Friday, January 4, 2013

Culpability

It was in Pune. I was riding my scooter back home from work, via the railway station. When I was standing at a traffic light, I saw them. A mother, a teenaged daughter, a young son. And I saw the man as he walked by the girl and pinched her buttocks. The girl started, her mother glared, the man moved away. The traffic light changed, I drove on. End of incident. Or not. This was atleast 7 years ago, and I still remember that scene with guilt.

And more recently, in the Delhi metro. It was late in the evening- I had come in by the train, and was going to my hotel. There were about half a dozen women in the women's coach- and 4 men. The type you probably know- tight tees stretched over paunches, expensive jeans, lots of bling, sunglasses after sundown, lots of cologne. 'This is a ladies' coach, Bhaisaab' I said ' general coach is over there.' They smirked. I persisted, 'there's plenty of space there too..This is a ladies coach 24 hours.' One of them looked at me and rolled his eyes. I shut up, cheeks blazing with embarrassment. The woman sitting opposite me gave me two thumbs-up..hiding her hands behind her purse.

Now a nation is struggling to answer the question,' how could this happen?' Some are baying for blood. Some want to change the culture in India, in the world. I am part of the group that thinks that every single one of us is responsible. Don't think so?  Read Peter Griffin's sobering post 'the problem is us'

The incidents I wrote about are a small fraction of the many times I averted my glance. Even when I was the victim. In the bus incident, why did I keep quiet? Why did I shield that man? It would have been easy enough to call the conductor, 'Bhaisaab, please give this gentleman another seat..he seems to be getting a little too close.' Why did I not do that?

It was the commentary in my head..He will stop now. Why do you want to make a noise? People will think you are making a tamasha. The bus reaches early. He might 'do something' after you get down. You don't want publicity. Keep quiet.

Those voices have made me an accomplice. Enough. It is difficult for me to argue, to confront, to talk to people. But yell like a banshee I can. That should be enough, no?

 

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

So frustrating that most of us will never end up thinking this way. Its indeed the root of the problem.

Me - growing up as a girl in Delhi with educated modern parents - they are academics. Awful. I never had a hankering for fashion (or I did but was too ashamed to be open about it), but my poor sweet sister. She loved dressing up, nail polish, cute clothes etc. I remember the day she tried to go out wearing a sleeveless top. My father: "Going out wearing that!? Are you trying to attract attention on purpose so men will lech at you? Do you _want_ to get raped and molested?" My own father. A class 1 asshole.

nadi said...

Write. You can.

nadi said...

dear Anonymous,

Thank you for sharing this.

Anger , personal anger is good , for you can convert it to strength