I have finally escaped It.
There’s nothing to be said for it than the fact that I feel utterly, butterly happy. It has been about 10 months that I have shifted to the small island of Britain with my sweetheart and husband. And for the last 10 months not for a single moment have I felt any kind of inhibition. It is such a strange and yet liberating feeling coming from India where almost everything is watched. When you come home from work, the kind of people who drop you back home after a party, the kind of clothes you wear, till what time it is that you sleep on Sundays…yes, I felt judged on everything. And, watched.
When I was a teenager, my mind goes back to certain things my mother would always try to ingrain into me. “Do not wear skimpy clothes”, “Why are you wearing such a short skirt?” to “Too much bare arms and legs” and “Isn’t the tunic a bit too figure hugging?” Then again, when I was stepping out, from maternal concern, she would warn me that if I did face any kind of harassment from strange men, the trick lay in making a quick getaway sans confrontation. “You never know how men get back when you try and confront them. So often you hear about women who end up as victims of acid attack,” ma would point out. I was always, therefore, a timid creature in Calcutta till I reached Delhi. There I realized how I had to fight back but a little cautiously since I did get slapped by a guy in the Metro station in the full view of the public, when I slapped him for molesting me. No one that day came forward to my help.
There have been so many incidents in the decade that I have spent in Delhi. Every day that I reached my little pad in Jangpura, I would mentally pat myself on the back. It was always this feeling of having survived another day without having something terrible happen to me - a curious kind of battle. Reading the newspapers every day about rapes and women-hate crimes almost every day in some corner of our city and country makes me sick.
The leap to this freedom that I am experiencing is precious. There is no one to keep a watch on me. The nosy shop keeper opposite door, the inquisitive landlady, the vegetable seller. There is no one to whisper offensive words as they pass me by or try and molest me. Sometimes I wonder when we, the women of India, shall feel thus in our own homeland. Will there ever be such a time?