Of Camels and Straws

All of us have a carefully constructed public persona.

Mine is of a no-nonsense, ball-busting, passive-aggressive smart-mouth. Most men I meet get intimidated by this image and I don’t blame them. Problem is, like all carefully constructed things public, it’s a sham. That’s the only possible explanation.

I was first felt up in public when I was around 11. I was so shocked that I reacted only when the creep had felt me up a second time. By then, of course, it was too late to do anything about it.

Since then, it’s been innumerable faceless strangers with dirty whisperings as they pass me by, innocent, “accidental” brushes in all the right places and sometimes, worse. Why, I’ve even sat mutely, my smile frozen on my lips as a pervert rick-driver alluded to the most filthy things while casually driving me to Bandra station.

Every single time this has happened, I go through the same motions. First, of course, is the shock. Next comes the anger, a hot wave of fury that makes my fists itch and my brain burn. And then, comes the totally impotent exercise of imagining what I could have done, what I should have done to the pervert who’s making me feel like this.

Today was different. Today was special.

I started the day with forgetting my cell phone at home, going back to get it, missing my train in the process and getting felt up on the station when I finally reached.

This time, I yelled. He feigned surprise, all innocent and quizzical. “What happened?”, he asked me in English. The thing these guys don’t get is that a woman always knows. It’s instinct and it’s strong and there’s no fooling it. A woman always knows. I yelled again. I created a scene. And then, I walked away and got into the train.

Why didn’t I slap him, a part of me asked. Because I didn’t want to touch him, I told myself.

Liar.

The truth is, I am a wuss, a wimp, a lily-livered, yellow-bellied chicken. A sheep in wolf’s clothing. An utter disgrace to… well, myself really.

Now comes the part about the mixed blessing.

On my way back from office, I was felt up again. Unfortunately, for the creep involved, this time my body acted on auto-pilot.

I swear, I didn’t even think once, forget twice. I slapped him, I hit him, I cursed him using the choicest Hindi swearwords so that he could understand what I was calling him. I did all this in full view of the crowd outside Bandra station and I did it while he kept saying “Sorry, sorry”, as if that was going to make it better.

It felt good. Not nearly good enough, but enough to get some self-respect back.

I could’ve done more. I should’ve done more. But it’s a start. And I have sixteen years worth of catching up to do.

I pity the poor bastard who tries to touch me next.

14 thoughts on “Of Camels and Straws

  1. Your post reminds me of the day when my sister told me everything about the kind of things she faces along with her friends in Delhi buses and autos, while I was still in senior secondary or something. She also managed to yell and hit someone once, and after that she has pretty much managed things well.Proud of you, if I am allowed to say that. Show those perverts what they are getting into. Hit them in their balls the next time. Have fun.

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  2. Well your post has compelled me to reply. After all these years of silence and blood boiling and fury, I finally reacted a couple of months ago and slapped a guy. Twice. And…he slapped me back and ran off. But I was more upset by people’s (read friends and family) reactions to it. ‘Why did you have to react physically? Could you not have just given him a couple of gaalis?’ Ha. As if that helps. Madusa

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  3. Well I am what you were before you made the successful(and may I say brave) transition. These have to be the only times when my body is willing me to move but my brain just refuses to co-operate. I hope to be there someday. Till then let me just revel and take pride in one more of us crossing the chasm.

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  4. Every single time this has happened, I go through the same motions….lol! very very true. It happens with me too…every single time.You slapped that guy. Good. But if i were you, I wd be careful. You see not only guys like them are creeps, they are pathetically egoistic impotent bastards. I know of someone who was once teased.She being a martial arts expert grabbed him by the throat and slammed him on the ground. People around clapped for her. Next day, the guy’s brother threw acid on her face.The best technique to deal with guys like them is to first give a nice slap and go all apologetic saying “OMG! I’m so sorry…I thought it was my boyfriend….sooo sorry….are you hurt?”….That way you are not hurting their ego and they will not hold anything against you since he would know he is guilty.Learnt this at a workshop…< HREF="http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/mp/2007/12/10/stories/2007121050010100.htm" REL="nofollow">check this out <>

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  5. to the last anonymous commentor, there is not fool proof way of reacting to such a situation, but what you suggest it probably onf of the worst possible ways. sure, excessive displays of power and anger can lead to some retaliation, but it makes no sense to slap your “boy friend” are you a woman? ever tried this? ladies, it takes a lot to retaliate, it takes courage, preperation, anger, and requires de regulation of your pacifism. the best way to ensure you react is to prepare to react before anything happens. veda, good one , again.ciaoschizo

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  6. To everybody who has commented so far: Thanks so much for all your support and kind words. It makes me feel… good.Blank Noise: It’d be a pleasure to feature on your blog. Do count me in.

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  7. Wow. You go girl! Still haven’t been able to do that. The most I did was when on a bus from Pune I held up the hand that was feeling me up and started yelling. Guy got a couple of slaps and was off our bus. But this was Pune. Can’t say the same about Mumbai where I don’t think others will care to wait and help a woman.

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