It's around 7PM and I'm taking a short walk from the Coffee Bean towards St. Bridget's Convent where my husband was to pick me up from. I'm wearing a dress, flat shoes, my handbag, a paper bag in one hand and my phone in the other.
I see a man in trousers and a shirt coming towards me. He looks like any ordinary man in the city.
I hardly think, but I mechanically avoid him to take a longer route, away from the pavement, away from him.
I catch myself doing this and stop in my tracks.
WHY? - in the question my mind asks itself. Why the hell should I mechanically... instinctively... do this? Yes, the dress which I wore to work does make me feel like a bull's eye target painted red and white. A dress which easily reaches down my knees but the mateiral which fits my body a little closer than chiffon would, or cotton would. A dress which does not draw comments in my office - only because the embarrassment of an HR inquiry stops it. I feel my legs are an attraction to the myriad of men in cars on the other side of the road, a sight to gawk at while they wait for the fucking green light to come back on. Men in three-wheelers literally twist back from their seats to look at me - yes, I'm out of your league gentlemen, move on..move on... but all I'll give you is the sight of my 'pretty white legs' which you remind me of in Sinhala while passing by.
The man who's walking towards me is closer. I brace myself, then again I tell my mind to -fuck-this-.
Tell me something mister...whisper something...sing me something under your breath...swing your arm so you'll 'mistakenly' touch me on my thigh...change the course of your path so I'm forced to move onto the gravel. Force me to change MY path which I CHOOSE to walk on.
We are literally steps away. He passes me by. My eyes are on the pavement so I don't have to look at him, looking at me. He doesn't say anything, and our brief meeting is over.
I keep walking. I am relieved. I didn't have to spew a torrent of words which I thought I'd need to. "Modaka? Prashnayakda? Ammala akkala nangila nadda? Angata enne mokada? Monaada ballanne? Parei yana eka eka gaanunta eka eka kiyanne mokada"...words I've practiced and even uttered at.
I am at the place my husband is supposed to pick me up from. Another man passes by, I am pretending to ignore his staring. Stare. From head to toe. Move on fucker.
A nice, fatherly-looking man passes me next. Whatever, I don't trust any of them. Finally, my husband comes and slows the car in front of me. I walk towards it and he moves it further. I keep walking with a wry smile to catch up. He does this three times for fun, I don't lose patience. I finally get in and close the door. A kiss his cheek and say Hi.
It's good to be with him. A man. Because sometimes, its tiring being a woman.
In reply to the Speaker's appalling words. Happy belated Women's Day, Sri Lanka.