One rainy afternoon while coming back home from school by bus, I was carrying a bunch of stationary and a big piece of thermocol sheet. Some project was given by the school for which those were required. I entered the bus which was moderately full, sat in the ladies’ section of a completely empty seat and adjusted all my belongings.
While trying to do so, the person behind me politely offered to help. He helped me shut the window as it was raining.
I thanked him and settled myself. Drops of water still made its way inside from the closed window turning my right sleeve wet.
Now you see, I was wearing my school uniform which was made of a synthetic material because of which it often stuck to the skin. Thus, whenever I felt a weird sensation on the right side of my body, I blamed the material of the shirt and pulled my shirt away from the skin.
However, what I couldn’t understand was, how the sensation was occurring multiple times. I didn’t think much of it.
I was looking straight and then the sensation returned quite aggressively. I looked down to again pull my shirt away. To my disbelief, I saw a hand retreat from the space between the window and the seat. Suddenly everything fell into place. My wet shirt wasn’t the one to blame. It was the man who had previously helped me, who looked close to 40, who thought it was okay to feel up a school girl!
You see, no matter how much you read about such things, when you are in such a situation, you don’t know how to react.
“Do I scream at him? Or do I let him go?” I couldn’t decide.
Mind you I was only in 8th grade.
I looked around the bus to notice that the crowd had thinned out and only one other female was on board.
Helplessly I got up, went to another seat and got down at the next stop.
Now that I look back, I feel maybe I should have shouted at him. Maybe I should have let all the people on the bus know just what kind of a soulless pedophile he was, that he thought it was okay to abuse a school-girl so outrageously. But such experiences bruise the soul for life. Today I am so conscious, that I look suspiciously at every uninvited touch, even if accidental.
***True Story, as told to Akshay Peddiwar under conditions of anonymity