(Disclaimer: this post is intended mainly for those with a Y-chromosome, and those two little thingies hanging down there)
I was coming back this afternoon from Parrys Corner on a 7-F bus. Those who have travelled on this bus know that it travels through Vepery, Purasawalkam and then Kilpauk before finally arriving at Annanagar. The bus was a bit crowded right from the start and I was standing near the middle of the bus. As the bus passed through Kellys, it was school leaving time and a group of school girls from the Bains school had got in. As they were also pushed inside by the crowd they were standing near about where I was in the middle of the bus. And then, I happened to notice that two guys- with the typical vijay fan look…you know, the brightly colored t-shirt with a crumpled outer shirt and unkempt dirty hair types? They were standing behind those girls and one of them was pulling down a school girl’s skirt with little jerks, smirking at his friend all the time and the poor kid did not even notice what was going on.. (p.s. on a different note- nowadays the creeps are either attacking younger and younger kids or maybe I am growing older/mature- so these girls all look like kids to me now).
Anyhow I was kind of disturbed about how everyone else around pretended not to notice those two ruffians doing the abhorrent act quite brazenly, and still the girl was busily engrossed in conversation with not the smallest tinkling that her skirt was slipping down from her waist and people around watching eagerly…in times of tension my brain works pretty fast and as luck would also have it (and as I knew well) the bus took a sharp left turn suddenly and my hand which was holding onto the rod above slipped (with perfect timing) and my elbow made a perfect hit on the top of the head of one of them, me being around 5”10” and he at least a half foot shorter.
There was loud rrnnng..the reverberations could be felt in my arm and I am pretty sure that the guy would have seen not merely the stars but the entire milky way for the next couple of minutes. After about two minutes he recovered, and looked around while I maintained my best “I didn’t do it miss” patented look. He must have his eye on me for he leaned over to his friend and together whispered for a couple more minutes and then he asked in a plaintive voice “sir, why did you hit me?” (enn saar, edichinga?). I could have denied it of course, but the use of the sir told me that these guys had given up on any thought of confrontation…so I merely looked at him grimly and said “bus shaking/I falling/you moving front” and to my satisfaction the conductor joined me at the precise movement to shout “move front, move front”. So using that excuse I pushed them both with my body right up to the front of the bus, even up to the steps. I don’t know what they thought then but they both got down at the next bus stop itself and I heaved a sigh of relief.
The point I am making is there were so many other people around, both men and women, who were all watching what happened but not one of them raised his voice or tried to do something – to at least warn those girls and prevent something bad from happening. I understand that not everyone would want to get involved or get into a fight or anything- but at least giving a shout could have chased those cowards away. I am not especially brave or anything and if there had been more than two of them, I wouldn’t have tried the direct technique but maybe something else more subtle. But anyway in that entire crowd there was not one voice either to castigate them or warn the girls or even to support me (not that I needed any). Which makes me wonder where went all the real men with two steel thingies hanging there? And these are pretty much the same crowd would will, the next day over their morning cups of coffee- read about such incidents of harassment in the papers and go all righteous with anger and ask for strict punishments from the authorities. But on the spot? Uhmm!!!
Anyway this reminded me of another incident a couple of years ago, when I was driving down with my chief around nine in the night just past the Egmore railway station. We happened to notice an auto driver hitting his horn repeatedly and chasing behind after two foreign women- typical backpacker tourists with guide books in their hand- harassing them incessantly while driving slowly alongside them. My chief and I – we decided to give that auto driver a taste of his own medicine – and we took up position behind his horn and honking incessantly- we waved at him to get a move on. He stopped his auto- evidently angry at being disturbed at his entertainment- and came straight at out car. My chief and I both got down of the car to give him a piece of our mind. My chief, although nearly sixty years, but with a big body frame (bigger than even me) and a bigger moustache- looking more like a politician/policeman (than a doctor)- two people even auto drivers prefer not to tangle with, looked at him menacingly and authoritatively and the auto driver turned tail then and there and ran away. After a loud laugh we got into our car and went our way.
And I am still not sure whether things would have gone the same way if my chief was not there and I might have not have ended up trying to harass back the auto driver on my own. The point I am again and again trying to make is I am not extra brave or anything but am a normal man. What I feel is, when there is something bad going on which can be prevented by raising our voice it’s the least we can do- then and there, instead of browbeating about it next day online and expressing condemnations in letters to the editor. And I am not suggesting that you go out get a cape and a mask and then go about the streets protecting all the girls who are getting harassed. That’s not the point of this post. What is is.
Shout. Raise your voice. Shame someone. Save the male gender from being lumped all together with those creeps and pervs. And do it today and every day.