Being a woman in India. How does it feel to be a woman in this country today? I don't know how to answer my own question because I don't have any more words left to say the things I and every other woman in this country have been saying repeatedly. I am more than the length of my skirt and the colour on my lips. I am more than my body and your narrow imagination. I am more than what you've made of me.
Do you know what it feels like to be a woman in this country? Angry, sad and very very scared.
I don't feel safe in my own country. Will I ever be able walk down a quiet street without worrying about the man walking behind me? What if he grabs me? So I wait, wait for him to walk past me before continuing on my way. Oh there's a car coming this way. Why is it so close to the pavement? What if they pull me in? That's happened before. Haven't you read the papers or do you skip the news about rapes and molestation willing it to go away? I must stop walking alone or I will go crazy, I tell myself.
I'm walking to work. A car is suddenly moving at the same pace as I am. I turn to look and before I can register the face, I see the penis. I am walking back from work, a motorcycle's headlight falls on my face and a slap on my breasts soon after. It was dark and no one was around. What if he'd decided he wanted more? I must always take a cab from now on, I tell myself . But how safe are they?
I lived in Bangalore until November. What if I'd decided to spend New Year's there? What if I'd chosen to party it up dressed to the nines at MG Road? I could've been one of those molested while celebrating the end of the year like the rest of the world. I decide no girls night out from now on. May be I'll be safer, I hope.
I'm a few too many drinks down. My friend is socializing at the other end of the room. That's perfect timing to make a pass at a girl and use your hands while at it. Because you think my ability to think straight after a few drinks is compromised? Or that alcohol has magical powers to suddenly attract me to you? Or is the glass of wine in my hand an unspoken signal? I brought it upon myself, she said. I should be more responsible, more careful, I chide myself.
“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don't let the bastards grind you down.”
Pictures taken by Subhadeep Saha
Location Courtesy: Country Roads, New Town, Kolkata