He first time I was eve-teased, I was barely 7 years old. I was riding my bike when a guy bumped into me accidently, at least that’s what I thought. He then jumped at me and tried putting his hand inside my top. I was startled. Not knowing how to react, I ran back home as fast as I could.
Being the youngest and most pampered in the family, I couldn’t grasp what and why it happened. I did not reveal the details to anyone as I didn’t want to tint the image of my childhood in front of my family. I wanted to be their little girl always. I didn’t want them to think that I was growing up and needed protection. The incident, however, scarred my mind.Naturally, I started hating my physical developments and didn’t want to look good stepping out of the house in unknown territories. Afraid of falling prey to another incident, I started to aggressively repel any idea of vacations or travel in public transport. A stare, a whistle, a pretentious casual touch, a humming number or lewd remarks, they all started to freak me out to no limits. I surely gave my parents a tough time. Thankfully, I went to a convent school, so it wasn’t tough staying away from men at school.
Fortunately, the scar did heal to an extent over time. The moment I started college, I learnt to deal with unwanted attention. I snapped, I shouted, I did everything I could from preventing lecherous men from viewing me as a victim. Even today when I hear of rapes, I cringe and I feel so helpless.When my daughter was born in 2011, I couldn’t have been happier but shortly I realized how protective I was for her around strangers or in unknown places. It made me restless and suddenly my untreated wound came alive with my worst fears. Even if she was out of my sight for a minute, my mind started racing to disturbing territories.However, an incident made me think. Recently I booked a cab to take my daughter to my parent’s place in Delhi. Being a jovial kid, my daughter was enjoying the cab ride and the driver was constantly looking back at her and trying to poke her. She was enjoying all the attention but I couldn’t say the same about myself. I was increasingly getting restless of the attention that my daughter was getting from the driver and I desperately wished for the journey to end. I tried convincing my girl to settle far away from the driver but she refused to budge. Feeling helpless, I snapped at her and demanded her to sit quietly with me. The driver gauged my concern and said, ” Madamji meri beti bhi apki beti jitni hai. Wo Gaon main rehti hai. Mujhe apki beti ko dekh kar apni gudiya ki yaad aa gayi (Madam, my daughter is the same age as your daughter. She stays back in my village and your daughter reminded me of her).” It left me speechless and I smiled back. When we reached the destination, I made her shake his hand and I said a small prayer: “Hope my daughter doesn’t ever have to suspect a stranger or be subjected to any guy’s disrespect. Amen.”
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