I'm walking home alone through a well lit street at 6:30 pm. Its not late but its dark coz its winters here in NZ.There's hardly anyone on the street. Its not a flash suburb, so I have my phone and belongings tucked in back pack. I'm too scared to lose them. No music for me either..I like to be in the moment to feel safe! Its only a 7 minute walk to where my friend is waiting for me.
I'm coming back home from Crossfit. So I have bright tights, a hoodie and humongous running shoes on! Tired as hell from a killer workout. I look average- No makeup, no skin show, plain jane!
I hear a faint sound of someone talking in a shop few feets away. Oh! Its that Indian shop!
Oh! Someone's talking in Punjabi. Suddenly, the world around feels safer. Its my people. I'd be all right. I pass that shop and there's someone waving farewells to the shop-owner and I pass him just as he's about to get out of the shop and into his car. Car parked right outside the shop.
Two steps past the shop, I hear...
Yo babe..Looking hot there! Sup?? I can drop you home. Come..I can drop you home!
All this in my mother tongue. I can't believe it. Its a mature man..looks 35ish. He must be talking to someone in his car. It can't be me. I turn back. Its me! and suddenly I regret turning back!
My hearts racing and my mind goes blank. I can't think of anything. My phone is in the back pack and I can't even muster the courage to stop and take it out. I want to call *111 ..I really want to. But I have no idea why I'm not doing it. He sees my changing expressions. I'm clearly pissed but he takes it a yes and stops his car on the other side of the road and says something. I can't hear him well. All this while I'm walking with hardly anyone in the street. It's a maroon Mazda that I didn't even think to take the number of! Why o why? I don't know!
After 6.5 years in NZ, I've been eve teased for the first time. And suddenly this land that I call my home makes me feel sick to the stomach. Wasn't this the reason why I loved NZ over India? Wasn't it my safe haven? How many times did I come back from holiday back home and felt that relief of not being constantly watched, constantly alert and constantly judged! This is why I called it home. And to have one of my own people shatter my world ..its made me uneasy. Very uneasy!
Things I wanted to do-
- Stop him. Slap him.
- Dial 111 and report him.
- Abuse him. Answer him back.
- Sit with him and ask him WHY? I want to know his background. Why does he not respect the other gender? How does he have such audacity? Why no fear? This mature man...who was laughing and talking animatedly to the shop guy..like normal men do and suddenly seconds later ..he's hitting on a girl. Like its instantaneous. Like the switch comes natural to him! Like he's done this many times before. Like he's a repeat offender.
What I actually do-
- NOTHING! A big fat nothing. My mind gave away, Adrenaline rushed in all directions. I feel useless!
And what do I do few minutes later when I'm back to the safety of my own men...I feel angry. I feel angry at myself. I could have taught him a memorable lesson. I could've broken his pattern. I could've saved some other girl from this ordeal. But alas he got away one more time!
I feel amazed at myself. Haven't I dealt with this countless times before. Wasn't it a norm back home? Eve-teasing, stalking, groping..I've had it all then why just a few words by one Punjabi man shattered me to the core? Was my belief in men shattered again? Is NZ not my safe haven anymore?
I'm all about positivism and as I write I'm thinking of countless amazing men I know. They care for me..they love me. I'm a wife of an amazing man who lets me dream and run free. But then why am I questioning the whole male race? Again!
An angry one today!