Short(y) I’m gonna get ya!’ screams the city’s streets, every time we see a girl walk in something that is probably putting her ankle ‘on display’, let alone a piece of clothing near the knee or something, because well, that’s obviously too much. We are the ‘New York of India’, but are we still safe? Think.
One idea that has been seen doing the rounds is the stereotype about the dress code, the ‘She is wearing short clothes to flaunt her body’ kinds. My point here is not about disrespecting any ideology, but sometimes I wish that we had a ‘Freedom To Wear’ law in our Constitution too, because every human being has the right to wear what they like.
Why am I rambling about safety in Mumbai? Well, because I have been made to feel unsafe. I’ll start with the first time, ignore the other 100 times and talk about the last time, before I moved out of the city.
On the main road at around 10.30pm. My friend and I were walking towards a bus stop which was exactly 2 minutes away, and she was wearing these knee-length pants, as it was monsoon. Talking and laughing, we were hardly looking around until we noticed two men smirking and discussing my friend’s legs (From the knee to her toes, precisely). We ignored them, thinking they were just stupid people. From the corner of my eye, I saw one of the men bend down to pick something up but I didn’t take much notice. But then, that man threw something that hit her somewhere below her knee, and she stopped and turned around, startled. What that pig had thrown at her was a cigarette bud! I started to call him names but my friend stopped me as there were hardly any people around us, and we had a 40 minute distance to cover. I cannot describe the difficulty I faced in resisting my temptation of slapping them. So if I walk on the street at night, I am supposed to be pelted with whatever garbage one finds. Is this my Mumbai? I don’t know.
Skipping 50 ‘minor’ incidents on the streets and roughly another 50 at other odd times so far in my life, let’s come to the ultimate form of nonsense. I was out with a group of friends for a late night drive when we decided to go the domestic airport to eat as it was around 3am and nothing was open. We were 4 boys and 2 girls. We got a table next to this group of men that no one took notice of until I saw two of them looking at me and my friend, commenting and laughing. I decided it was too uncomfortable to deal with, so I chose to ignore. But they had other plans. My friend’s chair was right next to their table and suddenly, I noticed the man on her side starting to lean towards her. Before I could react, he reached out for the pockets of her shorts and pulled out a box of cigarettes from there! She was obviously too shocked and just said “Excuse me?!”, and the man threw the box on her lap in a haste. I was so angry that this could happen that I said, “This is not funny!” loud enough for all the other people on his table to hear. A man from their table told those two men to go out, and apologized to us. The only reason I did nothing about it then was my inner voice telling me,” You remember Keenan and Reuben’s case. Please, do not react.”
And then, there was the horrific incident about a photojournalist, who was gang-raped in the city, shutting the mouth of every person who criticized the Delhi rape case with a “this can never happen in Mumbai” attitude.
It is Unbelievable that now we have to tolerate nonsense from men because they may kill us if we don’t?! I can see some real ‘progress’ here. And the best part of the whole incident? Those two men did not have the excuse of being drunk. They were sober, I saw them sipping juice. Imagine the audacity of trying to touch a girl in a restaurant with all tables full around them and obviously the cops being around as it was the airport.
So, Mumbai, as one of your own girls, someone who has lived all her life in the city and praises it to no end when in other cities of India, I have this question. Are we still safe? Instead of the usual ‘Mumbai never sleeps’ we should start saying ‘Sweet Dreams, Mumbai’?