It’s true, #metoo
I hadn’t thought about writing this down but then what’s truth is truth. And since when non-acceptance became the truth?
On my Facebook timeline this month, many of my friends and connections shared their #metoo stories. All were scary and disturbing. One more than the other. I read them all but did not react or comment. Not on a single one. I did not want to because what I share are things I talk about on an everyday basis. I write about my experiences and my happy moments. Travel tales and pictures, food and things I reflect upon. Stories and lessons from my life till date. But talking about something that happened to me and I never shared with anyone till date is not normal.
At least for me.
So I stayed quiet.
But then I thought why not? #metoo is the truth and there is no shame in the truth being out.
I was 32 and heading back home from office with a colleague. I prefer to reach home before it’s dark but that day she was with me so I wasn’t afraid. As we left, she got a call and had to change her route. “It’s okay. I will take an auto”, I said and we parted ways. The guy deviated from the route I knew. For 15 mins, he drove in dark and what seemed like a highway. Not knowing the directions, I was so scared that I could not even call VT. At that time, Google Maps weren’t popular. I was hoping and praying that this was another short cut to beat traffic. Hearing the heart beat in the ears isn’t a very comfortable feeling.
After 15 mins of that scare and not knowing what will happen next, I saw other cars. I am still wary of coming back home from my office on my own. Every time a cab driver takes a different turn, I get uncomfortable.
I was 24 and had recently moved to Bangalore. It was night and after dinner, my friend and I were walking to our paying guest accommodation. We were chatting and I was outside on the road when we spotted a guy cycling on the wrong side of the road. We were alert and knew he could lose control but did not anticipate what he could do. As he rode closer, he grabbed my dupatta and luckily could not grope. He fled and I froze with shock. My friend shouted and threw a stone but by then he had left.
I couldn’t sleep very well that night.
I was 24. I stayed in a garage turned into a room in Noida with a friend and used to take a rickshaw back home. By the time I used to reach home, it would be late evening. Summers were good but in winters, it used to be dark around 5 pm. People would be indoors enjoying the warmth of a heater or a blower.
That evening, a rickshaw guy dropped me home around 7 pm. He must have seen me unlocking the gate, then the door and switching the lights on. I went inside and kept on with my chores when I heard a slight knock on the gate. I peeped outside to see that guy was still there. Looking in the direction of the house. I knew it was not right. I called my friend who was still at work and told her. By now, I was not able to focus on anything. Knowing that someone is out there and not for right reasons was scary enough. She reached at around 9 pm and the guy hadn’t left. She came in, we locked and switched off the lights. We stood at the main door contemplating to call our land lord who was an ex army official. An hour later, he left.
We skipped dinner that night and slept in hope for a safer day.
I was 22 and visiting Kanpur during one of my Engineering semester breaks. My friend and I had decided to study together. First half of the break in Azamgarh and the second half in Kanpur. We were on the way to a temple in a shared auto-rickshaw. Half way on the journey, I felt a hand moving up on my back. I realized, moved forward, the auto stopped and the guy left. Within seconds of me even understanding what just happened.
I don’t think I remember what JK Temple looked liked.
I was 17 and out for shopping some notebooks in my hometown. My Mum was with me. She went in a lane first and I followed. A guy inched closer and said, “Aaj hum aur tum shaadi kar rahe hai.” (You and I are getting married today). I did not know what he meant but it was weird. It sounded odd and why would someone say that to a girl?
I can’t forget that statement and today I know what he meant.
I was 13 and travelling to Mumbai on a summer break with my parents and younger brother. It was a long train journey. I was on the middle berth and Mum was in the lower one. There was a guy on the upper berth. When the lights went off, he started staring and looking at my berth the entire night. For those two nights in the train, I couldn’t sleep.
The incident has stayed and I prefer flying over taking a train. The journey is short and I don’t have to sleep.
I haven’t forgotten these incidents. They exist in some far away corners of my memories and are never brought out, shared or discussed. And what’s the point in sharing? What will change for me?
We are a country where we hide menstruation from our fathers and brothers. We shy away from talking about sex education and asking for condoms at a medical store. Live-in relationships are still under the scanner and it’s not easy for single men or women to rent an apartment.
But that’s not my point. I am also not challenging the magnanimity of #metoo.
We all know the problem. What’s important is until when will we keep talking about #metoo? When will we stop defending it by saying #notallmen? Will we reach a stage when #metoo would be a thing of the past and #notme would take over?
If yes, when?
If no, why not?
Writing for Day 9 of Write Tribe Problogger Challenge.