Of Being Disillusioned By My City!

There is a lot being said about the Mumbai gangrape. I usually dont write on such topics on my blog. Call me a coward, but somehow, such topics make me lose sleep, I feel something is troubling me at the back of my mind for days together, and often end up with a headache by the end of the day, most days. Only because I read about the horrendous way one human treats a fellow human.

There was a time when I would fight with the whole world saying Mumbai is the safest place in the world. When Amma used to tell me stories of eve teasing she underwent in Calcutta, I would smugly tell her that the place I grew up was the safest ever, and thankfully the place I got married into, seemed equally safe. I remember going home, at 11 in the night, 12 in the night, even when I was in my advanced stage of pregnancy, all alone after finishing work, with RD caring a hoot whether I reached home or not, because both of us were supremely confident about the safety of this city.

Until, news started trickling in recently. The abuse of the 4 year old child by the bus helper, this gang rape……

You would find this hard to believe, but two things happened since yesterday.

At night, we had some time in hand and RD said we could go for a short walk. I agreed. We went, and R wanted to go till the end of the road. RD refused. I didnt pay heed and agreed to R and walked till the end of the road. When I came back, RD was furious. This is from a guy who wouldnt even bother to call and ask me if I was home safe. He has started getting scared now.

Then today morning, R and I were at the bus stop. This young man was sitting at the bus stop. I placed her bag and she sat next to the bag. The young man didnt move from his place and there was some place so he could have shifted. He didnt. I ignored. R asked me sit down next to her, but there was no way I could sit since the young man was sitting close. I told her I will stand and we started reading her book. The man didnt move one bit. I was getting paranoid. Then his bus came and he left. My point is, may be he didnt realise, may be he did it on purpose, but my over drive mind thought the worst and I was shielding R from him all the time!

Its very saddening that I have started living like this 😦 I dont want to. I dont want to lose my trust in fellow human beings like this. Thats just not right!

Journomuse , someone I have been in touch with, even when she moved out of the maximum city to the capital city, sent across this piece to me. She has given me permission to publish it on my blog. It got me a lump in my throat when I read it. But isn’t this the reality?

==========

Build me a glass cage,
Scour the world to make it beautiful,
Carpets of fur, pillows of feather, clothes of satin,
Make me pretty and vain,
Oh and secure too,
Here’s the gold lock with rubies studded.

Build me a glass cage,
So you see me but can’t touch,
They say the roof can’t be open to the skies,
Lest the birds swoop to wound me with their claws,
The air could be poisoned,
So secure me in vacuum.

Build me a glass cage,
Confiscate the stones,
Build a bigger cage and another one.
Let my voice be drowned,
Let my wishes be damned,
I’m too pretty to be free,
Too precious to be left open,

May I make a plea?
If the cage is big enough, can She come in too?
Build Us a glass cage,
We know not how to want any more.

Copyright – Journomuse

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About R's Mom

Not-so-new-mom
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34 Responses to Of Being Disillusioned By My City!

  1. Journomuse says:

    We can’t lose faith. Faith is the basic building block of any relationship..including one you have with the city. Our generation can retain little hope that the mindset of men will change and we can be treated as individuals and not objects to feel territorial over or subjugated through raw animal power. But I hope we become the teachers for generations to come about how the woman’s place is not at the hearth while the man goes to the field. Both have to have the freedom feel safe to venture into the fields, toil and head home to the hearth…The worst form of consolation is when people tell me Mumbai is still ‘comparatively safer’ than other metros. How does comparative safety console those whose girls are getting eve-teased or who are being violated? Safety cannot be comparative, it has to be a holistic feeling.

    • R's Mom says:

      Firstly, thanks for letting me publish your piece!

      Yes, I do agree that the feeling of safety needs to be holistic and not in comparison, but unfortunately in India, we seem to feel saf’er’ in certain cities as compared to others!

      I hope so too, that the future generation realises that a human is a human, irrespective of the gender!

  2. I feel bad, I feel the pain, my heart ache and I feel angry and helpless and sorry. I am a coward and selfish, one of the reasons we chose to live here.I am no longer proud to say I am from a country where women is treated with no respect and should always live in fear. I have a post in draft ..

  3. summerscript says:

    My mother generally asks me to be safe while coming late from office. Since last december, she gets a mini heartattack and starts imagining things if I dont pick up her call even when I am working from home!
    I can understand how you and RD must be feeling.
    It is so sad RM. I want to write some positive incident here and I have been thinking for 15 mins, still I have got nothing. 😦

  4. Jazz says:

    😦 Do you think I share the apt piece RM with credits to Journomuse ?!

