With monsoon around the corner and cool inviting breeze surrounding us, Old man and I decided to walk. "Rick or walk?" , he had asked me and without thinking I replied, "Walk". I turned around immediately and said," It is okay if you want to go by the rick, we can walk someday later." He gestured that it is fine and we started walking.
The topic on the plate was 'Grad colleges'. Being the chatterbox, I was talking about my college at the speed of a bullet train and being a good listener that he is, he indulged me. Unfortunately, I took a pause and he took it as his cue to talk. While he was talking, a teenager passed by me. His passing was too close for my comfort and then I heard the crude remark. After officially being eve-teased and more for close to 20 years now, I thought I was immune. But I still felt bad. It was a very shameful remark. And it came from a guy not more than 18-20 years. Actually that doesn't matter. What hurts is that it was a crude remark. As a reflex action, I turned and glared at him. Old man observed this. And then pat came the reply from the guy,"How dare you stare back?". Everything that happened next is super slow motion for me. My eyes saw Old man taking off behind the guy, chasing him. I also saw the guy's partner running behind them. I could hear someone's heavy breathing and I realized that it was mine due to running hard behind all of them.
However, they all had just vanished. Nothing was registering in my mind. I have always glared back, maybe shouted quite a lot of times, even slapped them and then moved on. Except for BR, no man has ever stood up for me. I have always handled it myself and moved on. Worse was that instead of feeling good about it, I was scared for Old man. I was worried that he would land up in trouble because of me. When I saw people gathered few steps ahead, I was scared that my fears had come true. The two guys were literally on Old man and some other guys had come by. A huge crowd was simply standing there and watching the drama unfold. Everyone was shouting. The eve teaser was trying to shout over Old man, the shopkeeper was shouting for them to move away from his shop and fight, the guy's friends were shouting and trying to corner Old man. The whole situation was a mess. And I was super scared.
I got in there and tried to get all of them to back off. Thankfully, they were not really hitting each other. I was shouting and trying to tell them what happened because it was looking like they were not believing Old man. After some heated words, we were able to shake them off and walk away. There was a sense of urgency in our demeanor. Later, he told me that everything was okay till the time guy's friends did not turn up and suddenly it was all against one. I don't know why Old man kept on telling me, " Thank God, you came. Situation could have gone anyhow. It could have even blown off. It was that guy's area." He was the one who stood up for me. I need to thank him. And I did. Why was he thanking me?
To say that both of us were scared is an understatement. What was weird was that we were scared about each other. I hope he doesn't stop talking to me after this episode because walking was my idea and everything that happened later was not good. And yet trust me, I was in awe of him, thankful to him, grateful to him and proud of him. While on the other side, I was assessing the whole situation again and again.
In my initial years, I used to blame myself a lot for teasing/harassing. Maybe I was not walking right, or maybe what I was wearing was not right, maybe it was because my hair was open and jack shit like this. With age and maturity, I understood that if someone is eyeing your property, no matter how glamorous or boring it is, it is their fault and not yours. I, me, myself is my property, my zone and no tom, dick and harry has the right to intrude. They giving excuses of dressing, looks and other reasons were an act of passing the blame on an innocent person. Any woman, respectable or not is the owner of her own zone. Only she will choose who gets entertained and who doesn't. No one else has the right to decide. In that matter, same applies to men.
Respecting a human being is the basic moral behavior which is alarmingly becoming an extinct behavior. And sadly, for a moment I went back to my old days reassessing whether or not I incited this situation. Fortunately, I got back to my senses soon. Though I was still scared. After I dropped him at his place, I would get scared if a bike would pass by my rick or come too close to it. When I got down near my apartment, I was scared seeing 5 guys standing together. My fears were over rated as they were from my colony but I was shaken. I still am. Hope this chapter ends here and we can forget this as a bad dream.
However, I can not stop ruing the fact that what a pleasant evening it was and how badly it ended. Though I saw for myself today that there are some men and then there are others.