05/01/2017 9:37 AM IST | Updated 05/01/2017 2:32 PM IST

This Heartfelt Poem Captures The Devastation Of Being Molested On The Streets Of India


Stephen Schildbach
Woman Being Watched

Over the last five days, people across the country have struggled to put into words the rage and despair they've felt over the mass molestation of women on New Year's eve in Bengaluru. Women were pawed, groped, cat-called and assaulted on the streets by drunk revellers, as they ran from one policeman to another for help.

As if the trauma of being sexually harassed was not enough, some politicians, and men's rights activists on Twitter shifted the blame on women, as always, for "inviting" the abuse by staying out late and wearing clothes not pre-approved by India's moral police. Politician Abu Azmi said India's "daughters" should take precautions not to get molested.

And we preached right back to him.

MRAs sanctimoniously trended the hashtag #NotAllMen and we clapped back.

Every time such incidents happen, social platforms bubble over with an outpouring of concern and anger. But the more things change in India, the more they remain the same. The same arguments are raised, mostly by men, about what women should and should not do to keep themselves safe. Instead of freeing the streets for all, women are being advised to stay off them.

In the cross-current of opinions, one poem stands out for it's raw, punch-in-the-gut honesty. This is the account of every woman, every day, every where in India. No, make that the world. Blogger Roma Joshi uses a mix of pop-culture lyrical references (Queen, Bollywood films) to rhyme about anger and helplessness.

Here, read for yourself.

I have done my due

Time after time

And done this stupid old sentence but committed no crime.

I have thought this through now,

No more a fool.

Listen up, I give up.

I give up on Bangalore

I give up on Delhi

I give up on Mumbai

And Chennai

I give up on Indore, Jaipur, Shimla, Chandigarh

And of course I give up on Goa.

What good were those news debates I wonder?

How does it matter that my girlfriends and I

just had an intellectually stimulating conversation about this?

When it happened I was walking

home from work

at 6.30pm

fully clothed,

loose not hugging,

not modest,

without make up, not intoxicated,

not trying to prove a point,

not being bossy or opinionated or daring. Or independent

I was not even smoking a cigarette as I walked. Controlling urges.

Not cat walking. Not yawning.

A not-so-expensive-looking ring on my ring finger sat pretty.

To say out loud, 'some other guy's property'.

Phone in my bag.

Come on I wouldn't ever talk on the phone in an alley,

You know ants and sugar right?

My voice too is sugar.

Provocative sugar.

They gathered around me,

same old story, faceless men on a two wheeler.

Won't glorify what happened next.

It was only 2 minutes. Not noodles.

They got down, made advances, I fought back. Lol.

They kissed me kisses that felt alien.

Stranger things right in the feels.

But not the upside-down-demigorgan kind. Way worse.

It was like an out of the body experience.

It were as if I was up in the air

watching all these sensations happen to me

but still not feel a thing.

Beyond numb.

They pinned me down

Bang bang

I hit the ground

Bang bang

I was stripped off my clothes,

Of my dignity

Most of all I was stripped of my sense of self.

Of my truth.

Is this for reals? I thought.

Things like this go viral on the news,

On YouTube

And I win fucking battles in the fucking comment sections.

Can't be happening to me.


As I watched myself struggle, my mind wandered to the aftermath.

The shame the family would feel;

How my husband would be supportive but not quite understand.

His parents would confuse this too with some kind of issue with my modern life choices

The pain my mother would go through.

The price she'll pay for a raising an independent child.

Hushed conversations near the water cooler in the office.

As I am groped even more violently,

the gravel and dirt of the road in my mouth,

my brain has visions of vulgar displays of women empowerment.

On TV and web.

Shut up Tanishq with your prose about working women with views.

Right now respect for my views is the last thing on my mind

Shut up AIB,

Shut up Kalki Koechlin.

You think these guys understand sarcasm or the purpose of satire?

Shut up Da da ding.

Here's to India's favourite sport.

Shut up item numbers

And for heaven's sake,

shut the fuck up Bollywood.

This faceless mob has taken your ways too seriously.

No is yes.

Walking in the street minding your own business is also yes.

Coz SRK, Salman, Aamir, Ranbir say so.

Yeh uska style hoyenga, hoothon pe na dil mein haan.

Aaj na chodoonga tujhe, dam dama dam.

Dil mein hai toofan bhara.

Ha ha.

Shut up consent, for you don't exist.

If I get out of this,

I am giving up on risking my life every time I go out to work or to enjoy.

Or to fucking buy groceries for my future kids to get fucking nutrition.

If I get out of this,

I'm giving up on justifying men ogling at me in the metro, or at a friend's wedding.

If I get out of this,

I'm giving up on bringing a girl into this world.

Correction: a girl or a boy.

Because I'm also giving up on the whole raise your boy right.

It's too much.

Please let me go,

I will choose common sense over ideals.

I have learnt my lesson.

I won't go partying wearing clothes that make me happy,

even if it is New Year's Eve.

Especially if it's New Year's Eve,

The year's end is no reason to lose your fucking morals right?

If I get out of this,

I will never put that Oxblood red lip stick.

Or drink my favourite wine.

Or dance to that track I love.

Instead, I will lock the door and stay in at home.

And not call male friends over. Never.

If I get out of this,

I will never smirk as a man explains to me why #NotAllMen is logic.

If I get out of this,

I'll give up on this whole feminism thing.

I swear.


If I get out of this,

I will go around asking men if they are bored and sing to them

So baby, pull me closer in the backseat of your rover.

At least that way, there will be some twisted kind of consent.

Try me swines, I could stoop lower.

This first appeared here.