Tuesday, March 07, 2006

My story---Blank Noise Project



As a policy, I usually stay away from writing extremely personal stuff in my blog. However, today I make an exception. For the first time ever, I am penning down extremely personal thoughts regarding sexual harrasment at streetplaces. Yup, it includes an harrowing experience that I went through. Trust me, it still seems weird. I never thought I could do it i.e. share my experience eith anyone. However when I read about BlankNoiseProject, I convinced myself that I will write about it. Well, it wouldn't just be a social commentary, but also sharing an experience that almost scarred me. I don't want any sympathy. I am writing it because for me, this is an opportunity to come out and accept what happened to me. I am writing for myself.

I still remember the day. It was a republic day and I was in 9th standard. I was all set to go to my school for the republic day parade and to attend other celebrations. I was on my way to school with one friend who happened to be a year senior to me. we were both walking and suddenly a man walking to my left suddenly came from nowhere and cooly groped me and left. I stood there rooted at the spot unable to comprehend what had just happened to me. I kept wondering what to do since I could see that bastard walking down coolly as if nothing happened. Finally I screamed, "Pakdo....usko....catch hold of him." However once I screamed, that coward ran away. I couldn't control anymore and burst crying. The friend who was along with me couldn't understand what was happening. She thought that it was a thief who stole something. I told her what happened. I don't know how I did that, but well, she got the drift. We were just a minute away from school and an autowallah came by and seeing me cry asked me what happened. Both of us stood there staring at him blankly wondering what o tell him. I think, he got the drift and asked us to hop into his rickshaw and dropped us in the school.

I went to our school ground. I couldn't bear to see anyone. Guilt and shame engulfed me. I didn't go to the place wherein my class students were standing, I did not want to go anywhere near them. Usually on the Republic day, students from all the students come to attend the parade simultaneously, it's huge ground. I stood with the primary section children, at the fag end of the line. I stood there like a statue unable to still stomach what had happened to me. All the two hours that i was in school, I had my head down. I couldn't bear to look above. I tried to control the tears which came rushing.....however I was sucessful only to a certain extent. I wanted to cry, cry loudly and badly. i was embarrased, embarrased to the core. A feeling of revulsion overtook me, i couldn't face myself.

Finally it was time to go home. I somehow went home. I rang the bell and appa opened the door. I entered the house and then the volcano burst. I just burst crying, I couldn't control anymore. i somehow managed to control myself in school. My parents were confused, they didn't know what happened to me. I told them. Both Amma and appa just looked at me helplessly. I howled, I did not know what else to do. I was all of 13. I was consoled. Later I was told, "Don't tell this to anyone haan beta." I heard it and kept quiet. I tried not to think of it and yea not to tell anyone about it.

Days passed by, but the memories did not. It still haunted me. The groping....it hurt. The physical hurt had gone but the mental scars remained. I felt guilty and ashamed. yea...I did, for no fucking fault of mine. I couldn't even talk to that friend who was with me that day. I would just change my route if I find her walking in the same road. i would run away from seeing her since I felt ashamed, she reminded me about that incident which i was desperately trying to forget. From then on, whenever I would be late at home, amma and appa would always fret. "Look, don't be late, remember what happened that day na?" I would listen and nod, blankly, totally understanding. I know they are concerned. But I don't know why it functions the way it is. I HATE IT. I am not allowed to go out late because men will letch at me, or there is a danger of molestation. WHY? WHY? WHY? Why do I live in such a world dominated by men wherein WOMEN HAVE TO ADJUST TO THEIR MISDEEDS? I still don't have an answer. I have to conform many a times that's practical. But I still wonder.

Years passed on. I was in FYJC {11th std} I was talking to one of my buddies. She told me how she was also molested in a similar manner. I was shocked. I was shocked that it happened to others too. Till that time, i hadn't spoken to anybody about it. I wonder why....That incident had scarred me so much that I refused to talk about it. I kept mum and acted as if nothing happened. Anyways, when I heard it, I was amazed as to how my friend was narrating it to me without any guilt and shame in an absolutely matter-of-fact way. Somehow that was a threaupatic experience. I realised that I wasn't the sole victim at all.

