Written by Manya Sharma
I love travelling, but everytime I and my girlfriends would plan something, my parents would always refuse for some or the other reason. But, this time I was adamant and I finally did manage to go to the place I had so vehemently planned for.
The trip had gone amazingly well and we were returning back from Shimla to Chandigarh, and my eyes closed every now and then. I had a feeling that someone was constantly looking at me. I looked around and saw a man sitting on the other side of the aisle looking at me. He would avert his eyes, each time I looked towards him.
He kept on staring at me during the entire journey from Dharampur to Chandigarh. It was getting hotter and I wanted to remove my jacket, but I felt so uncomfortable to do that. I wanted to look back at him and shout at him but it’s a free country and aren’t people free to look anywhere they want. I am a strong and independent woman and I should say something because the more you keep quiet, the more you suffer, I thought. I did say something but it didn’t make any difference, it was like I was invisible.
I soon reached Chandigarh, my home town which comforted me. As the fear reduced, I felt angrier. I wanted to shout in rage for him to stop looking. I wanted to wipe that smile off his face. But I stayed put holding the urge to punch his face. My friend told me to let it go. Experienced in public travelling, she said something like this was very common for her. “You’ll always find creepy uncles” she said. “Just ignore them.” The trip was a memorable one despite the niche in the glass. When I would delve into the memories, I would think of the helpful bus rider, the kind momos vender, the beautiful view and...and the creepy uncle. It’s annoying how a single man can ruin a perfectly good memory.
I think this is the situation in the larger picture too, a few perverts walking on the streets making it impossible for women to be by themselves. Sitting back at home for the fear of being harmed is mostly never the solution. I think the answer is to stop internalizing and accepting all the wrongs done and to speak up.