The Deep Relation Between Identity And Power
This happened a few days ago that made me tremble to my core. It was like a sudden jolt which shook me deeply. A lot of people might laugh at it or completely disregard the situation, but I think I have an idea about how terrible cases emerge from such small instances. It was a feeling of utter helplessness and disregard for a woman, the irony being I was at much more “power” than anyone in this particular case.
I was on my way to get a few things from the nearby market. In broad daylight inside my so-called “secured” and “gated” colony, I was eve-teased by a group of young boys who were strolling inside my complex, dressed in school uniforms. They were clearly not from my society, which is again a security question that can be taken up separately. I believe they were no more than eighteen years old, which makes them almost a decade younger than me. And if it is to be believed, in India we have always been taught to respect our elders and always honour them by addressing them politely. Not that I was expecting all this from strangers, but I definitely didn’t expect them to sing a few sleazy songs while we crossed paths. And when I did not respond and crossed them without looking (which is how most of us react when we are eve-teased, we have almost gotten used to it), I felt something hit me. Two pebbles were thrown at me from behind, with full intention of letting me know that they are trying to grab my attention in the weirdest kind of way possible. I obviously got furious, and looked back at them, since I knew they were school kids. To my surprise, they looked back at me right in the eye with no sense of guilt or shame of any kind. Seeing this kind of confidence in such young boys scared me as I only thought of what they would grow up to be. For me, considering the series of experiences I have had all throughout my life and what I have heard from my friends, this is alarming, for those who are yet to face what these young lads are doing.
And what gives them such conviction that eve teasing and throwing pebbles at a woman in broad daylight is actually something that is acceptable? What kind of agency is fostering this kind of behaviour at such a young age?
If you ask me, the more I think about it, the more nervous I get. Frankly, I could have given them a piece of my mind since they were young and I had the automatic liberty and right to show them the correct path. That at their age, they should be reading and concentrating on far better things than lurk around societies and throw pebbles at women. But seeing their belief and attitude at that moment, I decided not to. I was protecting myself, as I did not want them to harm me in any way, since you never know what I can possibly invite by interacting with such minds. Being a single woman living alone in the city, I have to take certain precautions. I am empowered in many ways and fortunate as well when it comes to my education and career paths that I had the privilege of choosing for myself, but this incident did not allow me to take such a step. I decided to ignore them, and go back to doing what I was supposed to do. Once I was back in the colony after my little shopping, these young boys were still lurking around my house. I was surprised to be eve teased again, as I was hardly over what had happened a few minutes ago. They were still signalling at me, in their crushed school uniforms and whistling abilities, and I had no other way but to take a different route to my house so that they do not find out where I live.
Like I said, this might not seem “too dangerous” to a lot of people, including a few I discussed this with, as there was no attempt to touch physically or use any kind of visible force to establish control over me, the woman here.
However, such confident attempts at an age this young, with no remorse, guilt or shame when confronted is something we all should be scared of. Delhi does not have a very good image in this regard as we all are aware of, but my fear is not just for this case alone, but all the series of events I have faced in my life so far.
Such cases have happened throughout my life, which I have obviously not spoken about. Since the time I was as little as 5 years old till today, harassment and molestation sadly has become like a permanent part and parcel of my life in one way or the other. Some memories are so harsh and vivid till today, that I cannot let go of them, even if I want to. From the tuition teacher to the swimming coach, from the neighbourhood uncle to the tabla teacher, from the friend’s boyfriend to the driver, I have been touched when I didn’t want to be touched, force has been used upon me when I did not have the physical or mental strength to even understand what consent means. And my parents, despite having protected me all their lives as their only daughter could never even find out about such things. They might think they have managed to save me from such vultures, when the truth is completely different. Vultures disguise themselves really well, they even enter your house, and even your room sometimes.
My father has picked and dropped me personally in his car so many times, he must think he has managed to save his little daughter. But he could not keep an eye all the time, could he? Nor could my working mother. And they have done their best, most parents do.
At 27, if I am this scared to even take an action, why will I want to ever bring a child into this world? What does a five year old tell her mother? She does not even know what was being done to her, all she knows is that she did not like it. As human beings, we are only getting more busy with time, and we have a lot of agencies and helpful people to take care of our children. But we cannot control the intentions and what they do to our children. What we can certainly do and which a lot of parents are doing these days is telling their children and helping them understand and distinguish between a “right” and a “wrong” touch. But I still think, with the kind of experiences I have had, there are still some probable situations which parents might not be able to control all the time, even if they intend to. And such instances of abuse, more particularly of child abuse, affects the psychology of a young mind in so many ways, even leading to the formation of their personalities.
I would not want my child to grow up in a world that does not respect sanity. I will constantly live in fear. I know I would miss out somewhere. And hence, I do not know if I can do this.