From then on, I was more alert and I became more assertive. I would scream loudly if someone brushed aside me. I have beaten up guys who have tried to act fresh. If I find someone staring, I simply go and ask them, "Kya hain? Kya dekh raha hain? kaam dhanda nahi hain kya?" {What? what are you looking at? No work or what? } Most of the times they chicken out. A cold hard stare back most of the times works. Never let them stare at you. Stare back and hard and mutter abuses.

Just two days ago, I was getting home at 12 in the night. I was alighting from the rickshaw when a qualis went past me with hooligans hooting. i stood there and abused them in the most filthy language. I stood there till they disappeared from my eyesight. The autowallah stood there and told me, "jaane do, madam." I was so angry. I looked at him and said, "Jaane kaise doon? Aise logon ko gaali dena chahiye, nahi toh aise karte rahenge." {Leave it ma'am. } {How can I simply let go? we have to abuse such people, otherwise they will keep doing it.} I wanted the hooligans to know that they can't always get away with doing everything. And that not all the girls will simply put their head down and walk away when you eve tease. But I also wonder that iw as able to do this since it was my area, my locality. The familiarity helps since if anything happens, you know people will just come to help even at midnight. I wondered if I would have been able to do the same in an unknown place. I would have probably put my head down and walked off. I cringed at the very thought. I hated myself for that. But well, that's the reality.

But what am I doing to protect myself? Well, I am thinking to join a self-defence classes. I have to learn the techniques. Coz no one else is gonna help me especially when I need the most. Self-defence techniques should be introduced in schools. It's surprisingly, rather than empowering the girls, it's their freedom that is always restricted. Che....

Even today, society views a woman who has undergone molestation, rape etc with shame. I mean, nothing is done to remove the shameful feeling. I remember a case when a group of parents had written to the school complaining about a teacher misbehaving with the girl students. The school surprisingly did not do anything. Frustrated, they gave the same complaint letter to the police. The police asked them to file a polcie complaint. THEY REFUSED. I was shocked. They told me that they did not want to file a polcie complaint since they did not want to spoil their daughters' future. "Their names and all will come in the polcie complaint. We will have to explain in details as to what happened. Many of them would have to be married in another 5 years. It would prove difficult then." WHAT THE FUCK....I wondered. But well, that's what happened. Did you see, that the victim is made to feel shameful. Even though, the family is with the victim, they never empower her to take a bold step. I understand it would be difficult. However, the step needs to be taken. Whilst doing this, the victimiser walks freely while the victim is made to feel guilty and ashamed. Weird na? I wonder what message are the parents sending to their girls? "Too bad that something like this happened. However you are not telling anyone about this coz what happened was shameful even though it wasn't your fault." ha.....bloody society. Bloody patriacrchy. I just wish the parents instill the confidence in child that despite the lack of support, one should be brave enough coz simply, it isn't you fault, child. Please, that's the best thing you can give your girl.

Despite all this, I still have to come to terms with the first experience I had. This is the first time I am writing about it. First time, i am letting even my friends know about it. Enough is enough. We girls don't ask for it. No one likes to be molested. Also we also value our freedom. Freedom to be ourselves. Unfortunately it's a battle to be fought and fight we will since enough is enough.

However, all said and done, Blank Noise project could also have men down their experiences of sexual harassment. Well, as we all know, even men aren't spared.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

i hope every woman becomes bold like you

Truman said...

I am glad you wrote this. I think it is a very bold step, writing it down here. If even one girl is inspired by reading this, remember, you have been successful.

poorva said...

