I preferred to be in the company of a man I know instead of taking an auto or a taxi. I heard too many auto tales in the very first month we shifted to Hyderabad. There is an area called Gachibowli which is IT hub near to Hi-tech city. An autowallah drastically drove the auto and snatched the lady’s purse and belongings and pushed her out of the auto. It happened to a fellow colleague. She was totally bruised and shaken and it was enough to send a shiver in my spine. I never took an auto after that. I strangely preferred service auto thinking there is less scope of crime but I was not comfortable with few stares or lecherous eyes. I was glad when I finally got the company bus pass and started taking the office bus.
After two months of stay and getting comfortable with Hyderabad, I started going out on my own. I used to go to early morning walks with my dad and some times alone on the empty roads around my house which was in Mehdipatnam near St.Anns women’s college. It is one of the busiest centers of Hyderabad. I used to go quite early for the morning walk. Due to the women’s college we used to read one or the other news on eve teasing and used to hear a lot about oglers. Other than that it was comfortable and a safe locality for any one to stay. I had this opinion till that awful day. That day I got little late but the roads were still empty other than few school buses honking and the beggars sleeping on the foot path. I started walking briskly with my MP3 plugged in my ears.
My Mom always warned me to walk with out any music as hearing to music on roads is not safe but inertia of motion happens in my case only if I have some good music as a companion. I always keep the player on a very low volume. That day my dad did not accompany me as he had to go to market for some urgent work. I was almost done with my walking. I was in the last but one round. There are many U-turns and bends which I need to take in those colonies arranged in a maze. I was huffing and panting and walking on the side-walk of the street when suddenly a guy from no where came like a flash on his rattling scooter and slapped me hard on my back. I froze.
For a second I did not understand what happened. I shrieked loud. My voice was loud enough to wake up the dead bodies but no one came out of the houses even if they were sipping their chais and reading news papers in their verandas and a man who was cleaning his car near by did not flinch. By then tears were rolling down my eyes. I looked around helplessly to understand what just happened.In the initial second I felt a tree branch fell on me and hence the force and the pain. The lecher even had the guts to turn around and look at me with his blood shot eyes. I was boiling by then and ran behind him after picking an wooden stick near by . He was blissful and drove away. His scooter had no silencers. I was not in a stage to note down his number and he just left like a sudden tornado.
An old man was coming from opposite direction and even before I told him what happened , he sensed there was some thing wrong and ran after the scooter. He hurled a stone at him but by then the man fled away. The old man came running to me. I was still shell shocked. He asked me what happened. As the person slapped me while he was driving in jet speed it was really painful and again a fresh set of tears formed in my eyes. He bent his head down as if he understood and walked with me till the end of the road requesting me to be careful and gave me courage that some times shit happens. He told he has a daughter too and shared some tips on how to be vigilant. I half paid attention as I reached my colony. He asked, ” Shall I drop you till home ?” By that time my dad approached me as he was back home and also as I called him.
He was fuming and had a short conversation with the uncle. I called him uncle and didn’t even bother asking his name. He was elder than my dad. We invited him for tea and he narrated all the sagas of Mehdipatnam like how even burqa (outer garment worn by Muslim women from head to toe) clad ladies are teased in that street. The statistics he gave petrified me. I was still lost in thoughts hoping the moron just wanted to snatch my chain or my player but it was evident that he clearly had no such intentions.
Uncle smiled and told me not to think about it . He was in to social activities and also managed the colony events. He shook my dad’s hands and waved a bye to me.
He treated me like a kid and at that moment I felt so light. I never thought to pen this down in my blog but today the letter “M” and blogadda’s topic made me write this. Where ever he is , he is a true soldier. When many young men who were hearing me acted deaf and many well to do men who were washing cars glanced at me as if it is a daily ritual, this old man stood out of the crowd and took that one step to make me feel better. He definitely didn’t have physical strength to run after the culprit but the way he came to my rescue moved me. He for sure was a hero that day and he rekindled my belief that few good men always exist.
After that day I never dared to go for a walk all alone ! I was accompanied by brother , dad or mom. I stopped going for morning walks and joined gym due to the sole reason of not feeling safe on an empty road.
Do you face the same jitters too ? What are your experiences ? Gandhiji said India is free when a woman can roam on roads fearlessly well past the midnight. Leave the mid of the night. I would be glad if at least our roads are safe in the wake of the dawn !
This post goes as a tribute to that elderly stranger who was different from others.