“A few days ago I had taken a share-cab ride. As I settled in my seat, I noticed my co-passenger, a guy in the front seat. He seemed pretty tall, well dressed. His watch and iPhone reeked of wealth. Chiselled jawline, Dirty stubble. He was speaking on his phone. His fluency and vocabulary in our ‘national’ language English stunned me. “Pakka English medium hoga (Must be from English medium)“, I thought. Soon, the next pick up point arrived. The lady who joined us seemed pretty cautious and quite uncomfortable. I could feel her shifting uneasily in her seat for a long while. Then like any ‘responsible’ teenager, I plugged in my earphones and dozed off.
“Inko toh bas gandagi failaani hoti hai har jagaah. (They only know how to make every place dirty),” I woke up startled to hear the swanky guy in the front seat saying this.
“Aise public car me daag chhodke gayi, sharam hai bhi yaa nahi? (She has left stains on a public car, does she have any shame or not?)”
I checked my jeans carefully. It was my 5th day of periods. I was not supposed to be bleeding this bad. And then I turned my head. A red stain greeted me on the seat. It was exactly where the other lady was sitting a while ago. I could still see her silhouette fading away in the distance. She had clutched her bag close to her hips while waiting for the cab, I recalled. The awkwardness of the situation left me numb.
The front-seat guy was still ranting.
“Devi maiyaa ke puja chadhane jaa rahe the. Pata nahi kya aafat aa gaya aur share book kar lia. Ab pura gadi kharab ho gaya. Humko toh yehi utaar dijie bhaiyya. (I am going to the temple. I don’t know what came upon me that I booked a share-cab. Now, the entire cab is spoiled. Please drop me here, brother)”
After that guy got off the car, the driver who was silent till now got down and opened the door opposite to me. I could feel an eerie sensation coming up. It was just 6 PM, but thanks to the cold December winds this bylane seemed quite deserted.
“Baas do minute madam (Give me two minutes, madam),” he bent down and started scrubbing the blood stain with a damp cloth. I sighed in relief.
“Bhaiyya, ek baat bataiye, aapko sach mein ajeeb nahi laga? Aapke gari mein daag laga aur aap mitaye use khud (Brother, tell me one thing, you really did not feel weird? Your car seat got period stains and you cleaned it on your own),” I asked while paying the fare. The driver smiled.
“Madam humare ghar mein bhi auratein hai. Humse zyada ajeeb toh woh madam ko laga hoga. (Madam I have women in my home as well. That madam must have felt more awkward than me)
Unke bas mein hota toh woh kabhi aisa nahi karti. Aur madam kitne log chai coffee gira dete hai seat ke upar. Wo daag bhi toh humi ko mitana padhta haina. Toh baas daag tha, mita diya. (She would have never done it knowingly. And madam, so many people spill tea or coffee and leave stains on seats. I also clean those stains too, right? So, it was just a stain, I cleaned it.”
And I stood dumbstruck on the pavement trying to grasp once more the true meaning of education.”
– Sneha Bhattacharya, MBBS Student