He said .
“Yes, especially those who tag along in life holding the pallu of their mom’s sari. Those adult babies who can not think, act without permission and support of their mommy dearest.” I said with bile rising in my throat. “Let’s drop it. Some other day maybe.”
“Umm, No, I meant this abuse stuff. men too suffer at times but they suffer in silence. Maybe that is one reason the social networking sites become their ground to find comfort and solace.” ” I am not saying that justifies for what some creeps do but all men aren’t bad after all.”
I laughed. “Spoken like a man” I said. “Well, you do want to protect your tribe.”
“Naah, I know each of us is targeted due to some assholes who nothing but burden on this earth. and it agitates me”.
I felt for him. He was struggling with a lot of issues. “It is sometimes not about gender, it is about mind-set and power. It is about how open we are. Being modern is not just copying West, it is about being fearlessly yourself , it is about looking at things from a larger perspective and mainly looking within.”
“We will continue to talk more about it. I think this walk the talk idea is good.” .
He smiled. “I guess so. I hope the solutions to these things were as easy as talking about them. We talk a lot. ”
I knew he had a lot to talk about . So did I. I have seethed about various issues lately. From bomb blasts and our precariously hanging lives, sexuality, LGTB, relationships, this ridiculous obsession with body image and “beauty”, the moral dilemma and much more.
We were still hanging out in the parking lot when he suddenly caught hold of my hand and said, “let’s go have an ice cream”. I love this kid. 🙂
“Two things I want to know by the way” He said concentrating on the small round pebble he had turned into a football.
‘Why didn’t you teach a lesson of a life time to that motherfucking doctor? and
Is having a close friend of opposite sex after marriage such a turn off especially when this institution of marriage sucks( I agree to this but then can one generalize this) ? Is it infidelity to open up to someone other than your legal partner( don’t know if I liked this term but it tickled me no doubt)? Why is it that a relationship crumbles so easily and two people who swore love a few years ago can’t bear the sight of each other now and for good reasons”
Those were two too many questions.
“We will talk about it”, I said.
Sleep did not come easy to both of us that night. The questions burned like embers.
One thing was clear. In days to come we were going to have a lot of walk the talk sessions. Sometimes it is better this way.