The newspapers are riff these days with news where a girl is raped by a cab driver or a woman is raped by her colleague and such hearing about such heinous incidents always gave me goosebumps and it certainly fills a woman’s heart and beliefs with negativity and terror. She becomes vulnerable. Although a woman is independent, confident and assertive but such incidents have made her feel diffident. The risk of losing her dignity and pride has always haunted a woman. I always feel weak willed about going out alone. But then, there’s one incident from my memory lane that gives me strength and positivity, that gives me the assurance that our society also has some good and decent men around. And today I feel like sharing the incident, an incident shared never before as I always felt petrified of sharing it with anybody.
It was the yr. 2000’s first trimester. It was just 6 months completion of my graduation. I wanted to do MCA from IGNOU, and for that I have to clear the entrance exam first i.e. CIC(Certificate in computers). I got my roll number and examination center ticket. It was somewhere at a school at Karol Bagh. I prepared hard. And finally the day had come.
I took my breakfast from home, packed the necessary things for examination in my bag, my wallet, my hall ticket. My mom and dad wished me luck. My dad asked me if he should come along to drop me to the center. I said no, I can go by myself as I’m a big girl now. He gave me a smile and my mom gave me all the instructions to be careful. “Now go, and take the auto if you find the buses crowded because it's 8.oo am, and it’s going to be peak hour.” I nodded in reply.
At the bus stop I waited for my bus that would drop me to the nearby place. One bus came but it was too crowed I didn't board it. But as soon as I saw the time again, it was 8.10 am and I was suppose to be at my destination as on or before 9.45 am, as 10.00 am was the examination time. I decided to take an auto rickshaw, but I didn’t find one, not even nearby.
Then I decided to break my route. I took a bus which would drop me to the outer main road and by another 10 minutes I was at the bus stop at link road of Mall Road, at Delhi University .There I met a friend from neighborhood. We chatted. And then I came to know that there was a strike by all auto rickshaws and taxis unions. She was standing there for past half an hour. From their conversation I came to know that she was going to same place for her exam, where I was going. She was sitting for the same course. I felt happy that I was not alone but was a little confused too, that how will we go to our center now.
Those days there were no mobiles and we didn’t find any local telephone booth nearby at those early hours. By the time it was 8.45am. We were now worried. We waited and waited. And the strange part was that we rarely talked with each other before, though we lived nearby. But at that time it felt that we knew each other for long. It was 9.00 am. We two decided to take a lift. And with shivered hand we did the signal. OMG! It’s giving my shiver, today even. At those times, girls were never seen hitch hiking on the road.
And keeping the risks involved in mind, taking lift was never a good idea. There was a lot that was going in my mind that moment. But then we had no other option. We stood aside the bus stop. Suddenly, we saw a car and we signaled with tilted thumb again. The car stopped. We had smiles on our face but we were still in dilemma? We looked each other and walked towards the car hand in hand. But then we saw a man suddenly opening the door of the car and sits in it and we were embarrased to know that it had not stopped for us. We stopped there in utter embarassment and as we were about to turn, a voice came "Excuse me?” we looked towards the direction of voice.
The man who just seated inside the car was standing there. He asked us where we wanted to go. We told him that our destination was Karol Bagh. He then signaled to wait and chatted with the person driving the car. They discussed something. And then he again signaled us to come. We thanked God on finally getting the lift.
We were happy from outside but startled from inside. There were a lot of things going in our mind but what to do. We gave each other a questioning look and then nodded in consent. We walked slowly holding each other’s hand. When we reached near the car he told us that they will drop us at MALKA GANJ. We agreed and got inside the car. There we found another man sitting at driving seat. We got more scared. But controlled ourselves and calmly took our seat. We started.
We two were sitting very close to each other, holding hands and praying to God. By then, it was 9.15 am. In between the ride they asked us why it’s important for us to go to KAROL BAGH. Are we going for any shopping? As it’s an auto and taxi strike what was so important to go out for, that we asked for a lift? We told them that it’s our exam and we didn’t have the idea about the strike. "Ohhh … hush… okkkk!" They said.
“Alright then, we’ll try to drop you to the nearby place, though it’s out of way for us. But as it’s your exam, will try to help you in any way we can.” “Thanks!" We two said in harmony feeling grateful to them. Still holding hands, we were still having our doubts. But we to remain seated, calm and confident, as there was no other way. We passed MALKA GANJ. Then came the BARAFKHANA. The car slowed there, we four looked outside. Searched for auto rickshaw. But no, there was no auto rickshaw, instead a heavy rush at the bus stop. The car moved. We left the place, we told them to drop us there and that we would manage.
“How do you manage, did’t you see how much crowd was there at the bus stop. If any bus came it will be already crowed and it will be difficult for you girls to get that bus. We’ll drop you to your destination” one of the man in the car said.
I thanked him for being so thoughtful “Thank you so much uncle, but you are going out of your way and you got would be late for your work.”
“Ohh that’s perfectly fine with us, ek din office late bhi ho gaya toh kya. Thoda lamba route ho jayega aur kya . But for you girls it’s more important to reach on time, don’t you worry.” The man sitting on driving seat said.
We two felt little relaxed but still had doubts and prayed. We two constantly were looking at each other, giving courage to each other. And then at 9.40 am we crossed KAROL BAGH too. Then they asked us the exact address for our center. We told them ' Rajkiya Madhyamik Vidyalaya , pahadi wala, opposite Bagga Link, Karol Bagh'.
Within another five minutes we were outside of the gate of our examination center. We saw the board to confirm. We hurriedly got down of the car and gave our thanks. And to which the man who was in the driving seat said something that etched in my memory forever. “All the best girls. Do well, make your parents proud. And that will be our thanks.” Yes a strange man said so to a girl who was a completely stranger to him. We thanked them again. Because of their help we reached our examination centre on time. Which was earlier looking impossible some minutes back was now a reality.
We rushed towards the examination center. We reached our respective classrooms. And within seconds under the examination pressure we forgot about the problems we faced to reach there. We both met at the decided meeting point after the exam. We talked about the morning incident and thanked God that he sent his men to help us.
It’s going to be 17 yrs now since that incident happened. But I still remember each and every moment of it. I don’t know about the other girl as we lost touch later after that. I m not sure whether she remembers the incident or not. But I still have my gratitude for those men. That was the first and the last day I took the lift. Never again. Although i faced a lot of eve teasing by boys later that incident, whether walking alone or walking with friends, whether wearing a western dress or an Indian one, whether I was a 20 year old girl or now a mother of a kid. But all these incidents remind me of that day where anything could have happened to me but it was those men who were nobel and considerate.That day I realized that not all men are immoral and it was always about what kind of upbringing they had.
I hereby request all the men in my life, my brothers, my husband, my dad, my son, my friends that somewhere someday some men helped your sister, your wife, your daughter, your mom or aunt, your friend to reach her destination safely on time . You can help others sister, daughters; wife’s to reach their place safely to pay gratitude’s towards those men’s. I don’t know who they were and where they are now. But by any chance they are reading this, my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to both of you.