by Chryselle D’Silva Dias
I was a schoolgirl when I first experienced harassment on public buses in Mumbai. I still remember the red double-decker #361, the conductor with the pock-marked face and thick black moustache not moving an inch to let me get through, pressing himself against me every time I got on the bus. As a 13-year-old, I was horrified, scared, furious, and alone. Missing that bus was not an option – it would make me late for tuitions*, or worse early, where waiting for class to begin meant dealing with even more unwanted attention. One day, though, I had had enough. When the conductor came too close for comfort, I stamped his foot hard. He cried out in pain and complained. “Why did you do that? Can’t you see where you are going?” he asked. “You know why I did that,” I replied. He shut up then, and never touched me again.