The best of intentions are often victims of perception and it’s really nobody’s fault that the next man has often got to carry the burden of the sinners before him. Not fair? Sure. Wanna sue? Go ahead, wimps. Because the underlying word is man – which means taking it on the bloody chin, and the nose, if required.
Well, nothing that dramatic happened, at least not physically.
Waiting at the platform, after the day’s work was done, like several others for the next train to roll in, in my hurry to grab the handle of the coach to be the first to occupy the standing spot near the entrance as that facilitates easy exit at the destination, I made contact with two pairs of female eyes, both wearing khaki trousers. Another sat on a seat within my peripheral vision. There are very few times I have been frozen with fear – and all the times that I have been in such a state, it’s always been in the presence of the double X chromosome! Darn! I muttered, I had entered the ladies first class compartment and was expecting not just the choicest abuses but also a sound thrashing.
The head started spinning – which was probably the best thing, as it slowly brought into prime focus images of men, standing, sitting, talking. Man! I have never been more glad at the sight of a male than on that almost-horrific night! It was, Lord be thanked, the gents’ first class compartment after all!
I still have nightmares of how it could all have ended up in me becoming the lead headline in your own paper the next day – and to think that it’s running a daily campaign on women safety! Life could have been nearly, and comically, ironic – not so much for me, but for my editors!
What I also remember distinctly is the sharp look of contempt from one of the women off-duty cops – as if I was violating something very personal of hers, or was she coloured by the perception of every man being a physical threat to a women’s safety? Which is basically what threw me off-balance – lucky both my legs were inside the coach or else it would have been the rag pickers as my pall bearers! Close shave, and no pun intended – certainly not for me and I am not even hazarding a guess about that cop. Allah be praised!