I’m your average Indian male. I’m 18, I go to college and I piss on streets when I want to. My name, religion or the city I live in, don’t matter – for the most part. I belong to a middle-class family. They brought me up as well as their capacities permitted but somewhere along the years, I grew up believing that women are weaker, they can’t drive cars or play cricket. That being a woman was a cruel, cosmic joke.
At school, we boys had our cricket bats, dirty jokes and fart noises. Besides, most girls didn’t even play sports. As we grew up, this notion reversed itself and Spielberg’s ET-like alien female sex didn’t seem so alien after all. They could never be one of us, but they surely looked tempting. My friends often said that girls are meant for only one thing. Sex. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? Where do we get the sex?
I had a friend. He was tall with slim legs and an on/off moustache. In short, ugly. But when it came to girls, he was a pure charmer. He had a girlfriend. I always wondered how she had fallen for him – she was the class topper and fairly good-looking (or as we called her – hot). One day, we discovered that he wasn’t in love with her. Just was in it just for the sex. Our friend’s popularity grew overnight after that. We would ask him for tips on how to woo girls without having to go through the daily rites of giving them gifts or pretending to have feelings for them. Of course he dumped her when he left school – it didn’t take him more than three months to find another girl, even hotter than the last one. How we had worshipped him!
Boys will be boys.
We grew up. So did our knowldge about the female anatomy. This was ushered by the era of pornography – the open secret of every normal Indian male’s growth process. We gasped, sneered and functioned in that guilty pleasure. Contrary to popular belief, men do look at a girl’s face. After we have scanned her breasts and legs, of course. Buses, hospitals or family functions, my friends and I would not hesitate to touch a girl. One small chance and we’d be at her. And no girl ever complained. Why would they? Public shaming can be worse than the Cruciatus Curse.
A friend who was besotted with his neighbour, decided to go a bit further. He had asked her out in every way possible – flowers, warnings, pleadings, Facebook, etc. But she was an out and out good Indian girl. We came to know about this incident only after it had happened. He had stalked her one evening as she was returning from tuition and ended up forcibly kissing and groping her. He was sent to juvenile detention (to quote him ‘I’m 17, rarest of the rare cases’) and the girl shifted to another city.
Boys will be boys.
If you’re in a group, they can’t catch you. And by the time it’s over, either there are no witnesses or, the girl herself has withdrawn the complaint. But we would never do anything alone. We love our egos and our camaraderie. Shall I tell you a secret? It doesn’t matter what a girl wears or how she talks, we love them all.
I have a younger sister whom I adore. Once she had come back home with a broken wrist because some men had harassed her and she had tried to fight them off. I had slapped her hard. “What else do you expect when you go out in these vulgar shorts?” She dresses in kurtas now. The teasing hasn’t stopped, but it has definitely lessened.
Until now, I hadn’t molested anyone per se. Until that fateful, rainy day, when my friends and I drove to the outskirts of the city. We had reached our favourite fast food joint and were feasting on hot pakodas and tea. A group of female tourists were talking and sipping coffee nearby. One of them was fair, about 5”4’ and had big, beautiful brown eyes. I couldn’t look away and I realised I had goose bumps all over my arms.
The owner had gone home due to some emergency and it was just us, those tourists and two young workers in the joint. I stood up, boldly walked up to them (damn these goose bumps!) and asked her, “Hi. May I know your name?” No answer. “I think you’re very beautiful. May I know your name?”
Annoyed, I walked back and joined my friends. They of course, couldn’t stop laughing and making rude gestures. The tourists didn’t say anything. Encouraged, I exclaimed loudly how beautiful girls play hard to get. These exchanges went on for some time but seeing no reaction from the tourists, we got bored and decided to leave. As we got out, I walked by the table at which she was sitting and touched her back, feeling the shape of her bra.
Goose bumps again.
I had reached my motorcycle, when something tapped me on my back. I turned around and a hard slap landed on my left cheekbone. She was standing before me, lips trembling and her big, beautiful eyes boring into mine. I could have probably taken her down but I just stood there. Trembling. Scared. Ashamed. Her nameless face staring at me in the rain.
It’s difficult to forget the first time someone stands up to you.
About the Author:
Dimoy is a writer, traveller and loves a good trek.