The year started on a somber note with news of the mass molestation of women at Bangalore during New Year’s revelries. Enough has been written about it, so, no, I am not going to write about it too. But I’d like to say a few words about some of the reactions I saw from a few ‘friends’ on Facebook (where else?!).

What has happened to our beloved city? It has changed. It wasn’t like this in the years past. There were both men and women lamenting in a similar vein. Never mind that there were voices (from the city itself) screaming to be heard that cried out that the city had not been an idyllic place for women/girls even decades back. No place has ever been, not for women.

Some people are like my mother-in-law. She just ignored what she did not want to accept. Like her, these people hear, see, assimilate and accept ONLY what they want to. I mean, I don’t know just where they were/are living looking at how they evaluate things. Under a rock seems too good and well-connected to the outside world kind of place considering the garbage they spout.

To the women: What? Do you have selective amnesia or something? Don’t you remember anything from the times you grew up in? Let me see. You are actually a Princess and lived in a golden cage, moved around in an escorted vehicle, with armed guards and everything, so no one ever tried to paw or grope you. Mere mortals like us (Yes, every single one of us) who used the public transport system, or just had to walk down the road to a friend’s house or get something from the market have had to face some form of sexual harassment.

From the horny young who thought they owned the world and all the women/girls there in to poke and touch, to the lascivious old uncles and grandpas, they were NO different back then. At worst they forced themselves on us, sometimes even the tiny tots. At best, the %#@*!!#** merely brushed past us, trying to make sure they touched parts of our anatomy of great interest to them. And in a crowd they went berserk just as much as the ones who did on New Year’s eve last, and molested girls and women at random. What if we did not have New Year revelries back then? We always had festival days when people thronged the temple premises for them to indulge in their particular ‘sport’.

Yes, dear Princesses (or pretense Princesses), that’s what happened to commoners in the supposedly idyllic past (Idyllic, my foot!). If you weren’t molested, thank whosoever you want to for the luxury you had and keep your mouth shut because your insensitivity is showing. Just because you are ignorant and have amnesia to boot, don’t overwrite our difficult lives with your painted lies.

To the men: Like, really? You feel you are competent to comment on this? Oh, I know. It’s your experience (or not) in sexually harassing women that gives you the privilege. Right? I didn’t paw or grope anyone. Neither did I see any of my family members or friends or even strangers do that. None of the women/girls I have known ever complained. So I am sure it never happened in the past. Pah! I bet you are also the kind who  believes that since you have had a sumptuous meal no one else in this world is hungry, right? Yes, I knew it.

I also know another thing. That you are the kind stupid enough to believe that people in your circle (self-respecting and forward-thinking, modern, educated and all that blah blahs) never turn into a hooligans when in a mob. You are so sure of their essential goodness. So you conveniently palm off groping and mass molestation on those from the lower strata of society and also migrants. Yes, migrants, the repository of all evil. Nothing but bullsh*t, I tell you.

The truth is you dare not open your eyes properly and take look at that man in the next cubicle in your office or the one in your family or friends circle, with whom you are friends with, or share a few jokes occasionally. You are not willing to accept that the well-dressed young man or the respected uncle of yours are not averse to pinching a few bottoms or squeezing some breasts in crowded places if they think they can get away with it. Shifting the blame on to outsiders, pinning it on migrants, eases the gnawing in your heart. Everything is still fine with your own world this way.

I pity you, both the men and women, who cannot look straight at a problem and face it. I am angry with you for being insensitive to sufferers by denying them. I laugh at your (pretended?) naivete in thinking the past was hunky dory for women. I am concerned at your refusal to make yourself aware that culprits abound in every environment and sometimes exist even in your own home.

And tomorrow I will tell you why you are oh-so wrong about the glorious past (whatever that is).

©Shail Mohan 2017