Not To Blame

by Ishita S

I was in my 10th standard and like every girl, I was very conscious of the weight problem. I used to go to my Music tuitions in the evening, and once I learned the address, I told my mum that I would like to rather walk to my tuition than to have her drop me there. She would mostly drop me late, too. To avoid all the embarrassment and to keep a check on my weight, I chose walking. And since the place was less than two kilometres away from my place, my parents were okay with it.

One evening, when I was walking back after my classes, listening to Lata Mangeshkar's collection I saw a man in white shirt, with 'Tere Naam' Salman Khan's hairdo on a cycle. He was very slim, dark and I definitely got bad vibes from him. He looked creepy. But, since he was on the bike and had passed me, I was okay with the fact that he was gone. I kept walking and humming the tune of "Mere naseeb mein". Suddenly I felt a hand on breast, he pressed them and went away. I could see him looking at me, smiling his creepy smile. By the time I realised what happened I took the first rock I could find and tried to aim at him but I had already started weeping. I threw the rock but, it was in vain. He was far away.

Every evening when I would be coming back, I always encountered my neighbours, a couple in their late 40s. We exchanged smiles and hellos. That evening too I saw them. They made way for my molester to go and did not do anything. They saw me, and ignored my existence in another second. It was as though nothing had happened. I kept weeping, my knees were shaking. A man had touched me without my consent. It was far more than the physical touch. He had crushed something inside of me.

I ran back to my house. My mother was on the phone, who did not notice anything. My father wasn't home. My brother was watching TV. I took his hand and pulled him to my room. He kept asking what was going on, but I could not speak. The tears I had wiped and held back before I entered my house, I could not hold them back. I hugged him and cried. I stuffed my handkerchief in my mouth and screamed, still hugging him. He asked what happened. All I could say was that "that guy" and kept repeating. He took me outside the room, made me wipe my tears, tried to hide me from Mum, took gypsy keys and went out. He helped me get into the seat. He said, "Touch me the way that motherf***er touched you." I refused constantly. He said he wanted to know what exactly had happened, to understand the severity of it. I touched his left side of chest and pressed it.

He drove everywhere in the campus we live in, to find the molester. But, we couldn't. Then, he went to the main gate's guards and scolded them that they let a 'son of a b****' enter the gates. We couldn't find him, but my brother left his number with the guards, and told him if they find that guy, to hold him with them and give him a call.

I found out next morning, that my brother did get a call. He went there without telling me and hit him really bad. He came back and hugged me. All he was saying is that it wasn't my fault.

More than the thought of justice, more than the thought of my molester being beaten black and blue, my brother hugging me, telling me that I was not wrong, mattered the most to me. No matter what I wore, how short or revealing the dress was, I was not wrong. I was not wrong to walk instead of choosing a 'safer' mode to commute. I was not wrong that the neighbours did not choose to help me. I was not wrong anywhere.

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