New submission from Devika

Today, I was followed by an Innova that had an orange flag on it – the one with a lotus embossed on all that orange. Yup, that’s right – the one that’s recently all over the place.

My regular walk from the metro station to work – in broad daylight. They stopped the car right next to me while I was walking past one of the many hotel entrances in this area. I heard them talk among themselves and laugh about something and it seemed strange, but then I assumed they stopped to get down at the hotel and so I walked on, unsuspecting. As I walked ahead, the car appeared suddenly and slowly trailed by my side. I was on the phone – I looked towards them – maybe they needed directions to some place, yes? Nope. They checked me out from top to bottom and then said something to each other in a language I didn’t quite comprehend. (Hey! Stop thinking about what I was wearing – Its 9 degrees and I’m walking to work – OF COURSE I’m ‘appropriately dressed’ and of course I’m ‘covered’ from head to toe. Seriously, shame on anyone that even bothered to think about that at this (or any) point.)Then the guy at the passenger seat said something to me, again in a language I didn’t understand. But that’s the thing – you don’t need to understand the language because the tone and those disgusting eyes (AND the body language) are more than enough. He implied for me to get into the car while the guy driving continued staring at me. I glared at them and at once reached in my bag for my pepper spray- the pepper spray I’ve been warned to carry if I want to be safe, time and again. They murmured something more, looked me up and down, once again, and drove away. It didn’t end just right there – as they drove away, the same guy strained his neck as much as is humanly possible to continue looking at me. With my half efficient vision, I tried to memorize the car number. But I still can’t be sure. Can’t forget those eyes, though. And the stares that came with them.

No, this isn’t any different from the regular street harassment we face on a daily basis. In fact, maybe, I “got lucky”. It “could’ve been worse”. This is what so many women face everyday, everyhwere. Most women have it worse than I do – so no, it isn’t that different and it isn’t an extraordinary incident. I should, maybe, “deal with it”. Except, to me, it is extraordinary. To me, it matters. And for me, this incident was slightly different from the rest of the times I’ve been harassed on the streets – in my eyes, these were state approved goons. That orange flag swayed, in all its glory, as the car drove away while I stood there defeated, once again, in more ways than one. ยท