"I was 7 when it happened, but I still remember it like it was yesterday. One morning when I was going home, I got into the lift, and the milkman got in too. I didn't give it a second thought because I saw him on a regular basis.
But he cornered me and slid his hand under my frock. I tried moving backward, but there wasn't any space to move further away from him and it was terrifying. Luckily, by that point, the lift stopped at my floor, and I ran out. I was shaken, I felt dirty, but I didn't tell anyone because I was afraid of what he'd do to me, if I told on him. So I just let it go.
But it happened again when I was 9. I'd joined a table tennis class, but the coach was very creepy- he'd pretend to teach us the right way to hold a racquet, but he'd touch us inappropriately. He had even grabbed me tightly from behind under the guise of coaching. He did it to all the kids, but none of us ever spoke about it, because we never realized it was wrong.
For the longest time, I felt like it was all in my head. In those days, openly talking about such things wasn't encouraged.
Soon after, Crime Patrol started airing on TV - watching it worried my father enough that he asked me to join a martial arts class. Initially I wasn't into it, but when I realized that it was making me more confident, I started taking more interest. But one incident cemented my resolve to get really good at it. I travel often by local trains, where being groped by men is way too common.
I felt like I was finally in a place where I wasn't helpless, but empowered. These things didn't bog me down, I had a renewed spirit in me that helped me fight back. I felt like I needed to help others like me find a voice, to stand up to men who looked at us as objects.
So I put all my heart and soul into learning and now, teaching martial arts. Today I've taught over 600 kids. It helps me sleep at night knowing that if someone misbehaves with them, they know that they can fight back."
Humans of Bombay, Fb
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