It was in the Seventh Grade. It was the time of the final exams. Students are usually shuffled and sent to different classes and blocks to write their papers. We had to sit with the students who were older than us (like in the 8th and 9th STD.).
The desks and the benches of my school were very small. We were three people sitting on one bench. Literally being squeezed.
I was sitting on the second bench, beside the wall, between two boys. One of the boy was a little on the heavier side and the other was thin. The hefty boy didn’t have enough place to sit. So he asked the supervisor to change his place. And the supervisor did.
We stood up for the daily prayers and the national anthem. After those were done, we settled down on our respective places. I preferred to sit leaning on the wall. The supervisor distributed the papers and made some announcements like the time (3 hrs.) and writing our correct roll number, class and subject on the answer sheet, no copying, etc.
When the starting bell rang, she distributed the question paper to everyone. Each person started sincerely writing their answers. Some eyes were wandering here and there for help. I, too, was busy answering the paper. I had Maths paper that day and I knew I couldn’t waste time looking here and there or else I wouldn’t be able to complete my paper.
Suddenly I felt something on my leg. At first I thought it must be some insect crawling on my leg, but when I looked down it was the feet of the guy sitting beside me. I gave him a stern look and he removed his leg. At once I knew his intentions were not right.
I got scared. I wasn’t a chirpy girl. I usually used to remain very silent. I would feel bad soon and start crying. I used to remain aloof. I was kind of an introvert.
I thought to myself that he wouldn’t do it again now that I gave him a stern look. I continued with my paper. But I was wrong. Again I found his feet on my legs. This time he had removed his sandals. I told him to take his leg away or else I would complain to the supervisor.
But it didn’t seem to bother him. He slowly starting going north. He reached upto my thigh. I raised my hand and called the supervisor.
I told the supervisor that the guy was troubling me and I was feeling very uncomfortable. But I didn’t know that he was her favorite student.
She smiled at him and said, “Why are you troubling kids? Ignore it and continue writing,” and went away. That’s it. No warning, nothing.
He looked at me and gave me a dirtiest smile. The most evil grin I had ever seen. I didn’t know what to do. The boys sitting on the bench behind mine were watching all this but didn’t seem to care. They were busy copying.
I was very scared. My hands were cold and I was shivering in fear. I couldn’t hold the pen. I couldn’t write anything.
I tried to shift here and there but it was useless. I even warned him I would complain to the principal but he didn’t seem to care. He passed some lewd comment. He was like, “Do what you want to do. Nobody gives a shit about you.”
The continuous wandering of his feet on my skin was terrible. I can’t describe how disgusted I felt. I just felt like cutting that piece of skin away from my body. Even right now, while writing this I feel disgusted.
I stood up and decided to ask the supervisor to change my seat. But in turn she howled at me saying I was creating a drama and disturbing other students.
I was in tears. Finally I decided to submit my paper incomplete. It was better to fail in this paper than to suffer this. I got up but he didn’t give me way to move out. He was like “Why are you leaving so fast, wait and enjoy.”
The teacher didn’t accept my answer sheet. She said it wasn’t even an hour and I couldn’t leave so early. I told her I was feeling sick. But she didn’t seem to care.
I sat there and tried answering my paper, with tears flowing down my cheeks. For the next two hours I sat there helplessly as he kept touching me inappropriately.
After the exam, I ran straight into the washroom and locked myself. I poured water all over the places I was touched. I cried bitterly.
I went home. I didn’t eat anything. My mother had cooked prawn biryani (my favourite food). I didn’t even touch it. She noticed something was wrong but I was too afraid to tell her anything. I told her I was feeling ill and that I didn’t want to go to school the next day. I quietly went in my room and slept.
I woke up very late in the evening. Quietly went into the bathroom and had bath. I didn’t speak to anyone. My mother had got sev puri for me. But I didn’t even feel like touching it. At that time my cousin’s wife returned from work (I live in a joint family). When my mother told her about my behaviour, she took me into a room and asked what happened.
I couldn’t hold back my tears. I broke down. I told her each and everything that happened. She was furious. She consoled me and went out and calmly explained the situation to my mother so that my mother doesn’t panic.
That night I had very high fever. My mother fed me and at night she caught me tight and slept with me.
The next morning I went to school a little early than usual. My cousin’s wife and my mother came along with me.
We met the principal. I told her everything that happened. My principal was very supportive. Immediately she took an action against that boy. He was given a very strict warning of being expelled from the school. Even the supervising teacher received a warning.
My seat was changed. From that day on till my exams got over my principal visited my block every now and then to keep a check on me. She was extremely caring and supportive.
After the exams my vacations began. I went for a trip and put all this behind me. I saw that boy many times in the next year. He didn’t change. He would put his arms around his female friends and fondle their breasts or slap them on their butt, etc. They didn’t seem to mind as they thought it was a friendly gesture. Luckily he seemed to ignore me. He never interacted with me till this day. I haven’t seen him after I finished my schooling.
I have never spoken about this incident to anyone and this is the first time after almost 10 years I am sharing this incident. I have changed a lot. Now I have the courage to defend myself. To speak up against anything that makes me uncomfortable.
Keeping quiet and suffering is not the solution to the problems. I urge young girls and women around me to speak up if something wrong is happening to you. And to know the difference between casual friendship and sexual harassment.