  5. The poem brought a lump to my throat, too. Thanks for sharing it, RM!

    Incidents like the gangrape happen everywhere, not only in Delhi or Mumbai. Some of these issues are made public, many are not. I don’t think there is any place in the entire world where such stuff does not happen. It is sad, but yes, we as women do need to be wary at all times. We need to be on the lookout all the time for potential stalkers and rapists. I get disgusted, too, at times when I have looked at a male suspiciously, and he has turned out to be a completely decent person. That is the bane of being a modern woman in a modern world, I guess.

    Your post reminded me of this post: http://dewdropdream.com/2013/04/07/the-other-side-of-the-story/ Have you read it?

  6. Sumana says:

    Very true RM. Again i do not want to be gender biased but if my little girl is the last drop in her school bus, i ask her a 100 questions. Go to think either we are being over protective or going insane.

  7. Shweta says:

    I was posted in Bangalore by my Company in 2006, I stayed there for total of around seven months.. I got my first vacation back home (Delhi) after spending two months there.. I had planned a surprise and hadn’t informed my parents when I will be coming, I reached Delhi in the morning but I knew by the time I’ll be home my parents would have left for their respective offices.. So after leaving my stuff at home I went straight to my Mom’s Office in Connaught Place using the metro.
    It’s a small walk of around 5 mins from the metro station to her office.. And I had been so embarrassed and self conscious for those 5 mins that I will never forget it.. Each Guy was checking my out from head to toe… I thought may be I had been in such a hurry that i must be wearing something upside down or something wrong.. but that was not the case..

    I had forgotten how it felt to be walking the roads of Delhi in the two months I had spent away from it… And this is the time of the day when roads are crowded with office goers/shop keepers etc etc..

    I don’t feel Safe walking in this city once its dark even if I am with my Husband not because I don’t trust him enough that he can protect me but because I don’t trust the IN-HUMANS around !!

  8. Sreetama says:

    I saw very nasty reaction of people after the incident. Delhi people beaming that it is not the only city, Kolkata & Mumbai have joined the league. Marathis & North Indians blaming Biharis, Biharis blaming North Indians & Marathis and so on and Hindus blaming Muslims and vice versa. What is the point in the blame game? As long as there is no solution, which I now feel is impossible. Girls have to take safety in their own hands. I am feeling really hopeless now. Nothing can change the mindset of such perverts. So best is to take precautions, have pepper sprays ready, give self defense lessons to kids, avoid dingy dilapidated places, modes of transports as much as possible though that cannot guarantee you anything as rapes can happen even at your home by your relatives/acquaintances, still. If you are a vegetarian, you cannot expect the tiger to be vegetarian too. That is what is happening in this case.

    • R's Mom says:

      Exactly its not about your city is safer than mine or something…ITs just about pure safety..I feel awful that someone needs to carry self protecting pepper sprays even in normal life…its so frustrating…but is there a solution?

  9. Prachi says:

    Everybody talks about hope for a better and safer India…but where is that…???
    I just read comments of few surrounding shopkeepers published in rediff stating the things like dressing sense of girls, no need to work outside home, why to enter a deserted area bla bla bla…
    this clearly shows that our mindsets still belong to that old era….only time has progressed and nothing else…!!! No doubt that gender equality exists only on paper.
    How are we going to build a safer place for our children and ourselves with these kind of mindsets around ? I am clueless.

  10. It is not about any city in particular, RM. It is about India.It is about each and every person here. About their attitudes which need a big overhauling.

    When I was in Madras doing my internship, I used to travel at 10 and 11 in the night on my two wheeler. Of course, we all knew we were taking a chance. My mom would be on call with me until I reached home. This, every single day. Stares and gropes have been common from my 8th standard on public buses. I took these as normal those days. But now, I repent for being a coward. At least, I have the knowledge and courage to tell my children not to be a coward like me.

    I think the problem with us is that we are defensive lot. When Rose’s account of sexual molestation in India got published, defensive-accounts kept pouring in from all quarters. There were scores of shares for such defenses on my FB timeline, that I almost lost count of it. And, all of this shared by girls (now women) who have been going through the gropes and stares from men. IMHO, the first step in solving in a problem is to accept that a problem exists. If we keep defending ourselves saying, ‘The mistaken identity of the a culturally rich country’ and such like, I don’t think we will ever sort out the problem of sexual harassment. Period.

