I am ashamed after reading this. But if not for an incident last year, I would have thought isn't all this a bit exaggerated?
Like any other woman, I lose my wits reading about the rapes and atrocities happening to women in my country. But then those feelings are short lived and I move on as if it’s something happening in some corner of the world which wouldn’t affect me. I sometimes wonder how the so called society be so wrong. It’s not only about India, but we find rapes and kidnapping of women happening all around the world. I confine my sympathies and those few minutes of agony to myself. I was selfish thinking I am safe and this will not happen to me.
But one day changed it all. Last year on my trip to India, I decided to head to Bangalore in an overnight bus. I have been travelling alone since I was 18. I have lived in three different countries and mostly did all the travel myself. So a 10 hour Bangalore trip was not a big deal. To my surprise I saw the bus was empty. Besides me there were just 4 men and 2 bus staff. I thought more people might board in the next major stops. I was a bit taken back when the bus cleaner announced to everyone that there is only one lady travelling in the bus. My heart started racing and started taking the occasional pushing from the ‘Uncle’ sitting behind me. Since I am a bit over imaginative, I told myself not to freak out and just concentrate on what I was reading. Then came the real freaky part. Whenever there was a romantic scene in the movie which was playing in the bus, I could feel more intense pushes on my seat. Then later I could actually feel some slimy thing on my back, I jolted and tried running my fingers in the seat to check what it was. It was not a cockroach or a rat, it was a human feet. I just couldn't believe it. I looked at that uncle in shock and words were not coming out. I thought he might just withdraw his legs or apologize. But nothing. He was staring at the TV. I wanted to yell at him. Wanted to shout at him! Twist his bloody head! But I just couldn't utter a word. I was a helpless girl there. I had to take a moment and think if such a yelling might put me in more danger. I even started imaging the other people in the bus might be even more evil than this man.
Till that day I believed, I was a smart and bold lady who could react to such situations. My mouth was dry, all I could do was change my seat to the next one and keep all the bags I had behind me so as to shield any such flesh hitting or poking me. My next fear was about the other 4 men in the bus. Will they do something to me in the bus? I checked my phone, it didn’t have range either. All I could do was not wait and keep praying! I realized how crippled I was in a situation like this. If I had stood up and complained to the driver, what is the guarantee he is a nice person?
I did not sleep at all. I got outside the bus and wanted to talk to this monster. Before I could give a piece of my mind, he just vanished in thin air. I was happy to see my cousin at the station. I didn’t know what to tell them. I could still feel those nasty fingers on my back. I still remember that man’s face. He would have been my father’s age. I wonder if he had a daughter my age. Will he let her go through such a situation? How would he have reacted? Is he a loving dad at home? What will his daughter feel if she ever comes to know about this? I keep thinking. I know most of us who live/ lived in India have much horrible stories to share. I don’t think I will have the guts to take an overnight bus in India again.