Two years back I was in a DTC (Delhi Transport Corporation) bus heading towards Connaught Place (CP) with a friend of mine. Mistakenly, we had occupied the row of seats meant for ladies (with ‘mahila’ – meaning lady written above the seats). As the bus stopped by a station, two young ladies got on the bus. My friend sitting next to me offered them his seat as they were standing near us. To my amazement, one of them, who looked quite confident, said a no-no to his offer and told him that they believed in equality and not in reservation. Instantly, a sense of respect rose inside me for that lady, who said no to the male chauvinism. I started thinking – yes, the new generation has arrived and now each and every girl will challenge the boy of her age. They will replace and rout the male hegemony.
As we neared the next stop, few fat ladies embarked the bus. With more people getting inside, they were standing next to us. This time, neither of us offered them the seats. To my horror, one of them raised the hell there. We were tagged being insensitive and all other passengers started to yell at us for not respecting the ladies. They again and again uttered the word ‘reservation’ and ‘meant for a woman’. Immediately, we sprang out of the seats and stood clinching the rod attached to the bus roof. We were looking down with mortification. I thought – how insensitive the women could be, they talk about equality and in the meantime say all these nasty things and take the benefit of being a woman. I had the feeling, nothing has changed at all. I could see the two young ladies smiling mischievously at us.
These days whenever, I get on a local transport, I always try to take a seat which has no ‘mahila’ written above it. The ghost of the fat lady in the DTC bus hounds me all the time, I travel in buses. There are times when I see young and old ladies clinging to the rod attached to the bus roof while the insensitive men are sitting nonchalantly on the seats meant for ladies. They don’t even leave the seats for old women and ladies carrying children. At such times, I remember the fat lady and feel like telling the standing women to raise their voice and take the seats meant for them. Then again, I think of the young lady, who said no to male ego and pull myself back. I then feel that, yes, we all are equal and even the girls should stand tall along with the boys.