Another post on the Blank Noise Project that’s making its waves in blogworld. I am late, but it doesn’t matter coz it got me thinking, actually brought back unpleasant memories. Little snippets of conversation, images of lewd faces, the whispers that accompany them, foreign hands creeping down a back.
A few incidents that floated up…
Anita was 8. She spends her summers at her maternal grandparents place. Oldest grandchild of the family, and she was given all the attention possible. Loved her uncles, and aunts as they were young and could entertain her by taking her out. One summer hot afternoon nothing to do – so she wanders into a room where her uncle was lying down. She found a book, and decided to sit there and read. Uncle insited she sleep too coz it was hot, and she needed the rest. Under the covers after a few minutes of casual talking, uncle holds her hand and guides her -she feels something warm – instinctively, she recoils and pushes him away and runs out. Finds her little brother and plays with him, the past of a few minutes filed away for future protection.
Bharati was 10. She lived in a huge apartment complex. Lots of kids, all played together and it was a fun place. Summer holidays and the moms took naps, while the dads were at work, the kids were left to the mercy of finidng their own means of killing time. and so they played silly games, ate peanuts and told each other dumb stories. Bharti wanted to use the bathroom and went onto the common one down the corridor. As she opened the slightly open door, she saw her neighbor squatting on it, in full display. He tries to hold her hand and drag her in, she wrings and runs back home to use their own.
Chandra was 11. She usually rode the PTC bus up and down to school. She was quite tall and was beginning to develop. School uniform was a skirt and shirt with shoes. There was always a ladies special bus that came and she rode that every morning. That day she ran late coz she woke up late and all her friends at teh bus stop had left in the special. She had to wait for another regular one to take her to school. It came, and she managed to elbow herself past a few men and women, and she barely made it on teh steps, when the bus moved. She was on the middle one, and was stuck behind a hefty burly woman whose bag was pushing onto Chandra’s face. 2 minutes on teh road and she feels a pressure on her back. She cannot turn her face around, but could feel heavy breathing on her ears, and the more she moved, the more the pressure. She suffered the next 5 minutes till the next stop when she got off the bus and walked to school. Her principal was very angry she was 15 mts late to school, her excuse was she got up late.
Devi was 14. She and her best friend were in the school yard for PE. After the initial drills, they had time off. So each did whatever they wanted and these two settled beside a fence that separates the grounds from the road to exit the school. It was close to 2, a whole hour after lunch was over. Her friend was telling her about the pretty dress her dad bought for her from Singapore. The place was quiet. They hear a voice ” enna maa kannu – variya, polam” They turn around and flinch. A servant – lunch guy who brings in lunch for the rich people’s kids – was standing next to his cycle, shaking his thing. They both get up and run to join other girls. They turn around and he isn’t there anymore.
Elisabeth was 15. She had gone to work on a group project at a friends. She called her mom to come pick her up but mom’s car had broken down, and so she was forced to take the bus. Mom felt bus was safer than an auto. It was Sunday evening, and the roads were deserted. Everyone watching the movie. As she stood in the evening light – there was just one other old lady – quite frail. She asked Elisa to please read the bus numbers as she could’nt see that well. Elisa nodded her head and stood a few feet away. An ambassador car crusies slowly past her. She wouldn’t have noticed if it weren’t for the fact that it was coming almost directly at her. She took a step back. The windows rolled down and 2 men were peeping out. Smiling and pointing at her. Elisa held onto her bag tighter. The car passed her and stopped and reversed to where she stood. One guy got out and came up to her and asked “evolo?” [how much?]. Elisa didn’t understand but she knew it wasn’t right, and she took few steps away. The guy grabs her hand, and starts dragging her to the car – she screams and starts kicking. The other guy also gets out and holds her other hand. The old lady just a few steps behind is shouting”ada pavingala [u idiots] rasathi ey vidungada [leave the girl alone]” – with all her might she gets up and scoops sand and throws it towards them. Elisa manages to free herself and the guys change their mind, get into the car and drive off. Elisa huddles another 10 minutes in tears till a bus takes her home.
Fatima is 18 and in college. She and her family were taking a trip to Trichy. She took her book and got into her middle berth. She dozed off shortly. In the middle of the night, she woke up as she felt a draft. Noticed her blanket had slipped off – she was surpised, but she covered herself and went back to sleep. Again, she woke up, this time, she felt something crawl up her legs and thighs. she wakes up with a start to notice a man standing rt next to her. The moment he sees her up, he runs away. She doesn’t understand what happened, thought he was a chain snatcher and checked tos ee if she had her anklets and chain still on. Satisfied she goes back to sleep.
She wakes again, seeing a man close her mouth tightly with one hand while he fondled her breasts over her blouse. She starts to panic, and starts kicking, but she feels another pair of hands hold her down. As she fights, the 1st man tries to lift her skirt up…. Lights go on next block, and the men vanish quickly.
Gowri is 20. She visits her mother’s maternal uncle’s place. The place is small so she, her sister decide to sleep on the floor next to the kitchen. In the middle of the might she wakes up to hear “can I come closer” in hushed whispers from beyond where her sister slept. The grand-uncle had his hand over her waist and was inching his way up. She cannot imagine this guy’s audacity and lewdness. His wife and daughter slept 10 feet away. Her mother – his niece – slept just outside the door. In her shock, the only think she kenw to do was to get up and go wake her mother up and ask to sleep next to her. The mother knew what happened right away, it was 4 am. she switched on all the lights, woke her other daughter up, got dressed and left at 5.30 to catch the 6.30 bus to the next town.
Hema is 24. She was working in an established institution. Her “advisor” was 30 and apparently he hated his wife. Everyday he would fill her ears with how she neglected him and didn’t love him. A sympathetic ear is all she could give him. He looked cute, but he was married and that meant – hands-off. One evening as she and a friend ate at the cafetaria he joined them. The friend got called off, and so they were alone to finsih up. He invited her over for a quick ‘will show u something that came up” and while in the room, he held her. She recoiled and asked him what he was doing. He told her he was in love and insisted she was too. When she got a little vehement and strong, he told her to just go along or he’d make sure her research wouldn’t be approved, and he’d make her life hell. She quit. Not a smart thing to do but she wasn’t selling her dignity either.
Indra is 32. She is standing with her husband and children in the railway station waiting for their train to come. She notices three men in their late 30’s-40 – decently dressed, smoking, and most definitely eyeing her and having a conversation. Her husband and kids leave to go get a drink and some snacks for the trip. she stands next to the luggage waiting. The three make a move. one of them comes very close and looks at her straight in the eye ” you look sexy, want to have some fun, we are in S3 – 58,59,60. The train’s empty, and we will give you a good time”
She wanted to scream and give him a tight slap, but that would just be creating a scene. She turns her head away, and he walks off. The whole trip, she didn’t sleep, held tightly onto her husband’s hand on one side and hugged her daughter while she slept.