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While I sit to draft this note,the world around me is engaged in a much necessary conversation.

The'#Me Too' movement.

This excerpt,I thought would be my contribution to the movement, which is spreading more virally than the ebola virus.

It was two years back.On a sunny evening,I was waiting at a bus station in 'Vellarada',a place in the outskirts of Trivandrum. Aimed to board a bus back to 

central Trivandrum after visiting my friend, who was ailing from food poison.

Within few minutes of wait,a bus reached the stop.

It was an orange color 'Rajadhani Express' of KSRTC.

Three fourth of the seats were filled.I grabbed a seat next to an old woman.

I was busy making myself comfortable when the conductor knocked on my seat handle with his pen. "East fort" I said."40", he replied in his low pitched manly voice.

I was perplexed and looked confusedly at the conductor.This was the costliest bus ticket,I ever had to take.My previous journeys, were all at a cost of 10 or 20 rs.

However,being a person with very poor awareness of fuel price or bus fare,I did not go for any argument and paid the money.

While I gazed at the ticket with subtle disbelief,the conductor said "This bus takes a longer route to reach the city" and he moved on to the next seat.

The scorching summer heat and the noisy engine of the bus made me tired and before I could realize I was fast asleep.

Half an hour or so later,I woke up feeling a movement next to me. The old women sitting alongside was getting ready to leave.

I moved myself to the side,giving her space to get down.The bus was halted at a bus depot.

The walls of the depot had posters of films starring Ajith,Rajnikanth and Vijay. All tamil superstars.The boards and signage's were all in tamil.

I had reached the neighboring state in sleep.With a little shock,I turned around.Only a dozen of passengers were left in the bus.

The man sitting behind me said "We are heading back to Trivandrum".

It was assuring for me.Perhaps this was the longer route, the conductor mentioned earlier.I moved to the window seat.

The thought of reaching another state without even realizing it, made me a bit alert.I was no more drowsy.

With full attention,I observed the bus,the traffic and the route.

The road on the border of the two states,looked dull and boring.The flex boards of Jayalalitha in a green saree, added a little color to the otherwise not very 

appealing surroundings.

As the bus moved further boards in Malayalam started to come by, giving me little comfort and peace.

Once we were off the border,my phone rang.I explained to my father, the mistake I made. I told him that I wasn't too interested in waiting for long and hence took the 

first bus that came by.My folly,the bus was taking a round trip from one end of the city to the border and then back to where it started.

My father just replied with an 'Ok' and asked me to call him,if required.

Soon we reached our next stop,'Kulathoor'.This place is a well known estuary that had many tourist visits during the season.

As I gazed through the window,a gentle breeze blew through my face and hair.This refreshing breeze,was enough to take away all the tiredness of the journey.

I looked around,there were small boats on the river banks.I enjoyed this part,it was blissful to feel the mother nature at its best during sunset.

'Ouchh,the sunset', I realized with fear that it is going to turn dark soon.

My mood again dipped downwards as I could see few people getting down at the stand.Within a few minutes, the rest of the people 

also got down in the subsequent two stops and my scare quotient drifted upwards.

Only 3 of us were in the bus. Me,the conductor and the driver.Myself occupying a seat in the center and the conductor towards the back.

I sat with my head slightly bent leftwards to scan the conductor.I felt my fear was justified.I was freshly out of college and has never travelled this far, that too

alone and a bit after dusk.

A gripping fear crossed my heart.The Delhi rape case, flashed in my mind.

I started making strategic plans and preparations for handling the men,if they make a wrong move.

Suddenly I saw the conductor getting up and moving slowly towards me.I froze.All the preparations and strategies fell flat.I faced him numb.

He came near,stopped and said "Dont worry,we will reach soon" and then went back to his seat.His gesture made me relaxed.I felt these men were genuinely good.

They looked decent as well.

I stopped thinking negative and started wondering about the revenue stats of Kerala State Road Transport Corporation.

'How do they make profit, if they take such a long route with less passengers boarding it'.My mind became sceptical again.

In the last 20 minutes, the bus has not halted at any stop.'Are they really taking the right route'?

The time was nearly 8PM.

We were still travelling through roads,which I did not know.My mobile had weak signals and no internet to track our location.

My state of mind became poorer.'Conjuring' movie was little less frightening compared to the situation I was in.

I dialed my father's number and a recorded voice said "You do not have sufficient balance to make this call".

My heart was ready for its maiden heart attack.Beads of sweat broke out of my brow. 

The darkness outside made me more frightened.

The bus suddenly took a turn and stopped inside the Poovar bus depot.

The driver and the conductor stepped outside.I was left alone in the bus.

'Did they go to call their companions or did these men find this place the best for an assault'??

I waited inside the bus with my heart pounding severely. If someone was nearby,they could have easily heard my heart beat.

I could see them from a distance.They were joined by another man and the three were smoking and sharing cigarette.

I felt like screaming at the top of my voice 'Why have you halted the bus when I am dying to get home'?

But then I stopped myself from attempting it, to conceal my panic.I did not want myself to look vulnerable.

A thousand thoughts flashed before me.

I missed my mom in the midst of the  scariest day of my life.

Time moved on,each minute seemed liked a million years.For the next 10 minutes I kept waiting with fear. And then I saw the men approaching the bus.

The bus started again and the conductor went back to his seat.

I felt relieved by now.Soon the bus moved through and the places became familiar.

I thanked god for being my savior.

There was a call from my father to know where I reached.I asked him to wait for me at the city.

We soon reached the city.Though it was nearly 9PM,I had nothing to worry.If these men have not harmed me this far,they wouldn't dare to do it in the city.

As soon as we hit the city lights,we could see a traffic jam formed.

I remembered then that the President is in the city to inaugurate a research center and this could be the reason for the block.During the wait,I thought about the pain and fear

 women go through each day while they travel alone at night.

There was a bit of a delay in the jam, but I was more relaxed than ever.Little while later the bus started moving,though slowly due to heavy block.

I reached the spot I had to get down after a really long journey through the nooks and corners of the district.

Through the window,I could see my father impatiently waiting for me.I waved at him with such excitement that one would do when they meet their 

dear ones after a long gap.

I just saw him in the morning,but still the excitement was high.

I got down and caught his hands.The last time I walked holding his hand was when I was a kid.

I can't remember the conversation we had during the walk.But after crossing the road,I turned around and looked at the conductor.

The man was also looking at me.When our eyes met, he was smiling.His eyes reflected the same care and protection which a father shows to his daughter.

I smiled at him with gratitude.

When I went to sleep at night,I prayed for his well being.

Years later while I am penning this,I do not remember his face.But I cannot forget his gentleness.There was never a moment when these men made me feel insecure.

Never a wrong look passed or a wrong word spoken.A dignified distance maintained all across to a frail girl who could have been easily taken captive.

I do not know many men who would have behaved the same under such a situation.

This is not a #MeToo story.But just to a piece of writing to reassure women that good men are not extinct.Not all men make #MeToo's.

Author
Sreelekshmi
Author's Email
sreelekshmi131@gmail.com
Author's Phone No
7736312328
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