11 years old. An age where children are engulfed in studies, school, friends, and games. It’s a carefree age. But it certainly is NOT an age when you indulge in eveteasing. It’s not the first time I have faced eveteasing. But it is the first time I was eveteased by an 11 year old boy!
This incident happened to me yesterday. I was passing through a dark and slightly lonely residential area. There were few other people on the road besides me. I had my earphones plugged in but without any music playing. I was walking past a parked tempo (a small van) where an 11 year old boy was perched atop it, with two of his younger friends sitting on the bonnet.
As I passed it, I heard the boy on top yell out “Preeti, Preeti” at first I thought he was calling out to his sister or friend of that name. He repeated “Preeti” and then continued it with “O ladki, aye ladki” (O girl, hey girl). That’s when I realised he was calling out ‘pretty, pretty‘. I was still registering this when he started singing a popular Bollywood movie song “O ladki beautiful, kar gayi chull” (O girl beautiful, she’s caused me an itch)
The word chull has various meanings, but the way he was singing it, it was extremely degrading. Loosely, ‘chull’ means having an itch that needs to be satisfied, like a desire to want something badly. Chull may also mean, a tease. Here’s a brief explanation of the meaning of the word ‘chull’ . Also found what the singer of the song said about the word ‘chull’ in an interview, here it is:
Kar Gayi Chull is a dance anthem where the guy talks about how pretty a girl is. He finds her so gorgeous that she has turned him crazy. She’s a tease and entices the men into thinking that she’s attracted to them.
In an interview with Rajeev Masand, Badshah spoke about Kar Gayi Chull – “The word Chull is a very North Indian word. It means teasing. It’s particularly a very NCR word” (New Delhi and Delhi).
Something snapped within me at that point. I went a few steps ahead, bent down and picked up a medium sized stone. Then I turned around and walked toward the singing boy atop the tempo, showing him the stone in my hand. “O ladki aa rahi hai, ladki aa rahi hai” (the girl is coming, the girl is coming” he yelled in a panic and started scrambling down the roof of the tempo. I strode toward him and unleashed my fury through a scathing, chilling verbal attack. I can’t remember all that I said. He started fleeing from me. I do remember asking him “Mummy kahai hai? Unko bol du tu ladkiyo ke saath kaise badtav karta hai?” (Where’s your mother? Should I tell her how you behave with girls?”
He sped off at full pace, I followed him and just remember warning him in seething cold fury “Khabardaar jo kabhi kisi ladki ke saath aise karoge.” (Dare you do anything like this to any girl). By then he had run off into a dark lane. His two young friends who had followed him half way, stood rooted to the spot as I stood there in complete rage. “Woh chala gaya didi” (He’s run off) said one. “Usko jaake bol de phir ki kabhi aise nahi kare” (Go and tell him then to not repeat this ever again) I replied.
I threw the stone near them with all my might, not to hit them, but to warn them to keep off from such behaviour.
I glared at them till they too took off. There were a few bystanders during this whole time who just watched as I dealt with these boys. No one said a word. I turned and continued my journey. As I walked, I was crying before I knew it. At first I cried because of the experience I had just gone through. I was eveteased not by an adult man but by a pre-teen. I then cried thinking that a boy as YOUNG as 11 YEARS OLD had dared, DARED to evetease a girl. That fact crushed me from within.
If a boy as young as 11 has started with eveteasing, who knows what he’ll do next? Molest, attack, kidnap, rape?
Like I said before, this is not the first time I was eveteased. Once before, I was rushing home one rainy night around 9:30 pm and was just a few metres away from my home. There was a group of 6-7 college boys on the other side of the road walking in the same direction as me. I had wrapped my white stole (a long scarf) around my head to protect me from the cold wind and was walking at top speed.
Suddenly, as I passed them they whispered amongst themselves, and from across the road sang a chorus of a 90s Bollywood song “O safed dupatte waali tera naam toh bata“. (O girl in the white scarf, tell me your name at least). The original song has ‘laal dupatte’ (red scarf) but they had replaced it with safed (white).
I ignored and walked faster till I reached my building and they continued singing the song and laughing behind me. I didn’t do anything because it was 1 against 6-7 on a rainy night with no other being in sight. It would have been courageous but stupid to take them on.
There is something fundamentally wrong with this attitude and perception males have from a young age that they can get away with anything when it comes to a girl. I feel that these boys and men get influenced by what is shown in the movies. In many movies, the boy stalks the girl, sings songs to her to make her fall for him, and does antics and what not to impress her. Worse yet, the girl falls for such guys in the movies. This depiction screws the boy’s and men’s minds into thinking that this IS the way to behave and treat girls.
We need to educate our boys.
We need to make them understand that eveteasing, sexual harassment, molestation, and rape are not some kind of game! We need schools to incorporate these lessons as a main subject at par with Maths, Science, and Language.
We need to teach our girls to stand up for themselves and stand up for women all around the world.
We need to make self-defence classes for girls a priority in schools. We need to give them all our help to counter such untoward incidents.
I was thinking to myself after the incident, what would have I done were it an adult man who eveteased me. Would I have had the same amount of guts to go after him? Maybe… maybe not. Maybe my adrenaline would give me the courage to go after him or maybe my instinct of self-preservation would kick in and I would ignore it, like many times before.
I have started over time to give it back to men who whistle or catcall me while speeding away in their cars and bikes. I am yet to confront men who do it as they walk past me.
The pain, disgust, and rage I felt at that time and everytime I have faced such an incident leaves me wondering where we went wrong as a society. As parents, teachers, principals, friends, and relatives? Where did we go wrong?
It’s up to us, each individual one to #CorrectOurBoys