Soldiers for women. Such a noble thought. All I had to do was write about that one person in my life who stood up for me and protected me from ‘evil eyes’. My dad instantly popped up in my head, but I decided to dig deeper. I thought about all my friends, acquaintances, colleagues – strained my brains hard enough to think of that one person who did something extraordinary for me or any other girl. Even a small gesture would do. I was shocked. These were the only 2 instances I could think of. And both included strangers in my life.
A crowded bus is the breeding spot for oglers and perverts. And women who stand in the aisle, waiting to get a seat, are easy targets. This incident occurred on a bus ride from Andheri to Malad. I was standing in the aisle, and the man standing behind me kept falling on me. Every time I turned to glare at him, he blamed it on the bumps from the speed breakers. I let it go, not wanting to create a scene. This happened for a few more times and I had asked him to move away from me. Citing lack of space, he stayed where he was and did something even worse. I felt uncomfortable when I realized that he was trying to feel me up, with his genitals. This time, I turned around a created a ruckus. Everybody stared and did nothing, except one man. He was fragile, he was old. But his eyes reflected an angst that could match up with any youth. He was watching all this from the past 15 minutes, and saw me getting increasingly uncomfortable. He had made up his mind to do something about it, way before I did. He insulted the a#@%hole, gave him a sound thrashing and dragged him off the bus. And then made space for me stand, making sure that no one stood around me. I was amazed, filled with admiration for a man as gutsy as him. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. He was my soldier, especially when I hadn’t found my voice yet. I wish I’d asked him his name that day.
October 20th, 2011. The saddest day in the history of Mumbai. When 2 young guys were assaulted to death in the most inhuman way, just because they tried to save a girl from eve-teasing. Keenan & Reuben – who became the poster boys for eve-teasing thereafter, had their guts spilling all over the floor just because they dared to stop an evil-doer. They were soldiers for the woman besides them.
About a year later, another very brave man – Mr Valerian Santos, father of Keenan Santos, does exactly the same thing that his son lost his life for. At the very same spot. A young girl protested a lewd comment by an eve-teaser, and he was beating her up. Mr. Santos bore witness to this all and stepped in to save the girl. The cops (beat marshalls) looked on and did nothing. And when Mr. Santos questioned them, he was roughed up too.
His son saved his girlfriend and lost his life. Valerian still stands by him though, and with this incident – he proved that real heroes are bred. I wish every parent teaches their son to be a #soldierforwomen, and not the reason for their distress. And soon enough, the world will be a better place.