By Aishwarya Dongre
I am 18, and I travel 30 kilometres one way to college. I am the ordinary girl with the zeal to lead the ordinary life, without being touched and felt up every time I travel by the bus or train. I walk down the platform stairways to have the man behind me brush past my bottom. I stand on the bus with the filthy one thrusting himself upon me. He doesn’t spare the old aunt who is sitting on the senior citizen’s seat on the bus. He doesn’t refrain from singing a vulgar song and smirking. No, he does not keep his hands to himself.
I live in a democratic country, in a city as posh as Mumbai. Until I was 10, my mom would discuss how girls at night were safe within the wraps of this city. Today, broad daylight ensures molestation within this “safe city”. My parents won’t allow me to travel alone at night; they won’t even trust my guy friends to drop me off after a party. They continuously monitor my clothes, not because we are a conservative Indian family, but because they don’t want me to “ask for it.”
I might scream at that man who feels me up, even if I am his granddaughter’s age. I tell the conductor to look into my eyes, not my chest, to talk. But my parents and society fear the worst with regard to me. They feel those men whom I speak against will track me down and might throw acid at me. Their worries are justified.
No, I will not blame the government. Nor will I blame the police, and make ridiculous remarks like, “We need police patrolling every corner of every city.” I express shame at the lowly and perverted acts and thoughts of the men of this nation. I wear a skirt, a short dress or a damn sleeveless top. I wear it for the pure joy of being feminine, not to seek attention or lewd remarks. No, I do not regret being an Indian. No, I will not hate Delhi or Mumbai. I regret belonging to a society in which women are just objects to play around with and provide sexual satisfaction. I grieve. Deeply.
Aishwarya Dongre lives in Mumbai, India.