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I’ve lived in Delhi for five years.

Over a thousand girls raped in five years.

I’m very fortunate I think.

It’s been ten years since I left Delhi but I still clearly remember my days spent there. Honestly, those were some of the best days of my life. My undergrad years! I lived in a girls’ hostel on my college campus. It was my home away from home for five years. Even thinking of those times takes me back to moments that I hold so precious. Of course an architecture graduate can never forget the night-outs, the exams, the submissions, the models and not to mention the parties! Ah, the smell of glue and the touch of rice paper! It was a high adrenaline roller coaster of sorts. Many lifetime friendships were made and some broken there. Yes, I do remember all of it quite vividly.

These were the good memories. There are some not so good ones as well-  the constant eve-teasing, harassing comments and less than low remarks I used to hear every time I crossed the street or used a public bus. I’m sure most girls/women living in Delhi face this everyday; and this is not confined to Delhi. I remember I carried a small box cutter with me in buses and autos. I remember almost using it once or twice.

Obviously, it outraged me. I hated it. I used to feel like punching those a**holes in their ‘youknowwheres’ and shoving it in their faces. I was very tempted at times. But I never retaliated. I don’t know anyone who did. Never even tried. Was I right not to? Was it okay not to respond to those gropings and brushings and teasings and such? Not with even a push? Let alone a punch or a slap? But isn’t that what we are taught?

We are supposed to look the other way. We are supposed to get back home before dark. We are supposed to dress conservatively (well, who gets to define that?). We are supposed to ignore. Well, ignored we have! But why do we do it? Why are we always quiet? Why don’t we stop it right when it starts?

Every time a man eve-teases or harasses a girl and gets away with it he gets a little closer to raping another.

I feel ashamed today that I never fought back. It scares me to the core to imagine what if the person who once teased me may be raped someone because he was even more encouraged? What if I could have stopped that?