Well Truman u can be glad cuz I am inspired totally. It is a very gud thing u wrote about your experience. I was reminded of mine. It was almost a year back but i got over it cuz of a friend who taught me to punch guys and always carry pins an chillin powder. Trust me, it works!

Kudos to u!!

Pravin said...

Sometimes I wake up dizzy, and sometimes, I let him sleep.

Santosh said...

It takes lots of guts to write such things...bravo!!! I'll share a personal experience....recently I had been to a very famous ALL-GIRLS college in Chennai for doing a survey for my project. As I walked to the admin. block, I was getting a little jittery as I was the only guy practically in middle of over 1000 girls. My confidence went for a toss. A few girls giving a look as if an alien had landed in their campus...now I can empathise with all the girls and what harrowing experience they go through every day with all those sadak-chhap sexually frustrated romeos sniffing around.

Jasmeen said...

wish you strength

speaK OUT LOUD!

Atlas said...

Post has left me speechless and thinking "Aisa bhi hota hai?" ...Never expected..well written...:)

Anonymous said...

Well thats very true that those female who have gone through such experiences recount the same very rarely because of fear , embarrassment or discouraging reactions from peer group or the parents.This is something that needs to be curbed.A bold act by some females can change the situation...a society that is not ruled by males...a healthy and peaceful enviroment for the fair sex.

reiya said...

this issue is very serious issue n ppl shud understand that girls are the victims here and why shud we be ashamed? its the perpetrators who shud be bashed up. and ya its a good idea to keep some pepper spray or sumthing. it happens to most girls and instead of being told to keep quiet girls shud be encouraged to fight back. No one deserves such treatment.

wormtongue said...

hmm i think that the right way to go about it. to be agressive as you did with those assholes in the car. every pervert is weakling.. and if a girl decides to NOT give in to such people and put up even a little fight. they will back off ( or so ive heard).. it makes sense too.. well written, although it does sound typically krantikari :P >:D< buhahah... gheun taak ammales ;)

Shitrint said...

well, shobha,
i kno its really difficult to get over incidents like this. i hav had a very tough time coming to terms with wen i was molested at the age of 5...i used to keep harping on it, feel guilt, feel shame, and the very sight of any man told me to be aware; and all my mind went through was feelings of getting him castrated!! i kno it sounds very extreme and you may not even publish my comment, but this is the truth especially wen i could tell no one, not even my parents! this was the most extreme incident and i hav been 'touched' in public places after that in presence of my mother...(of course the coward left me stunned & got away soon enough for me to react and hit back!)
hell! no one protects you. u hav to protect yourself and wat you did-hurl abuses at those hooligans was the right thing...
and this happens everyday- in the bus, in the train, walking amongst the crowds on the streets...just about everywhere!
people just need to stand up and help the ones who go thru such kind of a trauma and not attach a feeling shame for no fault of theirs!

vilakudy said...

I agree with your views completley. And I can understand the agony you must have gone through. You can abuse them; but when you write a blog -it is no longer personal- you should "calm-down'' the language. That is very important.

Vidya said...

All I can say is that I agree with you. I hope sharing it with everyone made you feel better!!

Anonymous said...

If it makes you feel any better, i came across some info that some wardboys and staff in hospital morgues (very famous and some infamous ones in Mumbai)have sex with dead bodies...including men. The management knows this and are naturally hush hush about it. Do some digging, since youre a journo (like me) and you will know the truth. So in a nutshull, no matter how rich, what sex, what age you are, you will be molested in death!

iamit said...

I cant believe this .......... I have an exam tomrw and i actually read thru all of it!! BTW ... loooong post. Getting to the point ..... Lecherous behaviour towards anyone obviously leads to mental disturbance .... especially in children. ultimately the ones who let such behaviour pass and just shrug at it, only lead the "criminals" to assume its alrite to indulge. people esp women need to learn not only how to defend themselves but to incapacitate the perpetrator if neccessary.

