Exhausted and my eyes laden with sleep, I sat with my eyes closed, trying to drift to sleep listening to the bumps of the road and being rocked in the hardly cushioned seat of the bus. It had been a long day and the 3 hours back, seemed like a good time to catch some sleep, which had been quite missing this week. I felt something touching my head and I find this lady leaning on the side of the seat in front, with a toddler in hand and it was the child's dangling legs, which had made contact with me. For a moment, I looked at her, while she looked at me and I couldn't dare look at her eyes and I started staring outside, avoiding her eyes.
The little goodness in me made me feel bad about this lady standing with a kid in her hands and holding on to the rail for balance, while I sat leisurely; that took away my dare in meeting her eyes. For she wanted the seat more than me, but then I wasn't ready to share my comfort with her. I had checked the sign above the seat indicating 'reserved for women' before sitting and I wasn't on a seat reserved for the members of the fairer sex. No women, sitting on the reserved seats for their gender, looked at her, for all of us wanted to have our comfort to ourselves. And the other men in the bus were lucky, for they didn't have to deal with a tiny leg, dangling before your eyes at such a close distance.
I remember having a conversation about women equality with my mom, when we were at our regular Sunday morning breakfast or rather blasphemy sessions, in the words of a prudent catholic in our kitchen. I had told her, women is responsible for whatever her plight of misery she says she is in, because of her sisters as much because of men. Mom wouldn't agree, but then I wouldn't agree on anything else either and we eventually had no place else to go ahead, with both our ideas and stopped in peace.
Lost in the thought of gender equality and trying to fit together the exact reply my mom had told me, I find this lady loose her balance and almost fall, when the bus hit a sudden halt. The time she looses her balance and starts falling, the first feelings in me, is not the safety of her or the kid, but a sense of shame for having made this happen by not wanting to share my comfort. Thankfully she didn't complete the fall and she stood tall again, with the kid held tighter and her fists clenched on to the rail, with more vigor than before.
Gone are the days of gentlemen, who stood every time the lady stood and I don't think there will ever be a time, when a lady would get an extra care, on account of just being a lady from men, much less members of her own species. She talks about gender equality, and receives the special treatments conferred on her as part of vote oriented politics, like the women in the bus, who sat on the seats reserved for them. But then, deep down in their heart were not willing to trade their comfort, with a fellow sister.
((Did I offer my seat to her is left to you, my dear reader, to give shape, for the post is not about whether I did or not))