Smirking at one of my friend who sarcastically questioned me on leaving early from office, I picked up my handbag and left to the door to swipe my access card. My day had ended and I was happy to have taken my eyes off from the insane man made thing called a computer which unfortunately was my livelihood.
“Akka, Please don’t forget to buy the charger pin from Anna Nagar” I was reminded of my cousin’s request before I left from home earlier that day.
A scarf tied around my head and with a handbag, I got into a bus from my office bus stop and travelled for half an hour to reach Anna Nagar. Thanks to the traffic that moves in inches.
Roundtana bus stop was crowded as always and what more can you expect at the most peak hours of the day. A huge board read Mercy Electronics and that was my destination. It took me 10 minutes to juggle between the crowds and buy the charger pin. The needles in my watch showed 6.45 PM which meant that I had 25 minutes left to catch my local train to Perungalathur and I could do so only if I reached Nungambakam station on time.
A black and yellow share auto came and stood beside me; I climbed into it and sat at the last row. Barely had I sat that I realized that I was the only female inside with 6 men around me along with the driver.
And what do you think I would have started thinking about?????
Without any guesses, images of the Delhi gangrape case haunted me. 6 men alongwith the driver in a bus!!!!The only difference was that I was in a smaller vehicle and I had no male friend accompanying me too. The scenario was even more worst here. After having scrutinized on the chances of my escape from the share auto unharmed, I kept one leg of mine almost out in a position to be able to jump out at any instance.
My heart kept pounding as the auto sped. And unusually this driver didn’t stop at lot to load passengers which was exactly adverse to what the other drivers too. He passed by a number of people who kept waving their hand to stop him. A cold chill ran through my veins as I held my handbag tight almost pressing my stomach. My fingers started to feel cold which seemed to be anomalous in the month of March.
Reminded of face reading, I started reading the faces of the men who sat inside. There was a stout and rotund guy who had a huge moustache which almost covered half of her face. He sat exactly in front of me and kept turning to look at me. Every time he turned I had this urgent desire to fold my fingers and punch him across.
I realized that all these men were in between the age group of 25 to 30. (Which was another coincidence with the Nirbhaya case) On shifting my focus to the next man who was short and had these holes in his face which made him look even scarier, my chances to escape seemed to be meager.
There were two artificial red roses that stood on a plastic pot near the front mirror. It reminded me of the movie called Red Roses(called SigappuRojakal in Tamil). Earlier during the day I had read the plot of this movie and enjoyed the thrill it had portrayed. In a few minutes time would I be in the same situation as the victim in the movie? Such questions started luring me and making me even more petrified.
Lost in the thoughts of the movie, I failed to hear one of the men call out to me. He was sitting exactly opposite to me and staring at me with red eyes (Seemed to be drunk).“Time enna?”He asked me in a hoarse voice. I looked at my watch and stammered to answer him.
He murmured something into the ears of the guy sitting next to him and both of them started laughing. (Where they waiting for the right time to execute the plan??)I kept looking at the road to check how far I was from the destination. I still had to travel for ten minutes. Praying to God all along and trying to stop thinking negatively I continued my journey amongst 6 men.
With just half a kilometer left to reach my destination my BP level started to minimize and I somehow hoped that I would be safe in no time.
But the God’s had left me that day as exactly five minutes to reach my destination, the driver took a left turn which was no way leading to where I wanted to go.
“Anna, yen inga thirumbuninga?”(Why did u take a turn here?) I questioned the driver. Almost screaming at him and startling the others, the driver turned back in surprise.
“Traffic naala”,(because of traffic) he replied and sped.
He took another left turn and reached the destination. Hardly did he stop that I jumped out of the share auto and paid him the cash and walked briskly to the railway station.
The 7.10 local was on time and I caught the window seat thanking God that I could catch some fresh air.
A silent breeze swept across my face and ears and calmed the hallucinations that had tortured me for the past half an hour. It took me sometime to realize that I was actually safe, sound and unharmed. On looking back at what had happened that evening, it has become clear that every woman in India feels unsafe to travel alone.
I fear that in a few years’ time, we may succumb to heart attacks caused by such gory imaginations. It may have been that the men travelling alongside me in the auto were not those rapist kind of men, but the image that has been created because of the recent incidents increases the agony.
It would take an entire cultural change to stop this entire racket, which in turn would defy our ethics and moral values.
If you are a woman reading this post, I am sure you would be haunted by such scary hallucinations. So do let me know if you had any?