“ Let’s just do some more “ I said, almost panting.
I took a really deep breath, as if I was drawing oxygen straight out of the air and plunged into the still surface of the pool. We were down 12 rounds but it was fun, floating into the calm pool after the day’s work. In fact Priyank came home early so that we could swim in the pool. As far as I am concerned I injured my wrist and a knee so couldn’t really continue with the gym, so this was my new Mecca.
It was past dusk and there were only a handful of people in the pool. There were small lamps studded on the side walls bright enough to light few meters around it, rest of the water was dimly lit.
There was a woman, maybe in her mid 30’s and a man, they were traversing the pool’s length at regular intervals. There was another man with his teenage boy who wore a full body, black swimsuit, just like T’Challa. Then there were us, 2 semi-naked boys trying to swim with our crude techniques.
I clearly remember, it was somewhere around my tenth round I saw the woman and the man talking about something. This was not the man with the kid but another one, whom subconsciously, I assumed to be her associate. Wait! They were not exactly talking because now I can hear some “F” words being hurled in the open space. I figured out that maybe they collided in the water or something. Before I could dive deep into the situation, the woman approached me and questioned: “ Is he with you? “. Even though I was 100% sure he wasn’t, I just took 2 seconds to look at their faces and deny. She threw the same question at the other two people, only to find out that he was on his own.
” You just saw a woman! Do you even know how to treat her? “
” Hey! First, learn how to talk like a woman. “
The woman promptly demanded the man’s flat number ( the pool is in the society I live). The man didn’t pay much attention to her and they exchanged few more remarks. I thought the situation is pacified till I met the woman on the other side of the pool. She was standing on the edge of it and we were still inside the water, swimming.
” Hey! Can you guys stand for me? “ She asked.
I looked at Priyank but he was struggling to choose a side. So I asked her what happened as I didn’t actually see the collision happening so I thought it was better to ask once before judging people and choosing my sides.
” That guy! He touched my butt! “ She exclaimed.
I took a few seconds to ingest the situation. There were some people already around the pool by now. Security guards and the pool manager and finally the “ Culprit “ was summoned, though still in the pool. While they were having a heated row, I saw a young lady approaching them. She was his wife.
“ Your husband touched my butt! “ She attacked.
” I didn’t touch it or anything, I was swimming, I just happened to collide with her “ He defended.
The pool manager and the security guards started asking the couple about their flat number, to which they refused.
“ He touched me inappropriately and he didn’t even stop to say sorry! “ The lady was all enraged.
His wife put her hand over her husbands head and gently asked her to apologize.
“ I am not doing it because the way she talked to me was terrible, She said Fuck you ” He said.
Right now we have stopped swimming and were standing in the pool listening to the arguments. More importantly, because the woman asked us to stand for her, and we were not able to choose a side because we didn’t see it happening.
” You can ask these people, they were there too! “ The woman said pointing at us.
Honestly, speaking at this point of time it felt like I was flowing in a river and I would have kept flowing downstream, peacefully, only if I resonated with the dominating sentiment over there, which was - ‘ A woman groped by a man openly in the society’s swimming pool ‘. But there was a problem, I was not credible enough to make a statement or to choose a side because I didn’t see them colliding in the first place. So I decided to swim upstream.
” Mam! Sir! I was actually completing my lap and when I looked back you were already there and standing and talking, So I actually don’t have the credibility to …“
I was interrupted by the women and what she said was enough for me to stand a ground and choose a side. Not the man’s side but the men’s side. She threw a mocking remark, not at all alien to my ears. I don’t know why I felt so bad about it because all she said was:
“Typical Ind*** Men! ”
It felt as if she conjured a giant iceberg in that swimming pool and pierced its tip right through my chest. This time I didn’t look at Priyank. Because now it was no longer about him or the man. It was a tight slap in the face of every Indian man who has a moral compass that still doesn’t point south towards a woman’s pants. The point was, she took me and placed me with her own abstractions of Demonic Indian men. And the sad part was, this concept of ” Indian men are the worst kind, you shouldn’t expect anything from them” was rooted so deep inside her, she didn’t even care about it, till I interrupted her.
” Excuse me, mam! What do you mean by Indian Men? Can you please explain? “ I politely but firmly asked.
” You guys were there but you are not saying anything! “ She complained.
Her tone was a bit gentle now because now she just realized that being an Indian herself, she just spelled Indian Men like Ind*** Men. It was like a different kind of Fuck you. You know, something trendy and acceptable nowadays.
” Firstly, it is not at all logical to make a statement when you don’t even know what happened actually. Secondly, bumping into you, not apologizing and touching you inappropriately are two different things. Thirdly, You still didn’t quite answer why you said Indian Men the way you did? “ I made a point.
” The way he talked was really bad … “ She continued with her previous arguments in a tone that tried to lessen the pain inflicted by the remark she threw at me.
I just made my point and maybe she took it with a grain of salt and would still label me as a shitty Ind*** Men. But I felt relieved. I was feeling content for having spoken about the small elephant in the room that she very conveniently placed to gain a moral high ground. Suddenly, I could feel the water around me, it felt more pleasant than before.
Maybe I took it too seriously. But if I could question to understand the crude ability of certain individuals to generalize, I would do it whenever and wherever I can, even when I am standing in a pool, almost naked.
I know it feels like an instant solution to suffix Ind*** Men behind every problem the society is facing. It works like a charm every time. But for once let’s try and isolate the individuals responsible rather than shaming the entire fraternity. Let’s not, just for once make Indian Men sound like Ind*** Men.
Just do this for us and I promise we will do the rest.