I woke up this morning to the usual rhythm of rage at my alarm clock and the enthusiasm of an old, worn-out sweater. I made a quick cup of coffee, watched a few vlogs, made my way to the bathroom and dragged myself out of the house to begin what already felt like a never-ending day.
A few mails, a beer lunch and a few hours later, I closed shop and decided to head home.
Something so reassuring about those two words. It’s the road that’s been mapped on the back of your hands. It’s the anchoring of your ship. It’s the comfort of your own bed and it’s the silhouette that has kept you safe all these years.
But that isn’t always true. Because on September 9th, 2015, I was a victim of voyeurism so fearless and uninhibited, it made a self-proclaimed-pepperspray-carrying-feminist-quotes-sharing woman like me feel real fear for the first time.
The kind of fear that was born solely out of the fact that I was a woman. The kind of fear that you file under the those-things-would-never-happen to me and/or did-you-read-the-Facebook-post-about-that-sexual- harassment-incident part of your mental drawer.
I was paying my rickshaw fare and walking towards the gate of my home, while this sheepish, almost shriveled voice reaches me from a distance.
I turn around and the visual seemed as pathetic as the act. He was a nothing tall, well-built, full-grown man in a blue shirt and a sweat-pant born from a mother.
He looked at me square in the eye and started masturbating. He seemed unapologetic. Broken. Empty. Dead.
My mind blanked out for a minute and all my cerebral processes together could only conjure up one word: What?
He went ahead and mumbled, “You have nice, big boobs.”
I was standing outside my house. And I was inches away from a man who not only forced me to be a part of his rotten, dying fetish, he ruined my “heading home.”
I stood there real silent as he fled on his bike, continuing to make eye-contact.
I stood there at the doorstep of my house, feeling scared.
I have never been afraid. Of the dark, of lonely roads, of sharp objects, of failure. I don’t like how fear feels.
But with a jerk of a hand and a start of an engine, he made me feel fear for a minute. And I was angry. At myself. At him. At the ground outside my house.
I stood there feeling rage that was born out of something so fresh and real, I could feel my palms burn.
While most of my rage was directly connected, a large part of it was born from something far more deep. It was born from the fact that I allowed him to scare me. It was born from the fact that I this happened to me because I was born a certain gender.
After exactly seven glasses of water, a written police complaint and a four minute no-soap-shower, I decided to write this down.
I have never felt less human and more woman before.
My mind turned into a rolodex of every word I’ve ever read from and about women who’ve had unfortunate Uber rides, to women who didn’t live to tell their story.
So, to all women,
I will always speak with you as a woman who wants to be more than just a body.
I will always speak with you as a woman whose body is scanned and inspected every single moment.
I will always speak with you as a woman who wants to be heard, not questioned or blamed, when she reports a sexual assault.
I will always speak with you as a fellow abstract, fully formed human being with the right to autonomy over her body.
We are not their exotic. We are not their erotic.