Sunday, June 08, 2008

tubelight

My friends call me a tube-light (you know, the fluorescent lights that take a few seconds to flicker on). I'm the girl who wakes up the following morning and finally gets the joke. I like to call it a delayed reaction.

This is all the more acute when I'm molested (yes, unfortunately it has occurred enough times in my life to describe it as a regular event). The shock kicks in and my physical and mental recoiling occurs a solid 60 seconds after I've gotten over what just happened.

That time we were walking through a crowded fair in Dhaka, Bangladesh (now that I think about it, why in God's name were we walking through said-crowd? That's the equivalent of walking into pervert-zone suicide.) Somebody grabbed my ass, and before I could register what had happened followed by turning around to confront the menace, he was loooong gone. In fact, I think I remember him scampering away watching me with a delighted grin. I shall refrain from swearing in a highly unlady-like manner on this blog. I have a job now.

That other time, (age 12?) some guy slapped my ass as I was entering a shopping mall. Now this one's a classic. I literally froze in shock — my sister, walking ahead of me, looked back to find me rooted on the spot. Soon as I pointed out the guy, she charged — literally charged towards the guy and grabbed him by the collar, "You touched my sister, you little son of a *****, you touched my sister!" Obviously the dude, very smooth, denied it. So then I was summoned — at this point, still, by the way, rooted to aforementioned 'spot'. I walked over, to the slowly forming crowd surrounding my sister and this shameless perpretator. I was horrified. I wasn't expecting such valiance on the part of my sis. "Tell him, go on, tell him he touched your ass," she urged me. And all I, ladies and gentlemen, could muster?

"Yes!" I fixed him with the steeliest look I could put up, followed by a VERY threatening finger wagging, much like a cross teacher afflicts on a tardy student.

Can't remember much of what happened next, but I vaguely recall a lot of anti-climax and collar-releasing.....

Then recently, in Cairo, Megan got pawed and before I had registered what had happened, she was half a mile away, chasing after the guy. That had me in awe. I couldn't stop going on about Megan's successfully catching her molestor and kah-POWING him with sweet revenge. SCORE for the hundreds of girls molested on Cairo's streets and trains. The little bastard would think twice before he ever touched another petite blond foreign chick.

Why am I telling you all this now? Why? Because today I was once again given the privilege of getting 'tapped' on the ass on the bus home. The bus was full — it was a Sunday and all the construction workers were going home from their weekend partying at Serangoon apparently. I thought twice before getting on the bus, but did so anyway, figuring we could squeeze past the 600 men crowding the door. And whaddya know! As I'm squeezing past them, rather than them moving away and giving me space to get past, I feel a tap on my ass, amidst illegible foreign gabbeldy-gook and much laughter. Vimal later said she could smell the beer emanating from their pores.

I don't know what did it. Maybe it was because I had just watched Sex & The City — The Movie and felt renewed I'm-50-and-I-don't-need-a-boyfriend empowerment? Who knows. But the formerly-finger-wagger-Nancy swiftly turned around and threw a tight slap on his face. The drastic change on his face — from that gleeful leer, laughing along with his friends to that of shock, mouth wide open, eyes startled — was satisfaction enough. I didn't wait to give him an earful or cause more of a scene.

But the whole thing has left a unpleasant taste in my mouth. I still cringe thinking of the contact my hand made with his slightly damp, open mouthed, moustached face. The first thing I did upon getting home was scrub my hand with soap. Mixed in with the disgust, was my elitist guilt. Did I slap the right guy? I honestly don't know. When I turned around he was the closest face laughing at me. Was it an innocent tap on the ass? Could I have misread innocent movement around a crowded bus entrance just because my paranoia and senses were at a peak because of the clear bias and prejudice I hold against these workers? Had I just betrayed people, who quite possibly could have been from my country, Bangladesh? People who come to work and earn hard earned money, most of which is sent back home month after month to feed a family they don't even get to see at the end of the work day?

It didn't feel like I'd scored any points today.

But hey, I suppose the tube-light situation is improving.

1 comment:

Vimaljit Kaur said...

they were not from bangladesh... Im pretty sure of that.