by Shazia Yousuf
When you get in, they are damp with summer perspiration. When you sit in, the sticky dirt steals your morning freshness. Its wobbling moves shake the visceral arrangement inside your belly. The shrieks of conductor pierce your eardrums leaving them humming. There are no set stops but it doesn’t stop them from stopping. It you complain you will get some extra jerks.
This is the scene inside a local bus, but the tragedy of story lies somewhere else. It lies in the unstated tales that shape up within a bus journey. Ask any female boarder of the bus, they will have dozens of horror stories to tell. The crowded buses give an open hand to the eve teasers with government taking shelter under unimplemented laws.
Year’s back, after continuously receiving complaints from the female passengers, the government came up with a solution. Separate buses were provided for the female passengers.
In a society like Kashmir, it is quite usual that females are accompanied by the males. So they avoided this service as the males accompanying them could not board these buses along with them.
Reserving one-fourth of the bus seats for women passengers was yet another attempt from the government.
Though the order was hailed by everyone but its practical implementation is still a distant dream. It is nothing unusual for a Kashmiri male to occupy the seat ignoring the bold written “LADIES” above him. While the bus owners seem unaware of the passed order, government too seems unwilling to come up with the proper way out.
When an aged woman boards a bus, she is helped by men to get in. Once she is inside the bus, many men enthusiastically offers her seat and make sure that she sits comfortably. If a lady carrying a child waves her hand at the bus, the men inside shout at the driver to stop the bus for her. Someone takes her belonging, another helps her to get in. Her child is being caressed and she given the most comfortable seat.
Although there are exceptions but when it comes to young girls, the situation is not same. They are not offered seats but pushes and shoves. Young girls are soft targets. Apprehensive of the further humiliation, they usually keep mum.
Today’s woman has a dream, an ambition to carve out a niche for herself. She competes, and sometimes beats as well. She knows mathematics, loves philosophy, reads literature, explores scientific world, understands politics and cares for her nation.
Has a woman necessarily to lose her self-dignity in proving herself? In making her nation proud of her, her own pride is at stake. Doesn’t she deserve a sound bus journey, free from humiliation? Free from disgrace?
It is the duty of administration to come up with proper laws so that the women have the reservation in the buses. And when it comes to people there is a desperate need of sensibility among them.