In the midst of a bright night,
I walked in a city that never sleeps,
apparently that night it did,
when I ran for my life with half a torn shirt
across a lie for a person, covered in khaaki
and I wondered if he would help,
until I realised he did not.
when I was cat called for wearing
shorts above my knees.
I was recovering from anxiety about my imperfect body.
With eyes hovering over my body,
without my consent, I felt naked.
Violated and scarred, I ran home wore a kurta
and yet, I felt the gaze of men around me, rip my clothes apart.
When was I going to be safe.
Helplessness had taken over me
and I didn't know what being frozen with fear was until a stranger grabbed my behind,
I felt his touch linger for as long as he wanted,
and I couldn't say a word.
Was it my fault to step into the men's compartment.
I thought I was safe.
I was shamed for wearing something completely normal,
something I was comfortable in because that's not how girls dress.
Fear lingers around me, inside me,
but most of all, harassment lingers around me too.
When I'm told not to do something because I'm a woman, not to dress in a way because it will attract another person,
when I'm asked to shut up and
be tolerant of the bullshit because
You don't want to be a victim of acid attacks.
I am harassed !
Shamed for being human
Shamed for my choices of clothes.
Everyday I am harassed by the ideology our society lives by.
But I am harassed by myself too
when I gave in, hoping the nightmares would end.
When I walk around everyday, conditioning myself, telling myself what to wear what not to wear. What to say what not to say.
Setting rules for myself, ones that if I should dare to break,
I'll be raped and harrased and shamed for being able to make a free choice about the simple choices like time, clothes and words.
Where do I run. -Marlyn Pereira