"TICKET TO EQUALITY"
Like many other women who know that this frenzy wont last long, I begin to wonder what meaning does this day have in the lives of ordinary woman. Whenever I am faced with such questions, life always gives me the answer-somewhere, somehow, the answer lies in wait for me; this time it was no different.
Yesterday, having spent the whole day reading a book, I decide to go out for some shopping, though I dint really know what I wanted to buy! And the public buses were my favorite mode of transport here in pondicherry. Even if my dad offered to drop me in his bike, I would politely refuse, telling that it was my contribution towards reducing global warming, a miniscule contribution though.
As I walk towards the stop I remember how I used to dread going out when I was in Chennai for a year. The footboard travels on the buses which seemed to magically accommodate more and more passengers, jumping in and out of a moving train and the long arguments with the auto drivers to reduce the fares from highly unreasonable to moderately unreasonable were some harrowing experiences I recollect.
I reach my stop and in a few minutes a bus comes to halt in front of me. As I get in I hear a loud female voice telling us to make it fast. I have heard my mom tell me that ‘ladies only’ bus services started in pondy recently, but I never got the chance to travel in one, maybe this time I got lucky. As soon as I get in I look at the front and I see men too! And my lady conductor was busy with the ticket issuing. I just couldn’t take my eyes of her. She was around late twenties or early thirties, married, averagely built brown complexioned, like the kind of women you see selling flowers. She wore a salwar with kakhi shirt over it and showed due respect to the elderly and was stern with the unruly youth.
She was totally at ease commanding the men to produce their tickets if she had a doubt, made them follow the norms and restricted them to the place near the driver, no one was allowed to come beyond the first few seats. She even made a college student forfeit his seat for a woman carrying a baby. At some stops there were men who hesitated to board the bus seeing her and she voiced out allowed that they look at her as if she were a ghost!
From the looks on their face, I understand not many men in our bus are happy, as their masculine ego seems to have taken a beating now that women barged into yet another male dominated front. And the women in our bus seem to share some pride over our conductor and are happy for the peaceful ride in which they dint have to curse any men!
The eternal question with an elusive answer men ask themselves is “What do women really want?” All that a woman really wants for is respect, for men to believe in her abilities and liberty to make her choice. And the main idea behind relationships is woman wanting her man to protect her. But are men really our protectors? ….If it were, who would be there to protect us from?
As my destination nears, I go up to my conductor and tell her that she is doing a wonderful job and thank her. I also add that she is the actual epitome of women’s empowerment and others will take cue from her. She was very happy to hear that and the men around look at me with the typical ‘Big deal!’ expression. Oh men, why does your ego get wounded when a women accomplishes something?