Saturday, March 1, 2008


I still remember that trip in the bus when i got down seething with anger and humiliation, looking back at the sea of leering faces wondering who it was...(It was nothing compared to what most go through but enough for me to get down immediately at the next stop.)That was my last trip on any bus. It was the first time i had used the public transport in Delhi, inspite of being told not to.I was young then and did not want to feel dependant on the car or my husband for everything. This incident was a shock to me, coming as i had from a sheltered life. Relating this incident to a local friend, she informed me that pins, and sharp objects formed part of the necessary weaponry, that every girl must use for her defence. This is what every girl using the public transport goes through. That was the day I felt the weight of the shackles...the shackles of my gender. They were always present in other forms, only i had never noticed it.

Since then i find my safety in crowds, in my vehicle and in the reassuring presence of a male. I knew now never to venture in lonely areas, never to walk out alone after dark, to always take care of how i dress. I even got used to it.

And so it continued, till i reached Singapore. This place is amazing. It gives you that feeling of security. I found myself using the public transport without fear. I cycle around and don't feel intimidated by strangers in a lonely park.

I savor the freedom to dress the way i want, the freedom to walk where I choose, ALONE, the freedom to be myself. It is a freedom which empowers me. It saddens me that an alien country gave me back what my own couldn't - my right as a woman. Strangely i feel empowered here...but i know it will only last till that day when i go back...

but having tasted this freedom, would i start binding those shackles all over again...?

This was in reponse to the writer's prompt...empowerment. i wanted to write about something else but ended up writing something more personal.


tumblewords said...

An interesting story - It always seems to me that individual safety is a right rather than a freedom and can even acknowledge that I am wrong in that thought. But to find one's safety at stake for no reason must be terrifying, indeed, and I'm glad you've found empowerment in another place!

Prats said...

This was a way of giving yourself opwer of the freedom to feel free....nice one here

Rambler said...

I guess this is one of the things men would never get to know about, never get to feel the pain that it is

Preethi said...

Suma - how true.. I never step on to public transport in Chennai. I stay in the isolated confines of my air-conditioned car. Yet here I walk and run and use the public transport without a second thought. But still would never do it at night here.. downtown sucks big time in this country too :)

Preethi said...

By the way come read my take


Jeques said...

I'm sorry about your experience ~ but I have to say some shit happens everywhere, don't feel too bad about your country.

It is good to know you found a temporary shelter in a foreign country, I feel the same way living here in Chicago finding a certain freedom away from the Philippines. My country have some flaws, too. But what country doesn't? I still love my country in spite its flaws.

I wish you well.

~ Jeques

rebecca said...

thank you for writing this and reminding us again that the freedoms many women have in many countries around the world, are not worldwide. i was raised with the belief that women are not less, but equal. how fortunate and blessed my life has been by mere origin of birth.

i am happy you finally found the freedoms you rightly deserved.


Rob Kistner said...

This was very touching... I hope all your days ahead will bring you the spirit of freedom, and the gift of peace! ;)

anthonynorth said...

An empowering journey. It is a shame that so many places can alienate their own people to the point that they feel safer elsewhere.

keith hillman said...

A truly heartfelt piece. Even here in the UK I wouldn't feel comfortable about letting a female friend walk alone after dark.

Joy said...

Well said Suma. I know what you are talking about. I used to feel like taking an iron rod and hitting.

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