By Kriti Gupta
1. When you were in a crowded metro and you felt a hand brush against your ass. It stopped on the left cheek and there was some light grabbing. You glared at the guy the hand belonged to. He looked back cockily and said “Galti se ho gaya madam.” Surely, he would have shown some sign of guilt if he had done it intentionally. You shake it off and figure you must have imagined it.
2. That time at work, when your male co-worker said, “Wow, you’ve lost weight. We should get coffee, outside of the stuffy office walls, you know. I haven’t seen you in so long, and then you go ahead and lose weight.” As his eyes went up and down your apparently thinly-fleshed bones, you wondered how he made it sound like the purpose of your fitness regime was to get him alone on a coffee date. Was he was the voyeur in your head that you were trying to appeal to? You shook your head and thought “He’s just giving me a compliment. I’m my own voyeur.” You politely declined the coffee.
3. You wore shorts and a T-shirt and walked in your colony, a place you’d lived in for 20+ years. An uncle came up and said, “Papa theek? Mummy theek? Achha beta, tumhare bhale ke liya bolta hun, colony main shorts nahi pehenni chahiye. Achha nahi lagta.” For a second, you wondered if he was looking at you with lasciviousness. Was he imagining what your ass would look like naked? He repeated, “Tumhare bhale ke liye bol raha hoon.” You believed him, dismissed those thoughts, thanked him and continued walking in your safe neighbourhood.
4. When you were eight years old, you liked to twirl and your teacher told you it was because your skirt flew up. The teacher blamed you for trying to entice the boys. You didn’t know what the word ‘entice’ meant. And the boys weren’t looking at you, they were too busy examining their boogers. But you didn’t disagree because adults knew better. You apologised. The next day, after you narrated the incident to your mom, your skirt length was longer and you were thrilled because then you could twirl all you wanted. Without en-ti-cing.
5. That time on your birthday when you had a little too much to drink and your friend said he’d drop you home. On the way back, in his car, he tried to kiss you. And you tried to say no. The next day, when you confronted him, he told you that you were into it. That you wanted it. Your own thoughts were a blur from the alcohol, so you believed him. He’d been such a good friend, for so long after all. Why would he lie now?
6. After your first period, you were scared. You came home and didn’t find your mother there, so you waited with tightly-crossed legs, hoping that the blood wouldn’t seep through your white school skirt. Your uncle came home and asked you what was wrong. Your blurted it out through a curtain of tears and he asked you to take your underwear off. He stuck two fingers in and out and examined them — Yep, there’s blood. It made you uncomfortable. Having a period is an awful and shameful thing, you thought. He went on to get you sanitary napkins and ice cream. You were happy then, because he solved your problems. And because ice cream is happiness.
7. Your husband wanted sex and you weren’t in the mood. He said he wanted it anyway and climbed on top of you. This happened often and you didn’t feel too great about it. But you figured it was alright because it’s legal, because it’s your husband. It probably happened all the time, with every woman and it’s not a big deal. This is what marriage is about, you thought.
8. You went for an interview and the man you were meeting said that he was running late for a dinner so could you come with him to interview on the way. In the car, you were professional and sharp. You tried really hard and were relieved when he said he was impressed and wanted to keep the conversation going. He asked if you’d like to join him for the party he had been running late for. As a date, he joked. You really needed a job and didn’t know if he would get offended, so you agreed. He introduced you as his girlfriend to all his friends, which you didn’t like. But you realised later that you had been overthinking. Later, you got the job!
Kriti Gupta is digital growth hacker who writes in her spare time. This dichotomy of function and passion leads often to soul-crushing existentialism which she escapes by using clichés like water sports, music and denial.