Did he see me? Did he recognise me? The last I saw him,
he had long hair. But that doesn’t make a difference – it is him, Kalpesh,
my former “boss”. And he is sitting just five feet away from me in the crowded
metro rail, reading a book. What is he reading? Urgh. I have to crane my
neck – ah, reading Twilight in public. Still very bold, I see. Still very
I try to shuffle out of the crowd and move to another coach, but it is just too
difficult to disturb the intricate human Lego structure that has been created.
I’ll have to wait for the next station when the metro will disgorge some of
this human excrement. I draw my dupatta
over my head and put on my
sunglasses. The bloke standing next to me gives me a leering smile. I sneer at
him. A middle-aged aunty looks up with distaste at my sunglasses, obviously
wondering what the heck is wrong with me for wearing goggles inside a metro
coach, but I ignore that. The bearded portly man standing next to me seems to
want to feel me up; I pinch the hand attempting to make contact with my thighs
and he flinches. That turns out to be my undoing.
the heck!” he shouts at me. The cheek of him to try and victimise himself.
Touch.” I put as much authority as I can into those two words.
am NOT touching you!” he screams again. Everyone in the coach turns to look at
us. Ah, joy. Just the thing I need
when I’m trying to escape attention. From the corner of my eyes, I see Kalpesh
looking my way. Great.
dude. If you weren’t touching me, I was pinching a hand on my thigh. I don’t
see how you could have felt it.” Caught him there.
looks around. The women give him a disgusted look. The men shake their heads.
They all lose interest. My “molester” shifts a few paces and gives me a dirty
look. I show him my middle finger.
station Patel Chowk. Next station Patel Chowk.” The metro announcement system breaks
in and diffuses the tension in the coach. Some people get out, some more get in.
Is that you?” Perfect. Kalpesh is standing
next to me. How the heck did he manage to pierce the chakravyuh that I couldn’t? Urgh. Men.
stare at his dry brown eyes. They still feel cold and calculating. What does he
want now? “Oh.” I look away instantly.
silly woman, where have you been? You unfriended me on Facebook, blocked me on
Google, Twitter and WhatsApp, even LinkedIn! Why?” He looks incredulous. Quite
some guts he’s got, talking to me as if he never did anything wrong to me. How can
men play the victim all the time? Pretend it’s the other person’s fault?
thought it was better that way. After all, one doesn’t always like being
friends with their own rapist.”
manage to turn a few heads near me my way, again. I look at them all with pure
annoyance. Mind your own bloody business,
nishi, nishi. Let’s not talk about that, eh? You don’t want to attract
unnecessary attention here.” His voice is hushed, and no one can hear him
except me. Fuck you.
am not talking about ANYTHING to you, Kalpesh. Just leave. Me. Alone.”
come on, we were drunk. Things happened. You consented that night. I did not
rape you. You just don’t remember…,” he continues in that annoyingly low, condescending
tone. Just like the one his advocate had used while questioning me in the
court. ‘Maybe you don’t remember, because
you had a drink too many?’ ‘No, you retard, this man gave me LSD. He mixed it
in my drink. Judge, doesn’t this fellow understand English when it’s screamed
in public?’ ‘Your honour, blood reports of the victim do not show traces of any
drugs, except alcohol. You have the evidence in front of you, Exhibit B.’ ‘The
reports are fudged, Your Honour! They did not test my blood the next day, they
tested it a week later and faked the date!’ ‘Please calm down, Ms. Nishika. You
have to remember that you are representing yourself, and you need to prevent
your anger and personal dislike from clouding your judgement or interrogation.’
‘But Your Honour…’ ‘Your Honour, I think Ms. Nishika needs some rest. She’s
memory leaves me fuming, and I finish Kalpesh’s sentence – “I don’t remember because
you fucking gave me a psychedelic drug, retard.” I speak louder than I want to and
hush a few more heads with my angry stare.
we need to talk. Not here. Where are you getting down?” Oh, now we are trying
to be friendly, are we? Condescension. That humiliating patronising tone. What
am I, a dumb child? Go to fucking hell.
am NOT talking to you, Kalpesh. I have nothing to say to you anymore. We
finished all the talk on the court premises. I was done with you, and all men,
for that matter, the moment they acquitted you and ordered a year at the
shrinkhouse for me.” By now everyone is interested in our conversation. I show
my middle finger in the direction of the general public. Some try to stop
staring but look from the corner of the eyes anyway. Others turn away, some
continue to gawk inconsiderately. Bloody
perverts. Enjoying the show.
metro announcement system blares again. “Agla station Rajiv Chowk. Next station
think you have to get down here, Kalpesh? Please. Get the fuck off and don’t
you dare even look back.” I draw myself up to my full height, staring daggers at
Kalpesh, and he backs off, irate.
You always thought too much of yourself. Fucking whore,” Kalpesh hollers as he
exits the metro. Ha ha. Abuse when you have no answer. Bastard.
aunty who thought I was batty for wearing sunglasses stands up. “Good for you,
beta. Don’t take nonsense from men. You’re very brave. I will keep you in my
prayers.” I am taken aback. I smile coyly. She lifts her hand and I gingerly bend
my head to allow her to touch my forehead and bless me. A college student who
was keenly listening to my irksome conversation with Kalpesh smiles broadly at
me and nods, as if she understood. A balding man with a sling laptop bag pats my
shoulder softly. My anger melts into the genial air around me. I sigh and beam
station New Delhi. Next station New Delhi.” I prepare to disembark and the
crowd parts just a little to allow me to walk to the door.