Five years back I was hit on the head by a drunk man at the signal on the Gandhi Road in Velachery, Chennai, barely 100m away from my destination, Velachery gate, IIT Madras campus.
I was on phone, and was describing how a young man was acting particularly strange, trying to poke and disturb the bus driver of a bus that had a short halt at the signal. Soon, I saw him approach me, I moved and made way way for him. It was just too sudden, I was hit on my head. My friend, at the other end of the phone could hear the sound, and then it was only the sound of traffic. He could not hear my voice.
It took me full 5 minutes, and so many calls from my friend to slowly come to my senses. The time was 6:35pm, February 2011. Sun was still there, few street lights were also glowing. One of the most crowded signals here, filled with young and old, men and women, bustling with activity.
I could not sit up. The impact of the hit was pretty severe. I was expecting someone to help me get up, I wanted some water, I wanted to cry. I felt SHAME. Shame for not reacting. Shame because no one helped me. I was ashamed to be left all alone. Even, before I could make sense of anything else, SHAME engulfed me.
Soon, I could hear voices around me, few women stared at me, few men looked all confused, 3 young men (around 18-20 years) came closer and said, “Macha, no one cares that she’s been hit. Anyways, she’s on the floor and ready for more. Let’s do whatever we want, no one would care again.”
I just froze, I don’t know for how long. Suddenly an old man, a shopkeeper who had been witnessing all of these told me, “Just go away somewhere and be safe. This place isn’t good. All are under the influence of alcohol. The guy who hit you was taken away by his friend. He won’t harm you further, but others can. I have to leave, don’t get me involved in this.”
I don’t know where I got the energy from. Next I remember, I am running towards IIT gate. I got inside. Sight of the security guards made me feel safe, but I chose not to tell them. I did not want to answer why I was outside campus alone after 6pm. No, we are not forbidden to do that. I regularly used to go to a cafe outside campus, and mostly alone, and would not return before 7pm usually.
My phone was still ringing, my head was hurting bad. I talked to my friend. Told him what happened. He was already on his way. He told me to call other friends too. I called another guy who stayed outside campus. He brought in one more friend who knew Tamil.
My head hurt bad, but there was no visible injury. I was asked to take an X-ray, since the hit made me unconscious.
We went to the Velachery police station and gave a complaint. Initially, they refused to believe me. They judged me because I went with 3 male friends and no female friend to report this. They told that the spot had a TASMAC shop and that it could have been some drunk guy for sure. They made me go with them to identify the attacker. We insisted that all of us would go together. We got to know that IIT campus which has so many other schools and colleges nearby, and is located within the Institutional Area, filled with more than 100 institutes, had at least 6 TASMAC shops around it. After few days of persistence, lack of any leads, ignorance from police and discouragement from all those who were close to me, I gave up on the case.
Five years have passed, the injury healed, the story’s been shared so many times, but still the SHAME remains, because every time people say “somebody could have helped you then”; but no one has ever said, “had I been a witness, I’d have done ………………”
STOP BEING SILENT… IT DOES NOT HELP… SPEAK UP and REACT