I was 12, giggling and cycling with my younger cousin. A man in his late 40s came towards us and gestured us to stop. Thinking he might need help, I stopped and insisted my sister to do the same. The man was drunk, told his slurred actions and words. He asked filthy questions, I did not understand then and answered yes. I was frightened. Suddenly, his phone rang. I pedaled away with my sister. My heart was pounding faster. It scared us so much. I did not understand but remembered his words. Upon reaching home, I felt so safe. I stopped going in that alley.
I was 13, in a park gossiping, laughing, and having fun with my friend. A group of boys was sitting a little far from us. They passed obscene comments and whistled. We held our hands and looked into each other’s eyes, thinking about what we should do. Then, all of them, around seven stood up, stared us with filthy eyes and started coming toward us. We did not turn behind and ran. Our hearts were pounding. We were so terrified then. At that moment, all we desired was to be home, hug our mothers so tightly to calm our racing hearts.
I was 14; standing under a tree with my sister, my brother was playing with his friends a little far from us. A group of people riding on their sputtering motorbikes came around us. Their bikes roared, they laughed loudly, made inappropriate sounds and looked us in the eeriest manner. We trembled. Again, we ran towards our home, which was just a building away.
I was 15, went to a mall with a friend. A man followed us with his friends since we arrived and then, he came towards us and asked my phone number. I denied, but they did not stop following.
I was 16, I was out for a morning walk, I walked past two aunties and men and heard them commenting in nasty words.
These incidents never stopped and unfortunately, they never will. The only thing that changed is, I no more get scared from these instances and instead get infuriated or I don’t care at all.
However, it is disheartening that every girl, as little as 9-year-old, has to grow through this.
My family and friends never fail to warn me about the world.
Every day I am told that this world is not full of good people, stay alert always.
‘Do not be friendly with strangers.’
‘Don’t be out in odd hours.’
‘Don’t trust everyone.’
‘Do not help everyone. They may misinterpret you.’
‘Do not be so reckless.’
‘Why are you not scared?’
A part deep inside me knows that this world is not as good and safe as I think it to be. But I do not want to accept it. Because as long as I do not accept it, there is, still hope of it getting better.
To me, this world is beautiful. And the fun is in looking at everyone with the eyes of love. Looking at everyone as a family. The fun is being enthusiastic about stepping out and traveling the streets that no one visits, the fun is in putting hands over a stranger’s shoulder, irrespective of gender, hearing out their stories and narrating mine. The fun is in learning new things from everyone and teaching them. The fun is in smiling randomly looking at anyone and making him or her smile too. The fun is in helping everyone and accepting thank you-s! The fun is in the late-night walks. The fun is in being careless. Fun is in getting thrilled about traveling alone and not worrying about your safety in your own world, amidst your own people.
I hope, one day, not even a part of me doubts about the goodness of this world and it becomes as good as I see it to be so that my mother needs not to worry about me when I step out of the house for fun. Oh, good new days are about to come!