The Guy I Met in the Metro.
The Guy I Met in the Metro.
“Sister , do you mind exchanging places?”
Bemused I stood amidst smelly shirts and adamant heads, unable to figure out that the voice was meant for me. But when I did, the first thing I noticed was his hair, much longer than the girl next to him. He was sleek, mostly like my batch-mates from the university.
In a jiffy, I shook my head and we exchanged places. I took the corner near the gate right next to the lady he accompanied.
Five minutes earlier…
I was late for my university examination. Having missed the 9.05 metro, I was left with no time to reach the allotted examination centre. I had somehow rushed through the queue, down the escalator and managed to push myself as the door slid open. Metro railways in my city work perfectly fine but using it as a means of commutation during the office hours is a dreaded task.
Since I had somehow managed to reach the metro station in a hurry, I had missed the door to the ladies section. No matter what, I had sneaked inside the metro with intentions to tackle the crowd right through smelly shirts and protruding bellies.
“For any lady travelling alone, it is not a safer option.”
I could hear my mom’s voice fretting around this.
I remember how I had tried all practical justifications on equality to make her believe that we belonged to the 21st century but all in vain. An ordeal every Indian girl would relate to.
Missing the special section devoted to us did not promise good news for a thirty minutes ride. My mother would have said.
But it hardly mattered to me. The crowd did not frighten me and the place seemed anything but normal. The bag-pack I carried was right in front of me and I struggled to hold myself straight against the innumerable jerkings. It was like any other ride to the university except that I was nervous too.
But minutes into a song that played on my earphones, it felt like someone nudged my shoulder. And as I struggled with my earphones amidst a crowd that kept falling on each other, I decided to keep them back. I stretched my hand to put them back into the purse and felt another nudge right as I pulled up. Again, it felt nothing but normal.
“Maybe the nervousness and the agitation had come to me in the worse way”, I thought!
So I let it go and went back to holding the hanger right on top of my head. But it happened again, and this time, in a way that I hadn’t experienced ever before. Maybe even a little inappropriate to believe in broad daylight. Once. Twice.
And every face I saw was as old as my father is.
But then, what moved at the back? Why did it feel like someone touched me as if to pull me closer? Was someone trying to lean in and camouflage my movements?
Visibly irritated by the constant nudges, I turned left, I turned right and I turned back searching for the culprit.
Just when he made that call,
“Sister, do you mind exchanging places?”
“Yes”, I said.
It’s not that I was a girl in distress who needed help.
It’s not that I am incapable of dealing with something that all of us are battling daily.
It’s not that I would have endured anything that is not an outcome of my fault.
In a country that thrives to develop and break free inhibitions, isn’t it in our genes to face, to stand and to raise our voice against injustice? We’ve all been raised to serve ourselves our own safety in a world that hardly cares. And I ought to do the same.
So what he did barely mattered.
Or maybe it did?
And maybe it does?
He could have been a mere spectator.
A silent spectator.
He could have shut his eyes and pretended to be blind.
He could have denied being a part of anything that might have happened or my reaction on it.
I wouldn’t have been amazed. ‘Cause that’s what I’ve grown up watching.‘
But what he did is what we never talk about and I could never thank him either.
So to that guy, I met in Kolkata metro at 9.15 am on 2nd June 2016.
Not for protecting a girl from a situation that shames the society.
But for exchanging places to know how it feels.