Fear of the Crowded Touch

Updated: May 27, 2021

Story By: Anonymous

My college days are the most memorable days of my life. Commuting on a bus with friends was always fun. The route was one of the busiest in the city and buses were always crowded. It was a short ride between my home and college. So why bother if the bus is crowded, right? The bus conductor has to slide through people to give tickets and collect money, which is pretty normal for a crowded bus. In the crowd, there’s always uneasiness of movement and daily commute makes you numb to it. An 18-year-old, not having the complete knowledge of sexual misconduct, couldn’t imagine the situation being advantageous to someone. And like every other day, that day too, I and my friend got into a bus to reach college not knowing this day was going to be a nightmare that changed my thoughts and life. 

By routine, the conductor was sliding between us to collect money and suddenly, I could feel him touching my vagina. I could figure that it was intentional and still had doubts as it was too crowded and it could have been a sudden movement. But, it happened once again and again. It happened thrice and I knew he was harassing me. 

Nevertheless, all of a sudden I went blank. It was like a complete conflict between my thoughts as to what had happened. I couldn’t retaliate. I couldn’t speak up. I couldn’t digest the fact that someone could harass women in hindsight and it can go unnoticed. I was left shocked after this incident. Such conversations were not a part of our day to day life and I could never muster enough courage to talk about this with anyone. As a result, this incident instilled a fear in me - of commuting in crowded buses.

I began avoiding the crowded buses. I would go early and wait for long hours to take a bus that was relatively empty. Now, even if someone touched me unintentionally, it would take me back to that traumatic experience. 

Even many years after that experience, I still want to go back to that day and raise my voice. If only I had stopped him then, maybe many like me wouldn’t have to go through that phase in that crowded bus again the way I did. I didn’t speak up back then, but that incident has prepared me to never endure a similar situation again. 

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