Thursday, 19 June 2014

Appearances Are Deceptive

This incident happened some twenty five years ago when my husband and I were travelling in a UP Roadways bus from Kanpur to Lucknow. The sun was just setting on a cold winter evening. We noticed a smart, suave young man striking a conversation with a jeans clad girl (jeans clad girls were still a rare sight in UP in those days and were considered 'fast') sitting in the adjacent window seat. Disinterested, I resumed the novel I was reading while my husband decided to catch up on some sleep.
Alarmed by a sudden movement in the seat ahead of ours, I saw the girl squirm uncomfortably in her seat as the young man murmured something in her ears. Engrossed as I was in the novel, I did not pay much attention. But when I heard a sharp voice a little later, I could see that the girl was distressed by the man's attempts to get close to her and was telling him to lay off. As I tapped the girl on the shoulder and asked if I could help, the bus stopped at Unnav bus station. Still leering at the girl, the man offered to get her some tea or cold drink. When the girl declined angrily, he got down telling her he would be back soon.
The girl confessed that the apparently highly educated man with a clipped British accent was trying to touch her inappropriately. Enraged, my husband asked her to get into his seat beside me while he seated himself in her window seat. When the creepy lech returned a couple of minutes later, he was shell shocked to find my husband in the seat instead of the girl. A stern look on my husband's face told him in no uncertain terms to behave properly otherwise.........!
When we got down at Lucknow bus station an hour later, the molester quickly disappeared among the milling crowds without even a glance at us. The girl thanked us profusely for helping her. We offered to escort her to her hostel (she was a medical student) but she assured us that she could manage now.
Times have changed.....but has the mindset changed? A single girl travelling alone-'too modern' or a 'damsel in distress'? And in this case, contrary to general perception, the culprit, the oppressor was not a ruffian but a smart, well dressed, highly educated young man.

Readers' experiences welcome..........good or bad! 

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