I went back and forth to pen down this dreadful incident which took place with a dear friend when she was just a child.
Sheena was traveling to Ahmedabad in a local bus with her mom and a few relatives. She was 11-12-years-old then. She took the window seat and her mother sat next to her. All the other relatives and cousins got seated randomly in the bus. The state transport bus was completely packed and the journey continued with the usual jerks and pushes. They were lucky to find seats for themselves. Sheena rested her head on the window frame and happened to fall asleep in the middle of the journey. After some time, she realized that the bus had stopped moving but Sheena was too sleepy to open her eyes. Suddenly, she felt someone moving a palm over her left breast. Before she could open her eyes that person pinched her so hard that she almost screamed with pain.
To her horror, Sheena couldn’t see her mom anywhere around her. Instead, there was an elderly man sitting in the place of her mom, an average aged man sitting in the opposite seat and a few other men standing right in front of her. Sheena desperately looked for her mom. She was terrified. The worst part was that she couldn’t understand who did that to her as all the men around her acted normal and dignified; there was no one who stared or looked at her in an inappropriate way so she couldn’t even guess as to who it was. She got confused and thought that it could be a bad dream. But it wasn’t. The pain which she felt on her breast, made it certain. At that time, Sheena was just entering her adolescence and her body was undergoing the obvious changes, to which she was not used to. The pain, and the humiliation it brought with it, was immense and unbearable.
She waved at her cousin who was sitting some 4-5 seats behind her. “Where did my mom go?”
“She has gone down to buy some snacks”, her cousin replied.
Within few minutes, Sheena saw her mom climbing the bus and she yelled, “Why did you leave me alone?”
Her mom said innocently, “You were sleeping, I didn’t want to wake you up. I told Sneha to look after you.”
Sheena said nothing. The elderly man sitting next to her offered a seat to Sheena’s mom with great courtesy. Sheena was still doubtful whether what happened to her was for real. But, the pain was real, it was still there. She was scared.
Sheena did not have sufficient sex education at that age, which led her to think that she could get pregnant anytime soon because some man had touched the wrong part of her body. She was haunted by this thought for days together. She wanted to tell it to her mother. But she could not. What would she tell her? She herself didn’t know who did it, and also didn’t know how to tell it. She was ashamed of what had happened. She just told her mother that she was having a lot of pain in her chest, to which he mother said, “It is normal. It’s because you are growing up now.”
Sheena, till today, regrets not telling it to her mom at that time. Nevertheless, she learned a lot from all the unfortunate episodes of eve teasing, which she faced later as a teenager. Each incident made her brave and courageous, also paranoid at times, to be true. But all this made her mentally so strong, that even though she is not an expert in any of the self-defence skills, she is capable of protecting herself from any kind of a nuisance. Don’t you believe me? Ask those ill-mannered idiots whom she has slashed in public and the guy whom she got arrested.
Guess some of the self-defence skills women learn from life. Rest is honed by professional trainers.
*** Names of the characters are changed in the story