August 26, 2007
I got up at 7 am. I could hear my mom moaning very slightly. She has been tolerating a muscle pull in her lower back and she is whimpering. I am trying my best to rouse myself. I get off the cot at 7.15 am.
Parents...…..After a certain age they are worse than little kids. Gosh, I never thought I would ever feel like whacking my mom, but now I really want to do it. She has been suffering in pain and refusing every offer of being taken to the doctor. Her constant refrain “What will you all eat? … Who will cook? ... Who will dust? … “. I lost my cool. My temper that had been simmering for 2 days got the better of me and all hell broke loose.
I literally attacked my mom with all rebuttals I could think of and my mouth kept spewing the “well prepared answers” to her retorts. I told her that a bunch of 20 (odd) yr olds and one daddy could survive a day without her.
I finally convinced her, though I felt drained completely at the effort and left to work.
It’s Tuesday and one can’t excuse oneself from work complaining about Monday blues and dawdle along. The launch date has been announced. It’s the 6th of August. Flurry of activity and lots of To Do List’s to be completed. The list suddenly seems to be covering the whole sheet. I wonder where all these things magically appeared.
I mean all the while we keep coding, we do a test review after one module is complete. Still new errors keep appearing often so amidst a very terse atmosphere, the day proceeded. Even taking a break is prone to guilt pangs that I am wasting time when I could have done a little more polishing.
The day goes on………. It’s my birthday on 3rd and I know it’s going to be spent at work. I mean, a birthday is just another day; however I still wished and hoped it could have been a normal day at least.
Leaving Back Home at 8.10 pm
The long Tuesday has come to an end. I left back home. They have dug up all the roads near my office. So I make my way to the main road exercising extreme caution lest I sink my feet into loose earth or slip in one of the many holes dug up in the name of repairs. As I jump across a ditch to get to the other side, which is the main road, I notice 2 men looking in my direction.
I did not give it much thought as my mind was preoccupied with getting a bus soon. I started walking towards the bus stand and suddenly I felt my instincts warning me. Now, I believe firmly that if every one of us hears to that tiny voice in the back of our heads saying/warning/communicating anything, we will avoid a lot of unpleasant experiences. My gut instincts have always been right. And I have learned to listen to it.
Like the time, when one of my colleague immediately after dropping me home, never responded to my calls. And I felt something wrong. Nobody at work believed me when I said something as wrong. They all said he must have slept off. I refused to believe that excuse and had asked my mom to keep trying till she got him. His phone was switched off. We found out he had taken a mini van, rather than continue in the auto after dropping me home. The occupants of the mini van assaulted him and stole his cards, phone and all money he was carrying on his person and left him in the middle of the night on a deserted street. So I always listen to that tiny savior of a voice.
So I looked sideways and sure enough I saw the men walking at a pace slower than mine parallel to me, darting glances constantly at me. The first time in my life that I can recall, I was afraid. I felt fear so unpleasant, my throat started constricting and I was clutching my bag tightly.
I have had an experience before but it was different. I had been walking on a street and some 4 men crossed the road to my side and one of them did a movement with his hand as if ducking. I was outraged and I screamed back at them as to what they thought of themselves. Since I think in English, my question came out in English and I continued glaring at them. I felt no fear, and as expected they moved away from me in a fast pace. I mean they would have been beaten up by the passers by if I had raised alarm. That day too, my heart was beating, but there was a surge of adrenaline. I picked up my bottle of “pepper Spray” the next day to be on the safe side.
But today, I was quite alone and despite it being the main road, there wasn’t much vehicular movement. The men must have felt that fear because they started moving a little closer to me and I saw that they could not have been more than 30. Firstly, I decided to appear less scared despite having my heart beat so painfully against my ribs I thought it would crack. I was nearing the bus stand, and I turned back to see if any buses were coming. I did not want to wait for the bus. I saw a few men standing in the bus stand but no women. The men did not look very friendly nor approachable. I know I am not supposed to judge anybody based on their appearances, but in the state of my nervousness, I was just looking for one kind face. I noticed that the men seemed to have realized that I was afraid and were smirking. I was praying that I get a bus and I did. Another man had crossed over to the bus stand and joined the two men. He was saying something to the effect of not to scare people …. Some bus arrived and I nearly ran into it not bothering where it would go as long as it took me away from that place. I had a fleeting glance at the men who had assembled. They were still staring at me.
The bus conductor was asking me where I wanted to alight. I could not speak for 2 minutes. Trust me, 2 minutes IS a long time. Then I finally asked if it would go to Airport Road. Lucky for me, it was a direct bus. I paid the conductor my change and slowly relaxed. My palms were red with all the force my nails has applied on it. My breathing got back to normal.
I was sitting and analyzing later why it happened. Why was I not in control of the situation as before?. I realized that the men (by not doing anything), but just intimidating me had violated my space. I am better armed now and I have emergency numbers of cops and squads. I will learn Martial arts too.
However I am disappointed. It will be August 15th in a fortnight and things still feel the same in the actual sense.
I believe true freedom will come when any individual (especially a woman) can walk on the roads without having any fear.