I recently watched a short movie named ‘First Period‘ which is about how a first period would have been treated if men menstruated instead of women? Would it have been the same way as it is for women today? I really appreciate the director and writers who portrayed this topic in a very clean and simple manner. After watching the movie, it just strike my mind that there are many similar situations which women deal with today but men can never feel the same thing and can never experience the fight that women face in day to day life. One of them is TRAVELING ALONE…………….
I started traveling alone in a very early age because I had to left my home town, my parents for better education. And, from there my experience started which is going on till date. I had deal with situations where I am sitting in the train and all the people around are looking at me. There always seem to have many questions in their eyes, expressions as if I was being judged there for each of my act. I am walking ahead for the washroom, I am coming down from the upper berth, I am lying on my seat, I am eating something, I am purchasing some snacks from a pantry boy. Each of my activities are like observed by other passengers. This happens in buses, sharing auto-rickshaws, on platforms of railway/ bus stations and everywhere where a girl is alone. There is always someone who is scanning your activities as if they have to prepare some report on you. I also experienced traveling with family and with my brothers but the only difference which I observed between traveling alone and with someone was this inspection and surveillance look of co-passengers. One may hardly understand how uncomfortable it can make a girl. She is always with a thought process- if there is something wrong with my clothes, my blanket is covering me properly or not, if I walk down from upper berth my t-shirt should cover my waist, check again and again that no one is following you to the washroom. Even when you are traveling in a bus, covering your face with scarf, there will always be someone in the bus who is continuously staring at you. Don’t know what is he trying to find out in those two eyes which are the only visible thing on your face. But, they will not stop, they will continue this until you step out of the bus. So, overall I know that above things are like common to all the women of our society. There is nothing new in it. We are so habituate of such things that even we women don’t know that this alertness of sitting properly, checking bra straps time to time, pulling down t-shirt after every minute and facing those monitoring looks around, have become a part of our life.
But, one day it just came to my mind, what do men think and whats running in their mind when they are traveling alone? Do they also feel that someone is watching their activities? Do coming down from upper seat bother them that their body posture is going to be observer by someone? Do they also have to prepare themselves before calling a vendor to buy snacks or walking on the platform in search of water? Have they felt or faced the inspection looks of co-passengers? I asked these questions to my brother, my husband and they literally had no clue about what am I talking about. My brother cracked a joke and said “whats so special in me that any co-passenger will stare at. While traveling in buses, trains people already look worst so no one even looks at you”. I accepted his words that while traveling people looks terrible sometimes, they are just part of a crowd. But still a woman, a girl traveling alone will always stand out and be observed because she is alone.
We listen to news time and again about eve-teasing, molestation, touching inappropriately etc etc. But one hardly understand that staring and observing a woman who is traveling alone is also a kind of mental torture. Instead of enjoying the journey and looking outside the window to experience beautiful views, she is restricting herself behind the books, phone screens or the blanket. Because this is what she is taught about to protect herself, to avoid troubles and reach home safely.
– Sristi Singh (Blogger)
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