StorySpace - Kamakshi
Kamakshi was sitting in the corner of the small one room tenement, reading from the light of a single bulb that hung on the beam of the ceiling. This was a habit she could not give up. I mean her reading habit!
Her mother didn’t understand how much joy it gave her to read stories of places and people. She literally felt like she was in the book, traveling and speaking like the characters. Going far and away from this small room and all the hardships she saw her mother facing everyday.
Kamakshi, a voice called her from outside and she recognized it immediately as Thanigai.
"Che" was the first word that escaped her mouth. She couldn’t stand this guy. He lived in their neighborhood and ran the vegetable shop. Whenever he was free he came to their house, to talk to her mother, to bring her some free vegetables and flash his teeth at her. But Kamakshi knew he wanted something more than just to talk and the free vegetables was not given out of some concern for her widowed mother or her. He made her feel uneasy and unsafe.
The reason was also one day he had boarded the bus along with her, when she was going to school. She had not bothered about him being there in the bus, it was exam time and in spite of the crowded bus she had opened her book and was reading her notes, standing and with one hand holding the seat in front. That is when she had felt him at the back, standing so close and pressing himself to her. It had made her feel so sick and disgusted. She had tried to move away, thinking it was the crowded bus that had made him fall on her but he continued to press himself to her.
She wanted to hit him, but her hand just couldn’t move, she just glared at him, but he gave her such an innocent smile…
Should I tell my mother? After all he has not done anything to me yet, is it too soon to tell my mother?
Dear Kamakshi trust your instincts and feelings. No one should touch or get close to your body without your permission.
You have every right to protect yourself and keep yourself SAFE. You can raise your hand and ask the person to STOP and shout a loud NO when confronting such a person who is attempting to make you feel Unsafe.
Then find a person who you can TRUST , who makes you feel SAFE and share what happened along with sharing your feelings.
Remember the more we hide such behaviors and keep it a Secret, we will only be making the Person think he or she can get away with anything. Remember to remove the weed with the roots.
Kamakshi told her mother about Thanigai's behaviour. But her mother asked her not to make this a big issue as Thanigai was a powerful man in the locality.
Kamakshi decided to tell her school teacher who then helped her tell this to their school Principal. They formed a group and started actively talking about Child Safety. They reached out to the local police station as a group to give talks and demonstrations of public harassment of children. They did similar talks and educated the Transport Corporation as well.
By talking about this and not hiding behind with fear, Kamakshi helped many other girls from such a predicament.
Be SMART - Scream/ Say NO , Move Away, Actively Resist, Remember it is never your fault, Tell someone you TRUST.
SMART is an acronymn devised by Muktha Foundation to empower children on Child safety)
This is a story recorded for Buguri Radio, Bangalore
(No part of this story bares any resemblance to living persons, it is a figment of my imagination based on true incidents that may have occurred)
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