I wonder why they do it.
Why all eyes are on me
Wherever I go.
Silently they scrutinize each thread of cloth on me.
While their grins, snorts and looks shout out their unsolicited opinions.
Hands and elbows brush my body
As if searching for a treasure within me.
With discomfort I shift,
Only to please the culprit,
Who, it seems, seeked nought but the satisfaction of my uneasiness.
Defeated, I moved on like a statue,
Awaiting, restlessly my destination
The second’s hand of my watch, it seems, intended to copy the minute.
And the minutes refused to budge.
When will this journey end?
Every bus trip of mine has been as difficult. I am transported to a philosophical world. One where I try endlessly to give reason to this sick human psychology.
I fail to elicit these perverse actions. Doesn’t even one of them have a mother or a sister who faces the same music?
How foolish of me to ask that! I live in a patriarchal society where even if such things would happen to her, the female dare not speak up. But what if she did?
I guess it’d fall into deaf ears. Sometimes I get so depressed thinking about all this that I take this anger out on my lover, my brother and my father. Why not? After all it isn’t that difficult to replace my face with that of another girl and print their faces on that of those rascals.
Till, one day, I bumped into that guy or rather he bumped into me. There I was, sitting on the wobbly seat of that bus, lost in my own world. When suddenly, an elbow brushed the top of my skull. Anger seethed through my eyes, rushing to occupy the air between me and him. I used this weapon quite frequently nowadays and there were none that survived it. I expected that guy to show remorse, guilt, embarrassment; like the others. So I was confused when I got a sweet sorry and a naturally innocent look.
Things now appeared differently. It seems he was reaching for his wallet in the back-pocket while hanging onto support with the other while the driver drove on as if death itself was chasing him. This is when his elbow had brushed my head, when he was off-balance.
I felt like I was a child scolding the teacher for trying to cheat from my paper while she was looking over my shoulder during an exam. She laughed out and I realised that maybe she wasn’t cheating, maybe she was just checking whether Id written my name or not.
I stole another look of the guy’s face in search of the Satan, I was disappointed to find a nonchalant Catholic instead.
To disrupt my train of thought, there was another touch; this time someone pulling at my hair. I turned around with the same expression. This time more anger. I was sure any man with a sense of shame and fear would cower, maybe even run for his life. Behold! It was the same guy. This time tying all he could to prove his innocence. Once might be co-incidence. Twice, had to be intended.
Yet when I searched his face again for those known feelings and expressions, I met the alien of innocence. He was sorry. I saw it in his eyes, in his body language. Even he knew he had to prove himself because it was the second time. His eyes pleaded me. He wanted to explain how he had just sit down behind me and while doing that some of my unkempt hair lying on the headrest got stuck beneath his hands which he had kept for supporting himself as the bus driver continued his race with death. He wanted to scream out-“I am not the criminal you think I am!!”
At that instant I had shown no mercy. But now, with hindsight, I wanted to scream out-“Sorry!!”.
It’s just that I had got so habituated to the chain of incidents which always lead to the man being guilty that I half wanted him to be guilty. To know that I was right, to show that I what I did had a reason.
I picture that guy’s guilty face; now scared of the mishap ever repeating. I think about him hesitating to sit next to another girl or to approach one. Maybe avoiding physical contact with his mother, sister r beloved just because a stranger had given his innocence the death sentence.
If ever I meet him again I picture me saying “Sorry”, explaining my state of mind, my pain, my daily experiences, everything. And him, he will nod his head ,like a friend who has known you long enough while you ask for forgiveness for hurting him, and say-“It’s okay, I understand.”
I hope all this perverted stuff stops soon otherwise no girl will feel safe with any guy around her and no innocent guy will ever approach a girl. With time, like every middle class-born Indian girl, I’ve learnt to wear the mask of ignorance. Hope the alien of innocence infiltrates this inhumane earth.
I’ve reached my destination.