“You never know how strong you are till being strong is the only option you have.”
Being a woman comes with many challenges, and tolerating misbehavior, eve-teasing and molestation should not be one of them. Assault – physical or otherwise can scar a woman for life.
However, Forum Gandhi, a young Mumbaikar decided not to succumb to fear. She decided to fight back. This is her story!
Holi is a festival that I dearly celebrate each year, however, last year it wasn’t worth celebrating. sixth March 2015 turned out to become a nightmare for me, which I’d always want to forget but will always remember.It was 12:30 am when I was walking my tripod puppy inside my own barricaded balcony located on the ground floor. Opposite to my building sat one drunk man on his bike with two other guys standing beside him in the parking area.I realized he was drunk hence, I paid attention to my work and go inside my house ASAP. I heard a few slangs in Marathi from there, I looked up and realized that he was looking at me. This went on for a few minutes while I continued doing my work. I looked once more by then both the other guys had walked away in opposite directions. I continued again hoping it would end. I felt someone staring at me, and realized he was still abusing, by now he was waving his hands gesturing towards me saying, “your mother knows me, I live in the lane.” I ignored, he continued. “I don’t know if you know me or not but I live here.” I responded politely, “Have I called you or disturbed you? I am walking my dog very patiently, I request you continue doing what you are and do not disturb me.” “Is this your father’s lane? You don’t know who I am, ask your mother!” he roared. I said, “I shall call my mother and you can talk to her because I am sincerely not interested in any kind of conversations with you.”By the time I called my mother he went and sat on the staircases with his friends. From there I heard someone howling on top of his voice, “these bloody Gujaratis ought to be taught a lesson! who the hell do they think they are? Is this their father’s property? First his father doesn’t live with them and then who the hell are they to live here.” Now, for whatsoever reasons, my mother has been a single parent for the past 17 years and we have been living here in this property/ building (of which we have always been landlords) from almost 18 years now.
After listening to a lot of things against my family, it got a little out of hands. While my mother went to change inside, my sister and I went to tell them to keep it low as it was too late and people were coming out and listening which was insulting.
I had already told my sister to call the police, merely two minutes into the conversation, I got slapped on my left cheek very hard, in the panic my sister and I reciprocated. He pushed my sister three staircases below and hit her too, in all of this, we both got bruises while he ran away with other four people with a torn t-shirt and a broken gold chain. Unfortunately, my mother arrived after they left.
Nobody and I repeat nobody came down to help us except a friend who came down to inform us about the CCTV luckily, recording this whole incident. In no time, she too was taken up by her father. The cops arrived a few moments after they left.We all headed to the police station with them. After lodging and FIR before dawn, all of them were under arrest and before the next midnightthey were out on bail. Even after several threats, we did not take the case back and today, we’re still fighting against it.For many of you’ll (like many others) who will wonder, ‘What was she doing out so late?’, ‘What was the need to respond?’, ‘Why did they go there?’, ‘Why did they reciprocate?’. The only answer to that I can give is, I am a girl living with two other women in my house alone without a ‘man’, bearing these insults for years and then I have learned to stand up for myself and I am proud of it. If I was living with my father, would anyone have dared to go out and say anything like this? So what is I am a girl? I was in my own barricaded property and I swear, I did not invite this. If people ask me why did you go there? I’d like to ask people this one thing. Why don’t we complain against goons sitting in public and consuming alcohol and drugs? Why do we always shun of girls and order them to go back in their closets?For days together, I asked myself these questions like what if they would have broken the bottle on your head or should I take the complaint back? But the one thing I am proud about today is, I stood up for myself, I didn’t need a man to protect me.