The Candid Cuppa
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The Candid Cuppa

Appearances are Often Deceptive

It seems as if the boldest and sometimes the luckiest, survive.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Almost every day there are news items about women being molested — at home and at work, followed by outrage from readers. Once the reactions die down, life goes on. Like every woman/person reading these accounts, my blood boils. And although we claim gender-equality, women are still treated as second-class citizens, overtly or covertly.

I recall incidents from my own life when I didn’t always react the way I wished to. I know I was too ashamed to talk about them. Not anymore, though. Here is one of those “happenings” . . . or non-happenings, as I like to think of it.

The year was 1990. I was a sales manager in a reputed organization and doing quite well. The day I am talking about — was our monthly target deadline. I was expecting one last order to tip the scales for “best salesperson” that month. The customer was traveling and would return only around 4.30 that evening. As there wouldn’t be enough time for him to visit our office and finish the formalities, I agreed to drop by his home office to collect the order.

Oddly, I even recall what I was wearing that day. A red tie-dye sari with that matching blouse that tied at the back, and a top knot.

At 4 pm, I set out from my office to the client’s home office. He had previously placed an order with us and was happy. I reached his place by 4.25 pm. His wife welcomed me in and I sat in the living room to wait for the client’s return. Promptly at 4.30, there he was. His wife offered us coffee and after setting it on the table, left, as she had some work outside.

After the coffee and a little chit-chat about his business trip and the industry, the client moved over to the sofa and sat next to me, supposedly to sign the papers related to the order. I say supposedly now, but at the time I had no idea of his intentions.

He signed the order and the check and handed the papers to me.

When I reached out to take it, he didn’t let go of the papers.

Instead, he held out his other hand, palm facing upwards.

My mind was all about getting back to office before 5 pm and completing the order registration, so I was puzzled.

Then, to my utter shock, he just grabbed my hand and smiled at me.

Now — let me say that he came across as one of those gentle people, of slight build, short, bespectacled — the sort one might easily miss in a crowd. Totally non-threatening.

But you know what they say — appearances are deceptive.

This one certainly was. He probably used it as front.

As soon as he grabbed my hand, my surprise must have shown on my face. I am disgusted to admit I was speechless. Shocked. I instinctively tried to pull my hand back.

And I blurted, “Excuse me, sir, what are you doing?”

He said, “My wife has gone out. We can have fun.”

Shocked, I said the first thing I could think of. “I am not interested. Please, I have to get back to the office.”

A weak response, I know. But here’s what happened next.

He: Haha, I know you sales girls. You will protest and then enjoy.

Me: No! I am not like that.

As I said this, I had the sense to grab the check, pick up my bag, get up and move to the door.

He probably still felt cocky enough to think that I was making a token protest.

I fumbled with the door handle and opened it on the third try. I don’t mind admitting I was nervous.

But luckily for me, he simply stood up, hands now in his pockets, and watched in amusement at my panic.

I left.

I was flustered as I rushed through the gate. I even pushed my scooter a few yards away. Then I breathed, trying to calm down, half afraid he may just walk out and–who knows what he might have done. A few seconds later, I rode back to my office.

I was still upset when I entered the office. One look at my face and a couple of colleagues rushed over to ask what had happened. They always teased me about the permanent smile I seemed to have on my face. When I told them, they were furious and wanted to go beat the client to pulp. Of course, better sense prevailed.

There was another client who seemed like a really decent and straightforward person. I often had to wait in his secretary’s office to meet him and she and I became friends. One day, she emerged from his office looking rather shaken. I finished my meeting and came back to ask her what happened. What I heard was shocking.

Apparently, every time he called her into his office to take notes, he would get up and walk around the table, supposedly to visit the washroom. On his way back to his seat, he would stop behind her chair, slide his hand down her neck, and grope. It seemed unbelievable — but I knew that anything was possible.

I am angry now to think of all the comebacks I could have directed at that client and the various people who tried to molest me.

It is 2021. I am also sad to think that these incidents will never end. Most women are so afraid to even speak out about what happened. Of the few who did, the reaction almost always is that it is the woman’s fault — for dressing the way she did or for being friendly.

Never good enough
Weaker sex. Seen and not heard
“It’s not a job for women.”

Will it ever end?

Vidya Sury, Collecting Smiles. Did you smile today?

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Vidya Sury, Collecting Smiles

Vidya Sury, Collecting Smiles

Writing about Self Improvement, Mindfulness, Parenting, Health, Inspiration, Life Lessons. Enjoying showing my diabetes who’s boss. Visit: https://vidyasury.com

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