The engine roared out loud as I increased the accelerator. I saw the light turn yellow out of the corner of my eye as soon as I took the turn. Phew. Made it in time. Well, almost. Because in less than a second, I got stopped by a traffic constable.
“Gaari rokain! Gaari rokain!”
It was summer 2012. I was driving home from college and in my desperate attempt to cross a traffic signal, I was brought to a halt by a policeman.
He tapped on my car’s windscreen. I let out an exasperated sigh before I rolled down the window.
“Haan jee. Driving license dikhain.”
My heart sank a little. I knew I had left my wallet at home.
“Gari kay kaghazaat dikhain.”
I opened the dashboard and all I found was a rusty screwdriver.
The constable looked at me with a raised eyebrow, slightly concerned now.
“Gari apki he hai naa?” he asked with a smirk on his face.
“Gari ka number yaad hai?”
Talk about remembering numbers now. I was clueless. I shrugged again.
I could tell the constable was intrigued now. He leaned on the windowsill and said, “Yeh gari kaheen chori ki tou nahin?”
He smiled smugly.
“Excuse me? Issue a ticket if you want to else I am going to drive away.” Having said that, I turned the key and the engine came to life.
“Aisay kaisay janay dain!” The constable grabbed my hand and tried to pull the key out. I jerked away his hand instantly, fuming. A brief heated argument followed. I immediately rolled up the window. Stay calm, I told myself. Meanwhile, an infinite number of curious spectators had gathered around my car.
“In khatoon kay pass driving license nahin aur gaari inho nay bhaganay ki koshish ki hai!” the constable went on like a broken record.
Now in a situation like this, there were two ways: a) to get out and give him a piece of my mind or b) To keep my cool and steer my way out of the situation without anyone getting hurt and come back later for him.
It surprised me how no one stepped in to pacify the situation.
I closed my eyes and silently prayed to God. There was no way I was getting out of my car and making a racket than what had already been created. I had to think sensible. I had to think rational. I had to calm down. I had to keep my cool. Because I was alone. There was a light tap on the window. I opened my eyes and rolled down an inch of the window.
“Madam jee, kiya socha hai aap nay? Hamaray pass tou time he time hai!”
I glared at him.
“Jo kerna hai aap ker lain. Hum tou idher he hain. Sara din aur sari raat.”
After an hour of what felt like an eternity, he issued me a ticket which had his personal number scribbled on the back.
I got home as fast as I could. My mind was numb. A hug from my mother was all I needed. I cried like a baby that day. I had never felt so vulnerable for being a woman. I had never felt so insecure. This incident made me a different person. Initially, it did leave a dent in my confidence but I came back stronger than ever. I thought to myself: I couldn’t let anyone deter me. I couldn’t let this episode break me. I decided not to let the matter go, and asked my family to pursue a complaint.The police officials were very understanding and supportive and vowed to get the bottom of this. A case of harassment and misconduct was filed against the constable and he was suspended from duty for 6 months.
We need to debunk the conventional idea that women are “vulnerable and weak”. They are not. I stand today as one confident and strong woman. I didn’t give up driving on the roads. I think like a man and act like a lady. I am a feminist who believes a woman shouldn’t ever let anybody doubt herself, in any way. Draw on your strengths within – do not fear the world or cower when being threatened. Hold your head high. Let there be no compromise on one’s self-respect and honour.
I completely resonate with Jane Austen on:
“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.”