Respect is a Tobacco Stained Street.

have shorts will smoke


The following is a personal account submitted by SMIW reader Ankita Srivastava to our campaign, #HaveShortsWillSmoke.

One late evening, I was in an auto rickshaw going back home. On the road, my auto driver was peeking into another auto’s backseat which obviously alarmed me because one, it’s dangerous to do that on the road and second, what business does he have to look at anyone minding their own business?

I asked him what he was doing and the (aged) man replied, “Beti pata hai vo ladki kya le ja rahi thi? Daaru!” (Beti, do you know what that girl was carrying? Alcohol!”)

I knew he was going to say something extremely sexist, so i just said “Accha” (OK).

He proceeded with “Sab kehte hai ladkiyon ki izzat karo, izzat karo. Lekin jab vahi bahu betiyan cigarette peeyengi, daaru peeyengi toh izzat kaun karega?” (Everyone says respect women, but when the same daughters and daughter-in-laws will drink and smoke, who will respect them?)

At that moment, I wanted to say a lot of things like respect for someone does not correlate to what they eat and drink and smoke, regardless of gender. And even if it does for certain people, then fine. Women don’t want your respect, because you’re probably not capable of giving it to any living person. Women only want the violence and discrimination against them to stop. Respect is a heavy loaded word anyway.

But, I didn’t say all of those things, because I just wanted to get home. And I don’t even bother to say stuff like this anymore these days.

What literally made me bite my tongue was that he spit ghutka (tobacco) out of his mouth on the road after saying all of that. I only could think of saying, “Waise ghutka chabaake thookne vaalo ki bhi izzat karna thoda mushkil hai uncle” (By the way, uncle, it’s kinda difficult to respect those chewing tobacco as well.

Have Shorts. Will Smoke.