There are a lot of happier things I wanted to write about. But that will have to wait.
Shit happens. We all know that. And it happens at the worst possible times. We all know that too. But we are never really equipped to deal with it.
Yesterday, I took an auto on my general route to work. I have been doing this everyday for more than a year more or less peacefully (save a few minor squabbles over excess fare). The auto driver was youngish, wasn't wearing his uniform, wasn't displaying the neccessary registration details and had a cocky swagger. It didn't matter to me when I got on. As long as he takes me to his destination, the rest is none of my business.
Halfway through, I noticed that the meter was running high. I chose to give him the benefit of doubt and let it be. But at a certain point, around a kilometre from my workplace, when the meter showed up to Rs.20/- excess, I made myself vocal. I told him I take the route everyday and that his meter is showing a higher reading. He stopped the auto and told me amongst a lot of other things which I didn't fully comprehend (I don't understand Kannada very well) to pay and leave. I told him I would pay only the correct amount upto that point. He argued more. I told him to go to the police station. While staring lewdly, he said that a police station was in a far off place and asked me if I would come there. By this point my inner sensors were already screaming themselves hoarse. It was more of his body language and his gaze. I got down immediately.
I went around and took a photo of his number plate, which is when it all happened. He saw me doing that and jumped out and started abusing me. He almost came to hit me. And then he said 'Should I open my pants?'.
I was too shocked to even respond to him. I ran across the busy road and stopped another auto. I saw this guy looking at me from across the road. I told this other guy what happened, and started crying while doing so. It just didn't stop. Soon another person stopped and asked me what happened, I told him. And then another. And another. Soon a crowd had gathered. The son of a bitch was watching this from across the road and had the nerve to cross the road in his auto and parked a little ahead of where we all were. All the people moved towards him and started threatening him. It was all a blur then. I stood there very scared and very angry. The crowd got the guy out of his auto. As he came towards me, I got scared again and stood behind somebody. He asks me in a threatening 'What did I do? Why are you making a scene?'. The crowd then all yelled at him and said that they saw what happened and that he bloody well apologize. He said 'Ok fine sorry. Now go'. I was too scared to react, fight and demand a better apology. I doubt I would have got it then.
A kind gentleman dropped me to work and attempted to calm me down. He gave me his number and told me to contact him if there was any more trouble.
I sat shaking in work and then spoke to a friend. While I was beating myself up for crying and not having the guts to do enough, she told me that I did the best I could and that she was proud of me. When I later spoke to Manj, he said that if I wanted to do something about it, I shouldn't waste anymore time. I decided that I wanted to give a police complaint about this.
To cut the long story short, I went to the police station and filed an NCR. Not an FIR. And I do not know what exactly the difference is. Contrary to the general perceptions of police stations, the cops were attentive, polite and helpful. And no, I did not pay a bribe. They told me that I should not worry and they would take care of things. They promised that they would trace him out soon and deal with him. Right now, I choose to trust them.
I choose to fight this and not let it go. I want action against that guy. And I will not drop it.
Am I scared? Hell, yeah! Stepping on to the road is an achievement in itself now.
But I also don't want to operate from the fear psychosis. I don't want to change the way I live because of this.
And just to add, my support system is to die for. People were just there. No questions asked. I really don't know if I could have done this without them.
Also, the total strangers who fought with the auto driver, showed me again, that my faith in humanity is not misplaced.