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International Men's Day Treat - What I saw in broad Daylight

On International Men’s Day, I happened to travel from Barpeta to Guwahati, the former being a sleepy town some 100 kilometers west of the state capital. Travelling in a Force Traveller, which has a capacity of 20 passengers, we took the distorted State Highway 2. Roads were bumpy and narrow, leaving no scope for the driver to improvise beyond the third gear. But despite this horribly bumpy ride, some of the passengers managed to fall asleep and I too was just seconds away from getting my much needed power nap.

Whip! A sound of tight slap woke us all. The entire van turned around and to the horror of all, a passenger on the last seat slapped his wife, right left and center. And in a split second, he started punching her. None of us reacted. For someone like me, I could not even believe that this was happening. The silence continued as the man, probably in his late 20s, started hitting his wife, probably of the same age, with a baby his hand.

As most people looked on; nobody thought of stopping the guy, or at least nobody did. It certainly looked wrong to me and I decided to intervene. Screaming at the top of my voice, I had to threaten the man to stop, else he would face consequences.

He did stop, probably got a little scared too. He started justifying, “I am a cab driver and I drive in Guwahati. I wanted to leave her at home as I can’t take her to the city, but she just refuses to stay with my parents.” As he ended his sentence, in a reflex he punched her on the face. The woman kept on weeping, without saying single word.

I shouted again, and threatened to call the police if he raised his hand once again. He gave me the ‘don’t you dare’ look. I knew he would not listen. I had to pull something different out of the hat to stop this menace. “You think you are the man, right? Come on, let’s have a fight,” I said and I have no idea why I did. The guy was taller than me and looked stronger. He could have easily beaten the shit out of me if we had a fight. But it worked. He did get a little scared and said sorry.

In the meantime, the entire van was just a spectator to the event. No one said anything. But once he sat, a passenger sitting right next to the driver laughed and shouted, “Haha. Go home and beat the shit out of her, do it behind the close doors. This is the way you should control a woman.”

Sounds sarcastic, right? Even I thought so. But he meant it. I kid you not; it came in as the rudest shock to me that he actually meant it. “Any woman who defies her husband should be given such doses. Else they become uncontrollable. And if that happens, you just become puppets of your wife.” He continued.

An older man sitting right opposite me smirked listening to this and said, “Ask me about it.”
I was almost at a loss of words. These comments boasted the confidence of the husband who just indulged in domestic violence in public and started ranting about his wife, who apparently does not listen to him.

“I know such women. You did the right thing, brother,” said the same guy sitting near the driver to the husband, but looking straight into my eyes. It seems he mocked me for taking a stand.

I had no idea what to say. Sometimes you just know whatever you do; you just can’t challenge the mentality of some people. In a single line, the person vomited the hegemonic patriarchal notions he had within himself and generalized all women to one character. And you know what’s worse? Many in the van agreed to it.

Think about the poor woman here, head buried in shame as she cried her heart out. No one knew her side of the story, yet they took a stand that made her more vulnerable to violence. And the helpless me could do nothing as the both the men bundled up to character assassinate almost every woman they knew in the society.

With no explanations working, I had to say something and I did. “How about a trip to the jail?” I asked. Both of them were shell shocked as they exclaimed. In an unfortunate turn of events I used my class card and said, “See, I am obviously more resourceful than you guys. I can make a call and put you guys behind the bars or maybe even get to some police affection.? And if your wife testifies to violence, then you are gone for good,” I continued. “I can actually make this happen with just phone call here,” I stressed again.

Their tones changed here. “That’s total misuse of your position and power, sir,” said the guy sitting next to driver. This time I smirked and said, “And this is so unfortunate that you don’t seem to see the misuse of power and position in the other case.”

I don’t know if he understood what I said or was it just the jail threat that silenced both the men. The woman was too ashamed and sad to respond. I don’t know what happened to her at home. But what I know is the sad fact that no one paid any heed when a distressed woman was beaten in broad daylight, in front of a public.

Happy International Men’s Day.


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