A chill went through her spine when she saw those scary red eyes in dark. He was looking a little different in a fully grown beard look but how can she forget those fierce eyes. Her cousin asked her, “Radha what happened to you? Suddenly you are looking so pale”. She said, “Nothing, let’s go home” and hurriedly entered in the car.
One distant sight of this man instantly took her a year back when this all started. Radha was a 19 years old, second year Bsc computer science student. She used to stay in a girls hostel located in central Nagpur. She has already spent a year in this city and made some good friends in her hostel and college. She was a fair student in her class but computer programming was making her life a little difficult. To cope up with the terror of her upcoming semester papers, she decided to join a computer course on programming skills and C++. The computer institute was located almost 3-4 km from her hostel in the plush locality of Ramdaspeth. For her it was an eventful walk of almost half an hour. The entire route was full of confectionary shops, dry cleaners, furniture showroom, Archie’s gift store, Panchsheel Movie Theater and three major traffic signals. Her computer class timings were from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM which was convenient for her as her last lecture at college ends by 3:00 PM. And she can return back to her hostel comfortably before the warden’s deadline time 7:00 PM. In girl’s hostel they say that it is a bad world out there which girls should not see after 7:00 PM as it gets scary as hell. Howsoever, Radha was always tempted to venture out after 7:00 o clock to get a hang of the “bad world”, she never dared to do it.
On the day one of her new class, Radha entered CCIT computer institute and she was greeted by the pretty girl sitting at reception. She said pointedly to move to the first floor for the class. Radha was thinking about Padma’s (the reception girl) job, “it’s so comfortable, just sit and smile. Wow, earning money is not that difficult in this world as they say!” Just when she was imagining herself spinning in Padma’s revolving chair, a gentle voice said. “Hello everyone, I am Rahul and I will teach you C++”. Radha was looking at Rahul sir and she was wondering that after completing this course if she could replace him as well. Finally, after an hour the class was over and she left the institute with dreamy eyes of getting a job of a receptionist cum faculty in CCIT.
Next day on her way to CCIT, she noticed that there was a guy who was following her. After spending a year in this city, she was used to get followed or to hear unruly comments on roads. She did not find this alarming and moved on for her class. While her way back to hostel, she found the same guy standing at the corner of the road and he started following her again. Radha’s hostel girl’s had a name for these kinds of guys, RR– “Road Romeos”. She ignored him altogether and speedily moved towards her hostel. To her surprise, this guy has started chasing her to college, grocery shops, computer class, and telephone booths. Whenever, she used to come out of her hostel gate, RR was there as if he never left. Now she knew how he looks like in that dirty black shirt, faded grey jeans and those scary red eyes. He started blowing air-kisses and lewd comments. This continued for almost one month and by the end of it Radha never wanted to go out of her room alone. She was confused and scared if her buaji who was staying in the same city or her friends will find this out, they might get her wrong. Or worse, her parents might call her back home and she had to leave her dreams of higher studies.
Her roommate Alisha noticed this change in Radha and asked her, “What’s going on with you these days?” Radha knew that Alisha will not budge without finding out the reason and told her the entire story. Alisha got furious on Radha’s stupidity for letting this happen for entire one month and came up with a solution. Next day onwards, Alisha and Geeta started accompanying Radha to her institute and they used to wait there until Radha was done with her class. While returning, they noticed that RR was standing outside with two more Romeo kinds. Girl’s gang was enraged by RR’s demeaning act and was a little concerned on how-will-this-end part. They saw the RR troupe heading their way. A guy in a blinding orange colored shirt took out a knife and waved in Alisha’s direction. They pushed her and quickly moved in other direction. All girls were static and frightened by this sudden attack. No one was physically hurt but all of them were wounded. They have never imagined that a group of road rotten guys can scare them just by showing a small weapon.
Next morning, Alisha called up her uncle who was also her local guardian from hostel’s common room phone. By that time, Radha had made her mind to leave CCIT classes and all dreams of computer programming. That evening, Alisha took Radha to her uncle’s house for a night out. Ashutosh uncle was a jovial man and his wife was very welcoming. They both sat with the girls and listened to the entire story. Uncle told these girls to be brave and face the world head-on but tactfully. Radha felt a little confident by his encouraging words. They all made a plan to tackle this “RR” situation.
There were another two girls Bidisha and Priya who accompanied Radha to CCIT along with Alisha and Geeta. They have picked up some round stones from their hostel campus. When they came out of the hostel, there was no sign of the Romeos. They cautiously walked towards the computer institute and were stressed if their plan will not work out. Radha attended the class for the sake of it but her mind was floating on streets. She could sense that Rahul sir was not happy with her incomplete assignments. But programming lessons is not something she was worried about at that hour. When these girls came out of the institute, Radha pointed in the direction where she saw another 5 boys waiting at the end of the road along with the original RR. There was no sign of uncle and his friend who were supposed to be there by 6:00 PM to get hold of these boys. Suddenly these girls started heading speedily in that direction. This was not in the plan but who cares for the plan now. All 5 girls started running towards the RR gang with stones in their hands and to their surprise the boys started running in opposite direction. The main traffic signal on the merging road to Wardha Road turned green. Girls were frantically running towards the gang of RRs. Commuters on scooters, bikes and autowallahs started shouting on these girls as they were running all over the central city square. Alisha caught hold of the original Romeo and held him by his shirt’s collar. She banged him on the traffic light pole. Other girls joined Alisha and started throwing stones on this guy. By then, huge crowd was gathered near the traffic pole and they started beating this guy. Then Alisha’s uncle and his friend appeared and took him to an auto to save him from mass beating. He asked the girls what to do and all said in unison, “Take him to police”. On their way to police station, Alisha’s uncle told the girls that his car got punctured mid-way and he could not reach on time.
Inside Police station
Phataaaakkk…A tight slap was planted on Romeo’s left cheek and then next on his right one…Police enquiry room was full with the slap sound vibrations. Radha could not comprehend what just happened. She could not bear to see the beatings anymore and moved out of the room. They launched a formal FIR and she heard that he will be in jail for at least next 6 months.
When the girls reached their hostel, the tale of RR gang’s outcome was making its rounds on each floor. They received a heroic welcome by their hostel mates who have faced one or the other form of eve-teasing on streets.
Next day morning a small column came in the middle of the paper with a headline “Youth Teasing Hostel Girls Arrested”.
Radha continued her computer classes. But later when her father came to know about this instance, he moved her to a colony near her buaji’s house along with Alisha and Geeta.
The move from one locality to another did not change much in these girl’s lives but now they knew the magic of running towards their fears!!