My Friend Ordered a Can of Pepper Spray and It Made Me Mad.

 

 

Worried that her daughter braved dangers unseen, her mom asked her to order it online. While there isn’t a dearth of unspecified horrors that await us women the moment we leave our home — and within — her mom was probably thinking about the latest threat. A guy on a bike has been slashing at women passersby. It makes me mad how easy it is for that guy to not just hurt those women physically but also leave slash marks on their psyches!

 

Every day, I am greeted with a new story about this guy being salaciously discussed with the other women who travel in the same van I do. It makes me mad that they spend so much time talking about that piece of shit. To me, it feels like glorifying his “escapades”.

When the van halts at stop signs, the slasher is foremost in our thoughts. It makes me mad when the women sitting by the window look out suspiciously at any guy on a bike approaching our vehicle. It makes me even madder when they slide the windows closed out of fear. The windows don’t stay closed for long — this being one of the hottest summers in Karachi — but the fact is they are closed out of fear!

 

A week or two before, I was on the phone talking to my mother. Amidst our daily “how are yous” and “how is work treating yous” was a new element this time. She was passing along a message from one of my uncles. Worried about his nieces who went to work every day, he had asked us to not leave our house until we saw our transport arrive. I know he said that out of love and I love him for it but the fact that he had to…it makes me mad!

 

What gets my goat even more is how all the fear has made me suspicious of others. Several months ago, I remember getting off work late. Waiting for a rickshaw while standing in the rain, all I could think of was: why is that car not moving? Someone had parked a car some distance away from where I stood. I felt the beginnings of fear while they waited silently but it turned into panic when the car was put into reverse gear. Luckily, before anything untoward could happen, I was able to get a rickshaw and leave.

 

To this day, I don’t even know who was in the car and why they waited seemingly without a reason. Yet, it makes me mad when I think back on how scared I had been!

The only silver lining in my dark, boiling cloud of grey is that I won’t let the fear stop me. I will be careful while going out. I will watch out for other women who I see outside. I will try to avoid working late. I will even wait on the front stoop until my ride arrives. But you know what else I’m going to do? I will keep getting mad because right now, my anger is the only weapon that I have.

 

If you have stuck around until now, I would love to know what gets you mad.

 

First published on Medium.com on 14th October, 2017.