#CelebrateingtheRainbow at the workplace – share your stories of Pride!
The driver obliged and immediately stopped the bus for them. Many men got down. They shamelessly lined up just by the side of the bus and peed on the other side of the road.
I work in Pune. My family lives far away from me in a small town along the coast of Konkan. I get to meet them once every fortnight for which I have to take a nine-hour long overnight bus journey.
While I look forward to going home, this journey has become one of the most horrifying when it comes to controlling the urge to urinate and sit motionless all the way through. A fortnightly ritual to bear with this just because I am a woman.
While the privileged beings called ‘men’ enjoy the heavenly convenience of relieving themselves in the open whenever needed. Who cares about the women, anyway!
This time, I boarded my usual bus from the Swargate Bus Stop, Pune at around 10:30 PM. At around 1:00 AM, some men felt an urgent need to relieve themselves. The driver obliged and immediately stopped the bus for them. Many men got down. They shamelessly lined up just by the side of the bus and peed on the other side of the road.
I had to draw the curtains to avoid myself from seeing them and envying the freedom men enjoy for such a basic and uncontrollable human need. I too wanted to get down and go somewhere, a little far away from the bus. But dare I? All the men were flocking around near the bus. I resisted. I closed my eyes and wished the bus had the speed of an airplane!
Soon, the relieved men started boarding the bus. Suddenly, a lady came up to the conductor and requested, “Bhaiya hamare liye bhi kisi hotel-wotel par rok do. Meri bacchiyon aur diabetic sasu maa ko bhi bathroom jana hai.” (Brother, please take a toilet break for the women too at some hotel. I have my daughters and a diabetic mother-in-law to get to the toilet.)
At this, the baniyan-clad conductor got furious and dictated in an authoritative tone- “Tum logon ki wajah se hi bus late ho jati hai. Ab bus kahin rukegi nahin. Jis kisi bhi mahila ko urgent hai, yahin khulle mein utar ke kar lo. Nahin toh ab bus subeh destination par jakar hi rukegi” (It’s because of you ladies that the bus gets late. Now the bus won’t stop anywhere. If any woman needs to go for peeing urgently, get down here only and do it in open. The bus won’t stop anywhere except at the destination in the morning).
That was around 1:00 AM at night! And the destination was still some six hours away! Imagine the horror! Moreover, how could a male conductor of the overnight travel bus get the right to dictate to the women whether they can empty their bladders or not? The audacity!
Another lady, on hearing the dictum of the conductor, barged in front of him from one of the rear seats and yelled, “Sun idhar tu..tu apni maan behen ko bolega aisa kabhi kya ki jakar khulle mein kar lein. Hum kyu subeh tak control karein, humein nahin jaroorat kya bathroom jane ki? Jab mard log susu kar rahe the tab bus kyu late nahin hui. Ladies logon ko janey ka hai toh bus late hone lagi. Chupchap aage kisi hotel ya petrol pump par rok warna hum bus badhne hi nahin denge!” (Listen you…man. Will you ever ask your mother or sister to go out in open like this? Why should we control it till morning? Don’t women also need to go and pee? It wasn’t getting late when all men were peeing, but somehow it will suddenly start getting late if women get down at some toilet to pee. Don’t you dare say anything more… you just stop somewhere at a petrol pump or hotel, otherwise we won’t let the bus proceed.)
Empowered by this small rebellion of one woman, many of us women also joined in- “Haan, rokna hi padega!” “Aise kaise chalega!”. “Humko bhi lagti hai!”. “Mala pan jaiche aahe!” “Kahi hotel var thamba tumi!” (Yes. You’ll have to stop. This is not Ok. We too need to go pee. Stop at some hotel somewhere)
Finally, the bus driver had to stop at some petrol pump. I was the first one to get down as I was sitting in front. I immediately rushed to the loo while others queued up. Everyone relieved themselves one by one. After all of us were relieved, we giggled our way back to the bus, celebrating our small victory!
Thanks to that one courageous lady who fought for such a basic human need for ladies! If only the men could acknowledge that we women are humans too. Sigh!
Image source: Shemaroo Bengali / YouTube
Indian Bureaucrat (Indian Revenue Service)
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