New Delhi: On a day when I had lost complete faith in the system after seeing the video of a police officer assaulting a woman at a railway station, an incident helped me regain trust in humanity.
Let me start with the beginning of my work day. I was at my desk, and at around 4.30 pm, my colleague and I left for a video shoot to Connaught place, New Delhi. My office is in Noida. We took a wrong left and we had to pay a fine of Rs 400. So far, I couldn’t really say my day was going great.
Anyway, we finished with our shoot early and things finally started looking better. I got fuel in my car and left from CP at around 7:30 pm for south Delhi. I was excited as I could finally get some time to catch up with my cousin and nephew – they had just come from the US.
This is where it begins.
As soon as I reached this dark stretch near CP where cars just fly past you, my car started heating up and I had to stop right then.
Not a soul was in sight. I opened the bonnet, threw some water in, and rushed to a nearby market to get some more water.
After I returned from my second ‘water’ trip, I saw a man in a yellow tee-shirt standing near my car. He was of a heavy built. I was scared but walked up to him to ask him why he was standing there.
Instead of answering my question, he started telling me, “Ma’am you should not leave your car like this. I understand your car is locked but people can break the windows and take away your valuables. You should keep all your valuables in the boot.”
Silly me had left my laptop on the back seat.
All I could wonder while he was lecturing me was, “Who the hell is he. He is saying the right stuff but that’s the last thing I want to hear right now. But he seems like a nice guy. What if he is a bad guy pretending to be a nice man. It’s a dark stretch, he looks sturdy enough to overpower me. Oh my God, will he rape me?”
Immediately, I started calling my husband and brother. Neither of them picked the call as both were busy in office meetings.
Then I saw a bike, a yellow bike – a Delhi Police Pulsar – parked right there. That’s when I heaved a sigh of relief. He was a police officer – Assistant Sub-Inspector Pawan Kumar.
Again, my thoughts started running wild, “But what if he is like that railway cop. What if he molests me or rapes me. No one knows where I am.” I was trembling with fear.
I thought about Kathua rape, Bhopal woman’s rape, December 16 gangrape, Gujarat minor rape, Gurgaon cab rape. Basically, I thought about all kinds of rapes and murders before my thoughts started shifting to “maybe he will just kill me, rob me off my stuff and run away.” Surprisingly, this made me feel less anxious than my other thoughts. That’s when I realised that there was something even more horrifying than death.
Kumar broke my chain of thoughts and said, “You should call a male family member. It’s too late.” I didn’t realise that in between all this, it was already 9 pm.
He said, “By the time we figure out what to do with your car and whether it will get fixed, it will get very late. You should not be out alone this late. It’s unsafe in Delhi now.”
He offered to go fetch a mechanic for me at that hour. He arranged for me to sit in a nearby restaurant and went looking for some help.
I was not even sure if he will be back and I was getting restless.
Thanks to my profession, no good or bad news skips my eye. So, once again, I started thinking, “What if he has some other plans. He has made me sit here and may even rob my car.”
I was so restless, that I went back to check on my car. It was nicely sitting where I had left it. Just then, he arrived with a mechanic. By this time, I had had a word with my husband – he also works in Noida and was on a night shift – and he was already on his way to my location.
The mechanic fixed my car, I paid him Rs 100. And now it was my turn to pay the cop. I was more than glad to pay him because he really helped me a lot. He refused to take the money. “You are like my sister. I was patrolling, and helping you out was my duty. Since you were all alone, God had sent me to help you,” Kumar said.
This melted my heart and made me feel so guilty for thinking such evil things about him. Later, he even called to ask if I had reached home safely.
In this world, nice people still exist, it’s just that so many bad incidents have taken the light away from them. I was almost on the verge of thanking ASI Kumar for doing his duty and not raping, abducting or killing me.
But was it really my fault that my thoughts ran in the opposite direction?
This incident made me realise that even at 9.30 pm, the place that I call home, the place where I want to raise my kids, is so scary. I have been in Delhi since I was 12 years old. I have never felt this unsafe. I have had horrible experiences in Delhi and have faced them bravely. Like almost all girls in India, I have been harassed, abused and groped. These incidents made me angry but they never made me feel the way I did on this day. This day, I learnt a lot about my fears.
It is sad that as women we have to think so much even to get back home. It is sad that no matter how brave we are, we feel afraid in such a situation with a cop standing nearby.
It’s also sad that this incident compelled me to write this article because I was so thankful to a man for not leching at me, raping me, killing me, offering me to his friends, or abusing me.
It’s really sad that this is the world we are living in now.
Last, but not the least, I really want to thank ASI Pawan Kumar, Nizamuddin police station, for ensuring I reached back home safe.