I'm going to sound a little bitter and horribly sarcastic, but you know, I can't really help it. I'm just about to tell everyone that story... THAT story about how I offered to buy coffee for a woman and got jailed for my very "forward" approach. For no fault of mine or a crime that I never committed.
I always felt it was nice and chivalrous of a guy to be straight forward and ask a girl out. That day I realised how dangerous it is to be honest in our country.
It was just your average Saturday in the big city and I finally had time from office to go to a doctor for a knee problem that I was facing those days. My mother was going to the hospital anyway because she has arthritis and she was getting her diagnosis done. I was waiting for her after my appointment because I was free already. In the meantime I saw a doctor, she looked pretty. Unfortunately, I couldn't resist myself from stealing glances at her.
We both noticed each other and we even had an eye contact a couple of times but I didn't approach her then. I waited for her to get free from her colleagues and patients. As soon as I saw a window to speak with her alone, I pounced at the opportunity. In my head I was thinking she may be too smart for me but being a doctor, she'll also be polite and open minded so what's the harm in trying? So I said a simple "Hi" and asked her if she'd want to catch up for a cup of coffee over the weekend.
She replied saying, "Get lost."
I got my answer and I quietly went back to my sofa before my mom came back. I felt really stupid and embarrassed and tried really hard to not show it on my face. I distracted myself by staring at my phone doing random things to look busy. Getting rejected by a girl is just another level of failure in life for guys I guess. What happened next was completely uncalled for and I didn't expect it so I was chilling on the sofa relaxing and feeling bad at the same time.
In a matter of a few minutes, hospital's chief security officer asked me to come with him to his office. In his office, he started questioning me about what I had done to the lady doctor. Apparently, the "pretty lady" had complained that I had harassed her. I was slightly taken aback but I kept my calm without expecting the worst. Obviously I hadn't done anything of that sort and that's what I kept telling myself in my head.
I calmly explained the situation to the officer and went back to my seat with a straight face, feeling proud that my mother didn't have to get involved in something so baseless. Soon after my mom came back and we were ready to leave. Because of my knee problem, I was slower than my mom in walking and she was walking much ahead of me.
As I reached the main door to step out of this cringeworthy environment, almost thirty security guards surrounded me. She was standing right there.
I apologised to her immediately and told her that I meant no offence. It was only coffee and I didn't intend any harm at all. It was alright if she didn't want it. I didn't have to apologise to her, it only proved that I had done something wrong but I didn't want all this happening in front of my mother. It was too late by then and my mom had come back looking for me.
My mom was going berserk at this point. She started crying and pleading. She didn't know what was happening, she only wanted to protect her boy. She was crying hysterically. With all that commotion, all eyes were scrutinising me.
I could literally feel the heat of hatred in all those eyes, but I thought to myself, "I am right and I believe in God."
I again tried talking to the doc. But she had completely lost her cool by then and had started yelling a string of abuses at me. Every single eye in the crowded hall was on me- the guy. The "culprit". Seeing no other way out, I requested to speak with a senior doctor. I was praying to God that he should be a fair gentleman before speaking with him. Since it was one of my lucky days, obviously that didn't happen.
He in turn told me he'd "destroy me."
It left me speechless. I hadn't done anything that was anywhere close to eve-teasing. I had merely asked a woman out in the most gentlemanly way possible. There was nothing sexual in what I had said but who would take my word for it? Nobody. Not one single person.
The police had arrived by now. In this whole scene, my mother was still crying and was begging now. She told me to apologise.
I said, "Look I didn't think this through. I didn't know I was doing something wrong. But if I stepped over any toes or crossed any lines, then I'm extremely sorry. I didn't mean to harm or disrespect anyone."
I didn't deserve this, my mother didn't deserve this. But, the "pretty" woman didn't really have that pretty a heart. She saw all this silently knowing in the back of her mind what she had done.
I was strangely feeling ashamed standing in that hospital. The policemen sided with the doctors of course. They are the ones who save our lives and ironically enough, get us into shit as well. The lady who I dared to ask out, her husband was about to arrive. Of course I had assumed that she's single when I had walked up to her, she looked very young and immature as well after this whole drama she had created. But she was married.
In my head, I made two scenarios. Her husband would either be an intelligent and fair man who'll see both sides of the story first or he'd be a jerk like everyone else standing in that hospital.
Soon I saw him and he turned out to be the second option. That day and my luck. He walked straight up to me as if he'd known my face all this while and slapped me in full public view without hearing a word. The police couldn't stop him. He also threatened to kill me in front of everybody and supplied a lot of graphic detail. He would castrate me, pull my intestines out and behead me. Again I had nothing to say. And nobody found that even remotely disturbing, because what was it compared to the crime of offering coffee to an inconvenienced woman?
Whereas I had "outraged her modesty". That's what the FIR against me reads, along with eve-teasing with the intention to molest (or worse). I spent the worst weekend of my life in a cockroach infested cell, waiting for the court to issue my bail the following Monday. I refused to bribe the policemen for the mistake I didn't commit.
Finally, I got out on bail after my parents called up all my uncles and aunts to seek help. But it took that fine young lady seven months to drop her charges against me. They were seven painful, shameful months of distress, embarrassment, no permission to leave the city, and no moral support from family and friends.
Everybody had just one thing to say to me- "Who asked you to talk to her?"
My very own mother had an extra question to ask- "Is this what I raised you to do?" That day was the worst. I was numb. I didn't know how to answer that question. What did I do so wrong for her to ask me this question? I was always the "chivalrous guy" in my group, sometimes charming too, but now I am scared to be THAT guy.
It's high time we realise that men in this country have an equally difficult life. So many people assume that we're privileged chauvinists powered by layers of fat under our thick skin. My skin was as easily bruised as a woman's. I was also affected by unnecessary harassment and name-calling. I have to let go of my male ego to admit this. It hurt but nobody really cared.
I had to submit a notarised document to the court before the charges were dropped against me. I have given it in writing that I will make no advances towards any woman, sexually or even otherwise, for as long as I reside in this country. I fail to understand how it makes any sense because it is fundamentally opposed to my Right as an Indian Citizen to marry whomever I want, or even have any kind of a relationship as an adult with a sound mind. But I gave up a long time ago.
I am no longer interested in living a life where I have to constantly prove my innocence. I have never done anything illegal in my life but I've had to live the consequences of somebody's definition of "inappropriate". I have never been "appropriate" in that sense. I don't know what to do to act appropriate in this country and I have forgotten the definition of "decency".
My family sees me as a sexual assaulter. My parents hardly talk to me now because they are ashamed of me and my actions that were made in someone else's head.
The society has forced my parents to disown me. The actual rapists and eve-teasers in my country have forced the society to be against me. The Indian laws supporting females in all possible situations have given all the women a right to bring my life upside down. The Indian laws standing against me in all possible situations have forced me to live an uncomfortable lifestyle in my own country.
I won't dare talk to a woman again or appreciate beauty for that matter. I'm more conservative now and I hardly talk to girls. I probably won't till the day I get engaged to get married. But I highly doubt if my parents would trust me with a girl ever again. I've taken up travelling as a stress buster but I'm still a nomad in my own mother land.
Hope you live a happy life dear woman because I'll never get back the past few years of my life but I'm happy that someone will. That should be you.
a victimised man who you taught to be anonymous.