Garima said...

hello,
first time on your blog.. its really touchy.
but wat all i can say is dont loose your strength cz u'll need it more much much more further in your life.

Anonymous said...

how it reverberates my actual thots in exact and better words.

"the kya prob hai"dialouge really works!! hmm..somehow am glad i had my sis beside me when a similar incident occured, the first time ever, and i was as stunned speechless as you. however,with my sis it was easier to tackle.and with time, i could ask my frends not to react in an expression of "selfshame"when anything similar happens.


expecting more n more such posts frm you, cuz there are such personal issues tht ppl can relate so much to and yes discuss openly about becuz of the actual relevance tht these have on humsabka day to day life.
u go gurl!

-shonu(titzbitz)

Jitu said...

May the Lord give you all (women folk) strength for we as human beings to see a better tommorow.

This article has reminded me that I am also a father of girl child.

jeeetwoo@yahoo.co.in

Gladtomeetin said...

Its sooo nice of you to have boldy brought this topic...

Wish many gets inspired by your post n act boldy to stop such non-sense happening.....

Wish you good luck dear :-))

Nike said...

I hope its ok if i liked you?
All the best.
Nikhilesh

Nike said...

I meant "LiNked" you ...typ error ..seriously..

visithra said...

Sad isnt it we're told to come back early for what someone did to us that was not our fault? - i pray that we are parents we dont do the same

Shobha said...

Anon: Oh well....well.er... ok...hehe

Truman: As I said, I wrote for myself. However if it does make a difference, I am glad...

Poorva: Thanks girl..

Pravin: Poda

Santosh: ha...we go through it everyday...

Jasmeen: Hey...speak out aloud we will...

Shobha said...

Atlas: Aisa hi hota hain dude...aisa hi hota hain...

Anon: Bold reactions by woman are the need of the day...

reiya: Haven't tried pepper spray....hrd a lot abt it tho..

Andy: yup, every pervert is a weakling....u said it...

Shitrint: Oh goodnes...molested at the age of 5? Shit man...hugs....

Vilakudy: Yup, point taken anna :D ;}

Vidya: Yup, it has...

Anon: I think it has been reported earlier. Midday did an expose...

Shobha said...

Amit: All da best for exams...Yup, we need to learn how to defend ourselves.

Garima: Welcome...

Jitu: I am glad you remembered your daughter whilst reading the post...I really am...

Gladtomeeting: Hey...thanks..

Nikhilesh: LOLOLOL....:p of course u can link me...ehhhee

Visithra: true ya....seriously...

perspective said...

shobha... you've had one such experience and it has moved you so much?
since i was 11 i was molested and sexually abused. By strangers groping at me, showing off their penis,my own friends groping at me,talkign to me dirty, uncles, brothers all using me wanting to have sex with me... and yes i didnt know what was happening for a long time, only i knew it didnt feel alright.
I dont believe fear is the way to freedom from all this.

After years when a close friend decided to take advantage of the fact that he and me were alone in a lonely place in his car, i knew i had to learn to say no. I had to learn to simply be firm. And i did.
But i still go out late in the night, i still return home very late, i still hang out with friends and i still am learning to say no.

The first thing i had to learn actually was to love my body... and yes... its been a learning quite long.

But no single individual is to blame, you cant blame the entire race of the man either. Its inculcated so deep in our culture that this entire attitude of disrespect towards women has to be uprooted from its roots. that's the only way it'll disappear.

Shobha said...

Perspective: Well, I have just written about the *first* experience that I have faced, an experience which scarred me as a child. Also, I think, it takes one single experience for a child to get traumatised. It's not about numbers...I feel :)

Rahima said...

hi shobha,
this is Rahima, who you met at the event on Saturday,
just read this and was deeply moved.
thanks for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I do empathise with you after reading your blog. However, I am aghast at the language that you use.. I know your frustration, but letting it out in such steamy language is not in the right spirits.. coming as it is from a journalist.

--Cheers,

Cheri