There was a disgusting school – or junior college on the way to the best bakery in the City. They had avoided it for months now, but Shema was allergic to eggs, and the only decent eggless cakes were in that bakery. They'd put their heads together and come to the conclusion, after much mulling over the pros and cons, that someone had to go order the cake. They found dates when at least three of them were free and made their way to the Bakery as rapidly as they could. Placed the order. Unanimously – and silently – decided to forget the message on the cake, just get it blank. Didn’t want one of their names said out loud – just in case. Ignored the stares from the small group of boys-men who were smoking just outside the sparkling glass front of the bakery. Left as soon as they could.
Luckily, only one of them understood the local language, and she refused to translate. As it happened, her ears had turned red with embarrasment and her eyes were flashing anger. But she only urged her freinds – lets leave a little more quickly. The others understood. One did not need to understand what was being said to know the general drift of it. Anyone could recognise the ugly tones of what people were content to call 'eve-teasing'.
What a simple, almost harmless name for such a terrible thing to do. I would not claim that I am scarred for life, but those incidents do leave me feeling – ugly. Greasy. Anything to get the feel of those eyes and those words off…
But back to the 'story':
However, they forgot that someone would have to go pick up the cake. It had to be cut, hadn't it? And on that day, there was only one person free. She resolved, nobly, that she would do the job. It was fair, after all, and besides, what could happen? She finished lab – being a normal college student, after all – and felt unusally jittery. It was just a cake! She considered calling a couple of guy-friends for backup. She checked her clothes, found the jeans and t-shirt that were normal for college far too 'dangerous' for the job at hand, and went back to the hostel and changed into the loosest set of clothes she could find. Salwar Kameez too. She did her darnest to hide the streaks in her hair, all the while frantically SMSing her friends, hoping someone, anyone was free. There wasn't. She bit her lip and decided to bust a solid 80 bucks extra on taking an auto for those 120 meters of the city.
Her luck, the autos were nowhere to be found. Worse, the school wall was lined with blue-and-navy-blue wearing hooligans for whom (unfortunately) school had just let out. She hadn't prayed for her last exams (no joke) btu she prayed now, but for what, she wasn't quite sure. Please, God, let nothing happen. Her normally lesiure stride was short and rapid, and her bag was clutched into fisted hands. She all but ran to the Bakery.
She did survive. Nothing – much – happened. She did not know what was being said, but she knew what it was being said about. She would learn, as would others, to shut thier ears to these things, and move out of range quickly, especially if you are alone. What a joke, like numbers would make a difference!
And it would happen again.
Really, and they call it teasing? Like what you do with your best friends when you are at ease? TEASING?
I first wanted to write something about this when it first happened to me. I was amazingly protected as a child, I never realised how much till I moved into the hostel and 'independent life'. Again, when I read MumbaiGirl's post. And now this BLANK NOISE PROJECT, even though I am a few days late.
By the way, that anecdote, except for Shema's name and the allergy to eggs bit, happened. I cannot write about the time that something DID happen, but rest assured, that too is 'normal'.
It is 'civilised' and it is 'acceptable' and even in sarcasm I cannot say it is the girl's fault.