It was a sixth standard horrid summer. I already felt like an outcast, what with not knowing Hindi in the linguistically biased area of North Delhi, and not accepting that I had to do certain things to stop men from leering. Walking the bust-stop to house stretch in the sticky summer was enough torment. Trying to avoid men's glares, jeers, and comments, made it a more torrential walk. Every school day, my sister and I would walk, try our pre-teen bests to ignore the ugly, and get home as soon as possible. Every school day was a fight to get home without the feeling of having walked into a pile of vomit and dirt blended into an intolerable concoction. One of those memorable afternoons, we were about two houses away from ours when a sardar on a pale blue scooter and under a bright pink turban chose to ride his scooter really close to us, go ahead about 5 meters, and then turn around to get another round of riding by us. This time however, he chose to whack my very flat chest gleefully as though he had given me the world's most exciting gift. In shock I let the rage rise. I then let my surprise take over and then the slow realization that I was just assaulted in the middle of the afternoon, wearing my “modest” school uniform, at age 11. I remember looking down at my own body and analyzing what I did to invite him. I remember feeling tired, dirty, and tirelessly consumed. I remember trying my damnest to forget. I remember walking down every school day after that day with a contorted face so I would look “ugly”, “unwanted”, and “undesirable”. Two weeks later, a cyclist unzipped himself and asked us to suck on his penis while we walked back home on the bust-stop to house stretch in the sticky dirty summer. I remember adding a limp to my contorted body to make it more undesirable.
Today I can look back and tell some stories that include me glaring back, shouting, crying, admitted, screaming, and most importantly, confronting. Share yours.