Alert: This turned out to be a long post.
As I start thinking about writing on this topic of 'Celebrating Myself', I realized that indeed it is a difficult theme to elaborate. We all must have celebrated so many things & events in our life be it numerous birthdays, anniversaries, our success, other's failure(!!), different milestones of life etc. but the moments when we honestly celebrated being us is quite few.
So, grabbing this opportunity, I want to recall an incident of my life when I celebrated myself . That was not very significant incident but yes, it gave me that confidence & self-esteem which I carry on my nose (as people say... :)) till today. So, I would just rewind the scenario when I was 21 years old. As a kid and a teenager I always had been the Ms. Nobody in my school or coaching centre or my college. With my below average looks, plump body and average academic performance I was hardly to be noticed and kept a low key in any public gatherings. Sometimes my confidence level would hit the ground when I see other girls/boys of my age proving their mettle in academics or sports or other extra curricular activities or might be in wooing boyfriends .
Anyways, coming back to that incident, it was another regular day when I was on my way to BCA classes. That time I generally used to drive my two-wheeler to college but for some reasons I was using public transport that day. So, I took the shared auto which would drop me till a certain stop after which I had to take a cycle rickshaw. In Allahabad ( my home town) these shared autos are any female's nightmare and a perfect environment for sickening gropers or eve-teasers. So, I was sitting at the window-corner seat when a very well-dressed young man boarded that auto from the nearby engineering college stop and occupied the seat next to me. He had a big bag with him which he kept on his lap.
Soon, he started the conversation with me by asking the shortest way to reach railway station. He told me that he is from Delhi, had come for some entrance exams in my city and would be boarding his train the same night. He was kind of a talkative person and started talking how small my city is and how the conservative mentality of Allahabad is suffocating. Although he was a stranger but I also chatted with him to kill the time. But, after some time I realized that he was way too close sitting next to me in spite of less passengers in that auto ( 3 guys were sitting in the seat facing us and only two of us are seated in other seat which is generally meant for 4 people). I ignored this, and then again after sometime I felt his hand on my body when the auto took a sharp turn. One part of my brain started sending alert signals but the other part asked me not to over-react and be quiet. I put my folder in between us but it was of no use.That sicko very proficiently used his bag as a hideout for his loitering hand and groped me ...this time his hand was on my breasts!!!
Moreover, that leach is continuously talking with me while doing so!!.My stop was approaching,my brain was working peculiarly, I pushed his hand with my elbow, got down at my stop, paid fare to the driver and then I just said to that guy 'Listen'. As soon as he peeped out of that auto door, I slapped him!!!.....Yes I hit him on his face....He was dumbstruck. The auto was about to move but the driver stopped ...the other passengers were astonished. This slap was quite unexpected from a small town docile girl. I asked the auto driver to move on and went away to get a rickshaw. Trembling with anger and the outburst I took the rickshaw. I was still not able to believe that I have hit somebody. Other than hitting innocent blows during sibling fights, I had never ever hit anyone in my life.
It was not the first time I faced this sexual harassment but I don't know what triggered to replace my usual mute 'ignore it' reaction to this violent outburst. As my anger settled down a very feel-good feeling engulfed my mind. I was feeling so better than those incidents when I chose to keep quiet and was scared of being judged and labeled in case if I raise my voice against these sexual harassment.
As soon as I reached home I called( it was land-line phone connection days....) both of my best friends and told them about it. When my parents came to know about this they just told me that I could have not been violent but raising a voice and public disgrace would have worked. I felt happy with the fact that they were not advising so because I am a girl but were just concerned about their child's well being ( My mom said what if that guy had been a localite and retaliated with a big gang or acid attack!!!). Anyways, in the evening both my friends came at my place and congratulated me. One of them ( who is at present my hubby) got pastries for me to 'celebrate'. Soon, other fiends also dropped by and we discussed & discussed that matter.I felt at the top of the world.
After this incident, I never kept quiet while being groped or harassed or even being treated biased. Sometimes with an elbow push in DTC bus, or with a stern stare till the time the other person feels uncomfortable or with being vocal and candid about my right to information at my workplace I carried on. My personality also went through a drastic change gradually after this incident with my new found confidence. From an earlier Ms. nobody in college I became Ms. Indispensable in my professional life. I handled double of my work- responsibilities with sheer confidence & presence of mind. I enjoyed being myself. It is not that my looks have improved or I have acquired this zero-sized figure or shone in academic field....I was the same person but now equipped with my persona who is not scared to express her opinions, likes & dislikes ,ambitions or thought process and above all is able to give it back if any 'nonsense' comes her way.
As today I continue to celebrate myself, just being 'Me' ( which I know is very unladylike as per the stereo-types)....still I regret why I had not slapped all those molesters, gropers, flashers or eve-teasers who have earlier trespassed my personal space earlier with their heinous activities.