To the men I have to slightly distrust,
The auto driver who I was rude to for trying to take a different route, I am sorry, I was intimidated. I thought you were going to harm me. I did not know you were trying to help me get home earlier by evading the paralysing traffic. Forgive me.
The many cab drivers who had to drive with the air conditioning off because I lied about my health and had the windows open, I am sorry, I was guarding myself against the probability of you being perverts. Locked windows might be hard to break open. Forgive me.
The friendly men I have met at house parties, with friends, at my workplace and everywhere else whose calls I think twice before answering at odd hours, I am sorry, I keep feeling you might have some agenda behind being nice. Forgive me.
The men I stare back coldly at on the roads for just looking towards me, I am sorry, you probably were just looking but I assume otherwise. I know that makes you feel insulted. Forgive me.
The men who I piss off by giving nasty looks at cinema halls, I am sorry. I don’t know if you are even remotely thinking of feeling me up, but I fear so. Forgive me.
The best friend I have, the men I love, the ones who love me, the father I adore, the buddies I hang out with – I sometimes do look at you as men with instincts as primal as any other. I am sorry, I can’t help it. Forgive me.
And, the men who actually deceive, ogle, eve tease, molest and rape – my distrust for the well-meaning men around me is your doing. I don’t shy away from living but I have to be my own vigilante because you exist. I think and over-think if I am just my body, to be shamed again and again. My achievements fall short to reinstate my worth to myself because you look at me like I am just my flesh. You make trusting and loving difficult for me and many like me. It is unfair. Not just to me but to the many men who are nothing like you.
But I have to have my own back. And I need to slightly distrust most men to do that.
(Image credit: University Community)