Thursday, August 31, 2006

The deep dread..


I glanced at my watch…

6.35pm.

“I should have remembered that it gets dark early in November. “I chided myself.

The lights of the traffic roaring ahead colored the raindrops blue, green and red… It had started to drizzle.

Peeps was away. My car was in the workshop. It had been a casual Saturday shopping with my boys aged 7 and 5... Not that I needed anything urgent.

Just an excuse to pamper ourselves. Wandering through the shops.. Cosmetics.. Clothes.. Black forest cake and Milkshake with Ice cream for the boys.

Gautam was raising his face to the sky in abandon.. His tongue catching the raindrops falling down.. His shoelace was undone. His tee shirt trailing down from his jeans..

Taj stood pulling my shawl.. he looked sleepy.. his jeans lay hung low on his hips.. the bottom trailing in the mud..

I tried to wave frantically at the auto rickshaws but they just whirred past ahead.. Fast..

I glanced at my watch..

6.50pm.

“Lets walk “. I pulled them along. Walking towards Palayam.. I was sure to get an auto there

The rain was gathering momentum. The trees in the university college campus looked sinister..The VJT hall looked threatening in the dark. I looked for the reassuring policeman often seen near the Spencer’s.. No he was not seen anywhere..

Ooh..! One auto was slowing down..

"Where to..?" His eyes measured the three of us huddled against the rain.. Without even an umbrella..

“”Kumarapuram.." I shouted raising my voice above the rain..


“No.” He shook his head snobbishly...The auto whirred ahead..

The sadistic pleasure in the ‘no’ was evident..

Rain plastered the hair to my skull. My clothes hung to my body dragging on my steps.. I drooped..

I could feel the eyes on me.. Young.. Old.. Measuring.. Weighing.. Teasing.. Curious.. Inquisitive..

Touching me..

“Oh yes..!” Another auto was slowing down..!

I clambered in pulling my boys along before the driver could open his mouth.. could speak..

“Where to..?”

“Kumarapuram”

Rs.90.

“Ok. “I sounded breathless..

I leaned back on the seat.. hugging my boys towards me... my eyes closed thankfully..

I could feel Gautam’s eyes on me..

I smiled at him reassuringly..

His eyes gazed at me..

“Why did you agree..?”

“It is late na..?”

“But it is too high..” He sounded indignant.

“It is dark na..?”

"But it is not fair.."

He looked disturbed..

“You are a coward.. You allowed yourself to be bullied.. Emotionally blackmailed.. "

His eyes accused me..

How can I explain it to him..?

I boss and admonish men in my work place.. I don’t suffer fools or bullies gladly during the day. I drive alone in the city even after 11.30pm cocooned in the safety of my car.

But in the night.... surrounded by staring eyes. If I am alone.. I feel strange..

My confidence falls.. A familiar deep unexplainable dread cloaks me.. I feel the eyes on me.. My voice become high pitched.. My breath quickens..

And those eyes stare at me.. Disturbing me.. Making me want to run to a safe haven..

Maybe it is my fault.. Maybe my response brings out the killer instincts in those around me..

Yes.. Maybe it is my fault.. Or maybe it is the fault of the men in my State.. Who look at me as if they have not seen a female of the species..

I have accepted it as part of being a woman.. Infact I have even included it in my profile..


Recently Parvathy ventured out alone at night. in my city.. To assess the problems faced by women who travel alone at night..

There were discussions about it in the newspapers and TV shows..

I felt happy to read it.. At least some women were trying to change it, not just accept it like me...

27 comments:

Jiby said...

good post...the situation in tvm can be changed by the women here...what parvathy did was indeed a brave effort...the kerala woman still chooses to shy away from facing up to our men, though they have equal access to jobs and education.

with technopark goin thru a boom phase there are more women out on the tvm streets, at dusk and later, trying to get home. but i can sense their hearts beating harder and walking faster once they leave the relative safety of the main roads for the bylanes where they stay.

i seriously think the bourgeoning tv channels we have in kerala shud use their spy cams and sting many of these anti-socials instead of their stupid bakra and tharikida programmes!

silverine said...

I could actually picture you in the rain with your little boys... Every move you make in public in Kerala is a spectacle. People just stand and watch, it's like they are starved of entertainment. They just stare and stare, you feel eyes following you everyhwere, every minute, every second, you feel like a goldfish in a bowl...

LI said...

Hmm ,feels Strange when the feelings come so openly from a highly educated lady like you .

justme said...

u r being too hrad on yourself doc..!! we men r really wretched things ..!! :-(

Alexis Leon said...

I also have read the article Parvathy has written and has seen the TV shows. I have seen and experienced people taking advantage of other just because they are in a helpless situation. I had to pay 3 times the normal fare during my first week in Madras—I was in a similar situation. It was getting late and was raining and I didn’t know how to reach my cousin’s place (where I was staying) by bus. So the auto driver took me for a ride.

I think you made a wise decision in taking the ride even though you agreed to pay more. Sometimes, being courageous can be very dangerous. At that time the only objective is to get to the safety of your home.

I feel bad when I hear or read about these incidents. Most of the people who attended the talk show said this was a problem very specific to Kerala. Are we that bad? Why are things in other cities better than this? One of the answers was that in those cities prostitution was legal. Will legalizing prostitution solve the problem? If it will, let us go ahead and legalize it.

