If you were to have met me a couple of days back on the Intercity Express and were to surmise from the smug expression on my face that I was content at a job well done, you would not have been far from the truth. The next question that begs an answer would then arise: What exactly had I been up to, prior to boarding said train, to give me that air of euphoria, not to mention the accompanying grin.
I punched him. Yessir I did. I did not think of the consequences. I just balled my fist and let him have it between his shoulder blades squarely. Unfortunately it hadn’t been his nose, but his retreating back my fist connected with. What I really would have loved to do of course was scrrrrratch and leave my mark. Sigh, but one has to take these things philosophically and be content with what one could manage under the circumstances, especially at such short notice. Besides I keep very short nails.
I know at this point you are well and truly baffled. You don’t associate me with violence, certainly not intentional aggression or intent to harm. I may inadvertently biff people on their heads if they aren’t careful about where their head is when a coconut nestles in my palm. But, being willfully violent is definitely not my cup of tea. Someone who wouldn’t say ‘boo’ to a goose is how you can describe me.
Even though I might not say ‘boo’ to a goose, there are a lot of people whom I want boo-ed out of existence in addition to being punched and scratched. The perverts who go by the innocuous name of eve-teasers (teasers, my foot!) and their ilk, who live under the illusion that any woman on the street is his very own to grope and paw and feel up as he wishes, unquestionably makes me wistful about brutal ways of dealing with them.
There I was at the Ernakulam South railway station with the L & M (the Lord and Master for the benefit of newbies to my page) waiting for the Intercity Express, which train the concerned authorities informed us the general public who wished to board it, via the shining red lights of the display board, would arrive on Platform 2 in due course. The train we were told was already running late by about half an hour.
The waiting public on Platform 2 which represented a cross section of the population were definitely a bored lot on that Sunday afternoon. Listless, one could describe them as, except for the hyperactive kids who kept their parents on their toes with demands for Frooti and Lays and such items of interest to them which pattern I scrupulously followed with the L & M, in turn keeping him on his toes and thus a fitter man.
The mood on the platform lifted considerably when the announcer after many false starts of ‘aane ki sambhaavna hai’ (is expected to arrive) finally said with surety that the train had been sighted and was even now thundering towards the platform. As an afterthought the announcer added (one could almost hear the person yawn)….to PLatform 1.
There was an immediate upheaval, and a mad scramble towards the connecting bridge. The entire population on Platform 2 had now to shift base to Platform 1 with bag, baggage, kids and elderly parents in tow. People could be heard cursing, mildly of course, since this being a common occurrence, they weren’t too surprised. But can one really blame the authorities??! How would the poor things inside their offices know which platform was free unless and until they sighted the train on the horizon?? One should be thankful that they did make the announcement rather than let the travelers figure things out for themselves.
Anyways, a sea of individuals now moved as one with but a single thought of boarding the Intercity Express which could be heard and also be seen moving on to the Platform 1. Just managing to reach the right platform, the L & M and I stood on the outskirts of the throng watching the coaches move past. We had reserved our seats unlike many others who had to find their seats as soon as the train came to a halt.
There was a slow trickle of travelers between us and the throng waiting to board the Intercity Express, moving in the opposite side, towards the entrance, probably those that had alighted from some other train. The line was moving slowly due to the rush. A man stood beside me waiting for the ones ahead to move on. Half my mind was on the coaches and the other on the men moving to and fro in front of me. In India, especially in nammude swantham (our own) Kerala, a woman HAS to be aware of the men (age no bar) in crowds AT ALL TIMES. Period. This man paused next to me as if looking at the train and the next instant before you could blink an eye deliberately and coolly pressed his left arm against my breast and walked ahead nonchalantly.
I lunged forward in an instinctive reaction to catch hold of his arm, my imaginary talons out to scratch. My attempt to catch hold of his shirt failed as my hand slipped on his polyester shirt. Frustrated by my failed attempt, I recovered instantly to ball my fist and bring it down with force on his retreating back. Thuddd.
The man went Ohhhh and turned around in a self righteousness manner. The modus operandi in these occasions is to act the injured party. This is a crowd sister (they have the temerity to call you sister!), sometimes people brush against each other. If you don’t like it, stay at home, they go. If ever there is an Oscar to be won, these creeps will win it hands down for the portrayal of the wronged man enacted with such conviction. This creep was no different. He turned with an injured look to find me glaring at him and was in all probability about to get into his spiel.
‘Don’t even try telling me it was accidental’ I cautioned him, my eyebrows knit to their best.
The man opened his mouth and then clamped it shut, swallowing whatever he was about to say for he had seen the more than six feet tall man standing next to me. For a minute I was glad of the L & M’s presence because in Malluland, the general public is notorious for siding with the perpetrator rather than the victim. They smile knowingly and leer among themselves making the victim feel worse for objecting publicly to harassment.
The thud and my terse words all happened in the shortest time that even as the L & M bent to keep the bags he had in both his hands on the ground, the man had disappeared mingling with the crowd. Having no time to lose, we turned and ran to find our coach and seats, with the L & M leading the way with his long legs while I followed at a pace more suited to my shorter ones that carried a huge frame.
My eyebrows were still knit and feelings of ‘how dare he??’ were boiling inside me. Suddenly the realization hit me. I had hit him. I had punched the man who misbehaved with me. Maybe not painfully, but I had retaliated enough for him to be jolted out of his complacency. He would remember me for some time at least.
The thought made me laugh out without care for my surroundings. When the L & M turned around to look for me, he found me grinning from ear to ear. I am sure at that time he was totally confused. First he hears a thud, finds me bristling at a man and then a little later finds me laughing to myself. It is only when we were ensconced in our seats and the train was on its way that I was able to fill him in on the details.
Yeah, I am certainly not one to say boo to a goose. Why should I scare the poor innocent creature anyways?? But I also believe that perverts who cannot respect the sanctity of a human body should be horsewhipped. I believe and passionately so, that no one, absolutely no one has the right to touch another (not even in marriage) without that person’s permission. Sadly, you find fellow perverts standing up for each other here rather than for the one harassed. Crowded buses, trains, temple grounds, platforms, movie halls etc are fertile playground for this depraved scum to grope women for cheap thrills. And the Stupid Society consisting of you and me to which everyone bows in servility asks its daughters to be careful rather than order its sons to keep their hands to themselves.
Ahhh, in case you were wondering and for those who do not know me, I am on the wrong side of fifty and on the particular day this happened was dressed in a salwar-kameez with the all-important dupatta in place, not that it should make any difference to anyone at all what another wears. So much for the ‘she asked for it by her way of dressing’ theory of the Moralist Morons!!
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