    Sorry for the rant, eh?!

    • R's Mom says:

      no its not a rant…I so agree…everyone went all Indian while reading Rose’s piece..but most people dont realise that there are like you and me who seem to be harrassed and yet we have never taken action….its like a part of the routine for us..and when someone points it out, there is any outcry…When I read Rose’s piece I thought she exaggerated, but then I remembered that this comes from a woman who has felt absolutely safe all her life and every stare and gesture which is common for us (We got used to it is it?), is a kind of harrassment for her…its sad, really really sad..

  11. Ramya says:

    Really RM… nowadays its only FEAR FEAR everywhere.. Just feel so helpless… and upon that reading the news and the incidents’ elaboration, it makes me shiver.. shiver so much that i fear seeing any guy straight afraid that he may b trying to do something 😦

  12. Sam says:

    I have been thinking about this issue too.. to write or to not to write….When I think about these episodes a bit more. they just scare me .. make me exaggerate in my mind every move a man makes when I am travelling alone… makes me feel angry and helpless many times..
    yesterday might I had to travel from Chennai to Blore in train.. there were min 5 men who had started and there was one who digged into my eyes and stared long enough to make me go mad:)..
    the worst part he was in my compartment (just the next seat) and i had to stratgeise on where I should sleep .. how i should scream for help..u know all the mindless thoughts..paranoid.. waste of me and my mind!.. anyways i reached safely:).. the more the incidents, i feel men are becoming more brave seeing the way these cases are handled.. and women feel more unsafe:(..

    • R's Mom says:

      oh hugs Sam…It must have felt awful..the problem is most of us dont know how to respond and we keep silent…Its high time we started to give back to people who un nerve us!

  13. I don’t agree with dividing the issue of women safety between Delhi and Mumbai or any other city for that matter. By all means no city big or small (including villages) is safe for women in India. It also depends on how you prefer to define safety? If safety for one means not getting raped, or if it means not being followed or not being stared at or not being groped or touched at inappropriate places.
    A global poll conducted by TrustLaw, a legal news service run by Thomson Reuters Foundation, surveyed 213 gender specialists from across the world and ranked India ‘worst place to be a woman.’ There are numerous other polls and surveys.
    Our problem lies in the fact that we have to divide everything and anything on the basis of something or the other. If not religion or gender, be it city. I am sure that you always felt safe in your city, but maybe you were not aware of the rapes, molestations or child abuse in areas you wouldn’t dare frequent.
    Please do not trivialize this issue by making it about your city or mine. It is a sincere request.

    • R's Mom says:

      I didnt mean to trivialize the issue. I apologise if it came across that way. I do agree its not about being Delhi or Mumbai and its more about the whole of India.

      What I wrote was from my own personal experience. I have never been in Delhi for long enough. (Visited twice for office work this year, for a couple of days, that too with colleagues) Hence, I didnt comment on the Delhi situation. I wrote the piece because the Mumbai incident shook me to the core, may be because it was so close home. I dont know.

      I again apologise and repeat, trivialising the issue was not my intention at all!

  14. Ashwathy says:

    Same here. One of the reasons I moved to Mumbai from Delhi especially during my singledom days was because of the sheer amount of freedom I had here. I felt free with the lack of stares and the lack of returning home at a certain time. But now, I am not so sure any more. It’s really really sad….

  15. Not just Mumbai, all places are not as safe as they used to be. Robbery, theft, crimes against women, everything has increased. There are many reasons for this. Improving the situation calls for many things to change. We have to collectively drive that change. It will be tough, but it’s possible if we all work relentlessly to ensure that our country will be a better place by the time our kids grow up.

    About the incident at the bus stop: why didn’t you request the young man to shift slightly?

  16. preethi says:

    I hear you and RD, I felt the same way when i visited Worli sea face, a place I had been to a million times as a teenager alone with my friends. This visit so many years later, seemed malignant, as if all the groups of men just sitting around there were to be suspected somehow.Something I probably did not even notice so many years ago when I simply took the bus to worli, hung out with friends and returned pretty late. And my parents ( super-protective by all standards simply did not care too much, pre- cell phone and everything!) Not sure if things were any different back then ( I mean which woman has escaped “eve-teasing” in mumbai?) or that we are more aware of these incidents now.

    • R's Mom says:

      yaa…you are right..may be it happened even then..and its only now that the media is making such incidents public…I dont know 😦 but it scares me to bring up my child in this city now!

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