But in my opinion, if the problem has to be eliminated completely, we have to change the mindset of the people. The kids should be taught to treat others with respect. Education should start from the family and schools where there a mutual respect and camaraderie among boys and girls should be encouraged.

Parents and teachers should show the way. How can a child told to respect girls when his father is ogling the maid? So fundamentally the mindset of the society has to change.

Girls and women should react rather than suffer and fellow women and men should support rather than remain passive when such incidents occur. May be we have to regain our ability to react.

Why the same people, who can smash cars, call hartals and bandhs at the drop of a hat, will remain as spectators when they see such atrocities performed in broad daylight? We need to change…otherwise as Mind Curry’s site says, Gods own country will soon become Dogs own country…

anumita said...

Dont blame yourself. You didn't do anything wrong. Sometimes situations demand that you stretch a little to keep things going.

Jaguuuu said...

Hi Doc...

I remember when I was back home.. I used to worry so much till my sisters reached home. I have also had to lay my hands on eveteasers twice while me & my sister were travelling back from Calicut. Almost Everyone I know who is not from kerala but been there tell me how the Men at Gods Own country acted way strange when they saw women. I saw the talk show "Nammal Thammil" which was about this and Parvathy was also there. The Dude in the panel was just talking rubbish. Almost every women there had such bad experience at public places in Kerala. What is the way out??? I cant think of any other then proper education.. we should discuss this..

aqua said...

The situation will change one day... The mentality of the people has to change. In mumbai and other metros women can walk fearless even in 11 o'clock night. Palayam, statue, Ayurveda college spots are still a scare for ladies in the late eve.

aqua said...

The situation will change one day... The mentality of the people has to change. In mumbai and other metros women can walk fearless even in 11 o'clock night. Palayam, statue, Ayurveda college spots are still a scare for ladies in the late eve.

--Sunrise-- said...

wow... your son actually said that (at age 7)? i was nowhere near that mentality at age 7...! :)

and hey, no one is perfect... there are moments when we fall (and our confidence falls). it's how you handled the situation considering the circumstances and how quickly you rise back up that matters... :)

AJITH said...

Its because of the mentality of the people. And , that should be reformed starting from an earlier age.In kerala, if someone sees a woman walking alone in the streets after 6 or 7, lewd remarks are bound to come..But if we are properly groomed teaching equality and honour to women by putting it into practice, that atmosphere is bound to change.

AJITH said...

And, do u have a link to the article by Parvathy that u were talking about ?

ann said...

A "very" realistic post. I myself have been in a similar situation 4-5 yrs ago . Just that the place (Chennai) was even more scary ,it was raining "heavily" at night and 3 of us (not another soul on the road) ,were desperately trying to get back to our hostel and not even a single auto man came our way & who ever came either refused to take us coz of the rain & distance or demanded a HUGE amt. to an otherwise low fare. It was damn scary .. I shud say that !!!

Finally we "3 girls" were walking on Mount Road fully drenched in the heavy rain .. helpless , when an auto man stopped n asked us to get in , without even asking the place to go . Once we got in , we knew we were in safe hands as he started narrating the consequences that cud have occured by "being out" so late in such a situation in a place like Chennai ... MAN !!! It really did send a chill thru our spinal cord. He dropped us at our hostel, took the exact fare and drove away .. We dint speak anything for a while to one another . ( Deep sigh !!!! ) .....

Guardian angel / Good Samaritan ?? !!!

Sujit said...

Its still off to move all alone int the streets.. after sunset!.. eevn thou we say we are forwards thinkers and bhal.. blah.. but still the safety on raods is bleak. Good atlest to some extent something is happening.. hope to happen at much larger extent..

the Monk said...

It's been a while...and you write just as well...and you evoke such memories of trivandrum...

jax said...

What i see is a strong mother pushing her way through despite the odds, take comfort in that. Don't be too hard on yourself.

hope and love said...

thanks everybody. the situation is not so bad. it is just that we women have this fear and hence we r unable to react
sunrise:-my son did not say anything accussing.it was just that he appeared to be a bit disturbed and i couldn't somehow explain my deep dread to him.
ajith: idon't have any link u may find somthing on manoramaonline.

Geo said...

Or maybe it is the fault of the men in my State

rite. its our fault.
in mumbai, ppl who try any of these gimmicks get royally beaten up by the public. i hope keralites will soon start doing that. guess thats the only way to stop this.

illusion said...

where's my comment...(sad me!)

emmanuel said...

agony of being a mother and a woman......no surprise in god's own country......woman means a "watch for the eyes".....being mother or sister or daughter doesn't make any difference.... stares and comments are for sure.....
don't know why is it so even after cent percent literate and high social awareness..........

and alexis put it acroos rightly.....

btw nice post.....reading ur blog for the first time.....nice posts.....when do you get to write like this after work and looking after the kids???

Kaushik said...

Touching post...not the first I've read on the topic, but perhaps the best.

As a member of the much maligned male species, ashamed to say this is a problem that may never truly be eradicated. Behavior can be controlled, but the thought-process, perceptions are unlikely to change.

And its not the just the fault of men in your state.

I'm not saying you should jump to paranoid conclusions each time you see a man on the road at night; but don't waste too much time chiding yourself for your thoughts either.

P.S: I'm a certified chauvinist in just about every other aspect of male behavior - this is the only exception :)

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