I like daydreaming. I dream of a perfect world every day. I picture myself waking up and getting dressed for college. I throw on a crop top and a tight pair of shorts.
In the kitchen, my single mother hastily cooks breakfast, trying not to be late for work. She is excited to live yet another day and earn the money she deserves. She hands me my tiffin box.
I leave home and board the local train, which although crowded, manages to fit me in when the men shuffle and adjust amongst themselves to give me enough space to stand firm. I glance at them warmly and thankfully.
Upon reaching, I am approached by a senior who confesses his attraction towards my kind personality and smart wits. I tell him, I am flattered but politely decline his offer for a date. His face looks saddened yet understanding. He smiles and walks away. I move on and continue with my day.
It’s 9’o clock. I’m headed home. I choose the shorter route today, the one less traveled by. The darkness seems to obstruct my view of the cold, empty and unfamiliar streets but in the blur of the evening, I manage to spot three men near a dumpster to my left. They start approaching me.
“You look confused, ma’am,” one of them says from a distance, “let us help you.”
I nervously tell them my home address and they help me with the directions.
I thank them and reach home. I sleep soundly in the comfort of my bed, excited for the next day.
A perfect dream, isn’t it? My life seemed so easy and relaxed. But is this the reality?
In actuality, my story would be completely different.
I couldn’t wear “revealing” clothes to college without the anxiety of being dress coded or catcalled, creeping in my mind. I wouldn’t have smiled in the mirror, never.
My mother wouldn’t be happy to go to work, she would instead be complaining about the wage gap and workplace harassment. Her being a single mother would mean her being an inherent victim of judgmental comments by our close-minded society.
She would’ve handed me a pepper spray, not a lunch box. Why? you would ask. Because when I would’ve boarded that train, I would’ve been squeezed and groped by any man who could get his hands on me, for it would’ve been the perfect opportunity for him. I would’ve looked into his eyes with disgust and fear.
The senior whom I rejected, would have called me derogatory terms for rejecting him and would’ve attempted to force or threaten me. He would accuse me of “friend zoning” him. I wouldn’t have been able to go about my day after it.
I would’ve never chosen an empty dark street and would be absolutely dreading what was to come as I saw strange men walk towards me. I’m not the one to blame: Obviously enough they would’ve abused, raped or possibly killed me.
I couldn’t have slept that night. I would’ve lied wide awake thinking about how men have destroyed my life. I would cry myself to sleep with the last thoughts on my mind being ones involving suicide. My will to live would’ve died.
I would spend my days making up a safe, gender-equal world in my mind that can only be dreamt of.
Every girl has at least once in her lifetime faced a situation created by men and their misogynistic mindsets that made her feel the void created by sexism. So, maybe it is true what people say – “not all men are bad”. But every girl has seen one.
So this is the story of us, the ones who scream and scream and scream for help and yet whose voices aren’t heard.
This is the story of us, who have no place in the social hierarchy made up by those who hate us.
This is the story of us, who spend our days in fear and shame and endless discrimination.
This is the story of us, who were killed before even born, who fought for our right to study, who were hit by our boyfriends and husbands, who were eve-teased and harassed by our bosses and uncles and strangers, who were raped and mutilated and eventually died, and us, who were then blamed for what happened to us.
This is the story of us, who are neither men nor female celebrities, the only two groups which have a voice powerful enough to reach out to everyone.
We are females, the common ones. We are those considered unimportant but whose absence will make the world stop spinning. We are those whose power can destroy all, but who are forced to hide it. We are those who are compared to Goddesses and Queens and then treated like animals.
So here’s the question: Who represents us?
The stories of a common man matter. But so do those of common women. This is the story of us.