Immersing myself in the issue of street sexual harassment has made me calmer or less angry in some ways. I am set on being part of the process of communication rather than immediate reaction. Taking the position of the communicator makes me want to address rather than react.
There is irrational rage, the kind of rage that does not allow someone to see, hear, think, feel. How do you communicate with a very very angry person?
I was walking down Brigade Road, looking forward to a very sinful deathbychocolate at the Cornerhouse and then suddenly I saw a man trip on the road. A scooter hit him. The person on the scooter was a woman, perhaps middle aged, in helmet and sari. She apologized.
He got up and started screaming at her.
I walked to the site- at first wondering if they were a couple and that he had fallen off or whether he was a person crossing the road who had tripped.
She had tears in her eyes.
He was yelling at her in kannada.
" You don't know how to drive. you stupid woman!"
I stood there repeating ,"Stop it. She has said sorry. Please stop it".
...and then before I knew it, he slapped her.
I was looking around and there was no one coming to the site.
I didn't pull his hand back because he could have slapped me.
I was left repeating ," how could you slap her? why did you slap her? she apologized for the accident, you did not have to slap anyone!"
" Will you pay for my injury?"
I don't know of his injury. He was walking as normal.
I turned around , still repeating the same questions, and getting no answers.
I saw a woman on the pavement, fuming with rage , walking upto her husband, screaming,
"why doesn't anyone come to help?!"
I looked at her and asked her why she didnt come to help.
"why were you standing here and watching too?!"
She walked upto that man and screamed
" How dare you? How dare you , you bastard?! you fucking bastard?! how dare you slap a woman?!!"
" How dare you call me a f$!@£!@ b£@$@£$?! you whore?!"
I continued to ask him why he hit her. I asked him to not deviate from the point.
I repeated- "why did you have to slap her?! "
My question was ignored.
The woman's husband pulled her away and yelled at the man who had met with the accident- he was swearing too.
We told him to come with us to the police station for slapping a woman. He said yes but the woman has gone.
A crowd had gathered. finally.
The man disappeared.
Some said- you are just 2 women. Dont get into these things. He will harm you.
Some said- you are right. We also saw this. how dare he misbehave.
Some said- nothing will come of this.
We stood on the pavement asking why no one came to support?
A middle aged man on his bike commented, " Next time there should be more male supporters and the only way we can deal with him is by bashing him up. That's the only 'solution'."
I was warned to not continue walking in the direction that I was. I was going to catch an auto rickshaw home. I walked the other way round, another route, just incase he was hiding, waiting for a prey. I hated having to do that. and I hated not having been able to do more than stare, ask a question that remained unanswered. I am glad that there was a crowd and there was an angry woman but is rage the answer to rage?