Monday, September 29, 2008

Public Nuisance(s)!

At 19 I was practically used to the early morning chastisement of the scorching sun and stinking crowd that held the city of Madras intact with the frigid overcast of psychotic, malevolent and moonstruck horde of earthlings. But, relatively speaking, I led a sheltered life as far as encounters with eve teasing is concerned; as I spent my two prime years of schooling happily riding my bicycle covering lesser than 3 kms both ways to finish off my high-school and similarly happened to travel in my college bus for almost all of my 4 years of UG life with the exception of select few times that I had to take city buses; thanks to the unusually timed exams and other extra curricular activities that kept me away from taking the usual college bus that would drop me with-in 500ft distance from my home.

In spite of these facts, it was one of those rare times when I happened to travel alone in an awfully crowded city bus that I have had an incident involving a“dire and desperate groping” or “perverse probing” of some sort that got me piqued with spleen & spite that I lost my temper and actually hit back at the guy in question, factually!

It was an hour and a half’s journey with the traffic giving room to a speed limit of no more than 10kmph, to add more to the hiccupping and bumper(butt?!)-kissing vehicles that were piled up ahead covering the line of view that comfortably settled well with in the near vicinity.
Fifteen monotonous minutes pass by with haggling and dangling passengers desperate to get their space to stand comfortably without having to be sandwiched between people from both sides; in all this, the bus gets progressively packed. There is hardly enough room to breath, let alone move. This sets the stage for the drama to unfold. I feel a pair of feet stepping forward to lean on my back; I move what little I can to avoid what I think of as the person who is really in need of some space to stand. Few seconds later, I feel a strange sense of something scraping past my lower back. As a reflex action, I lunge forward to grab the D-shaped iron bar which was acting as a head-rest pole, to avoid further abrasion. Few more moments pass by and then I feel it again. This time, I recognize a definite and deliberate rubbing. I try to turn around to see who it is at which I cannot succeed much as I couldn’t get enough space to turn my torso to a comfortable angle which could get me a view behind. At this unexpected movement of my body the contact withdraws with a sudden jerk.

A bus-stop comes by and few more people get in, but no one gets down garroting the already overflowing bus. I utilize this opportunity to turn-around; only to see a bunch of innocent looking commuters huddled at the other side of the bus, dreary and depleted of all energy. Bus chokes back to life after 10mins of what they call “Staging” which allows the conductor to squirm through the crowd to ensure purchase of tickets by all the passengers. After another uneventful set of minutes pass by with the bus getting gradually heavier due to the increasing load leaving my wait unproductive. I wait with agony half expecting the episode to have over and the other half to ambush upon my assailant when he resurfaces.

As the contemplation engulfs another couple of minutes, Suddenly, but slowly I feel the same leaning over rubbing to begin, and in an effort to control my blazing anger I catch hold of the nearest pole and bend my head down without altering the position of the rest of my body, apparently not giving any clues to my attacker, to find his legs right behind mine desperate to proceed in a forward movement. The bus was speeding past there was a lot of time for the next bus stop Guindy to come by, I did a quick strategy planning in the meantime and was waiting for the turn near Alandur to come by, and then when it did, as expected, as the bus took a sharp turn, it made all of us who were standing to go back and forth and some of us to loose balance which included me, albeit my balance was lost intentionally and landed with my whole weight on the right big toe of my tormentor and ended-up kneeing him by landing the blow pretty hard on his lower abdomen and was contended with a muffled groan of “uggg………ahhhh” that I heard in return of my action and quickly gather myself to an up-right position in a manner of balancing myself from the steep turn that the bus took, mentally thanking the driver having provided such an opportunity for me to quickly act upon!

When I got down at Guindy, behind me after 2 women and a school kid, I saw a man in his late thirties covering his groin area with his left palm and limping on his right foot stumbling his way through the crowd moaning in pain, while I satisfactorily headed towards the crowded sub-way to get to the other side of the road.

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