What comes to mind when one says “Girl at the bus stop”? Let’s see.. an image of a beautiful girl in a white dress, loose hair, and angelic smile on the face waiting for her bus to arrive. If you are imaginative enough you can also hear the violins playing in the background. But here’s a spoiler for all of those who have this fairy tale-ishly convenient notion: It is pretty much a taboo to wear an all-white dress or leave your hair loose at most of the bus stops especially here at Hyderabad.

Why? Because something as simple as matching earrings could get you inevitable and much irritating attention.  No, I don’t deny that girls love attention, I do too! But sometimes too much is just too bad. Most might say, “Come on! It’s because they think you are beautiful. Take it as a compliment!” Sure! I’d love a compliment as long as it isn’t dirty, and take my word for it, or for that matter any other ‘City bus-travelling’ girls, most of these compliments come in the form of filthy stares, cat calls and zero eye contact.

Of course there must be many guys around me who are sweet and shy and are genuinely lauding us from afar, but when the paranoia of eve teasing sets in, (which by the way is very natural after a week of travelling in city buses) Shah Rukh Khan from DDLJ could turn up before me and he would still look like Gabbar Singh in my eyes, ready to kidnap me, tie me up and make me dance on broken glass. And obviously my mother, the mother of all paranoia, looks at me, all prettily dressed, and sends me off every day as if she were sending me to war. Our regional media is only making matters worse. With its vicious voice over, gruesome visuals and exaggerated news about how languid security is these days, it only throws fodder to our already negative and terrified psyche. That however is an entirely different story.

I might come out as a feminist lunatic, who thinks that every tiny thing that happens in the world is bringing about the doom of women-kind. But fact is, I am tired of waking up in the morning and thinking of ways to look unattractive; bugged with avoiding eye-contact with anyone who passes by; sick of burying my face in my cell-phone, pretending to text while someone is most certainly scanning me from head-to-foot. I feel really trapped, suffocated, caged when even what I wear has to be decided according to the displeasure of some crooks. I am fed up of asking myself ‘WHY do I have to go through this over and over every day?’ and accepting that there is no answer.

This is not a plea for a change or an attempt to solve the mess. I am just putting forth the perceptions, thoughts and questions that haunt my mind: the mind of a girl at the bus stop. I don’t even expect a solution, just answers. How to look, What to wear, Where to stand, When to react.. There is always an answer for How, What, Where and When, but there’s never an answer for why.. Why?

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Srividya

Srividya