How to Hit Your Harasser with a Comeback


How to Hit Your Harasser with a Comeback

Illustration: Akshita Monga/Arré


he first time I was harassed, I must have been in Class VII. The last time I remember being harassed was two years ago. That’s a solid quarter of a century of harassment. That is also a quarter of a century of me walking away, ignoring it, and taking the path of least resistance. Of not screaming, shouting, abusing, hitting back, or doing anything more than choosing silence. I have stayed awake at night and thought of things that I should have said or done. I’ve thought about it in the middle of dinner or while driving to work, sometimes years after an incident, a decade even. I have lost count of the number of times I have hit the steering wheel hard, and said, “Dammit! That’s what I should have said.”

Twenty-five years of hearing nonsense on roads, buses, rickshaws has prompted me to create a list of closeted comebacks. This is THAT list. A ready reckoner, if you please, of the ugliest, nastiest, dirtiest things you can say back when ugly, nasty, dirty things are being said to you. I realise, of course, that not all harassment stories are verbal, some are achingly physical but the right words at the right time can be a salve of some sort. The man, who groped me in the movie theatre when I was leaving, should have been slapped. Even if I didn’t have the courage to raise my hand, words I should have had.