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Bindi Bottoms
Santoshi Rawat Application Engineer, New Delhi

"The way Indian society is wired, trust is at a premium for women. The spate of crimes against women recently has fuelled this lack of trust. Caution and mistrust have become watchwords and we judge many by the actions of a few. We often use precaution as a tool to protect ourselves. What other choice do we have?

A few days ago, one night I had no option but to trust a complete stranger. It was a scary situation - the road was empty, dark and unknown. I was aloof and wouldn’t let him help me, yet he stuck by till he could ensure that I was safe. I still regret that I couldn’t thank him enough for helping me despite my withdrawn demeanour.

It was only 8.30 pm but it felt as though it was past midnight. I realised that the bus I was on had taken a different route and I was far away from my destination. When I got off with another woman, as the bus driver had suggested, there was no bus stop in sight on the secluded, dark road. The woman took off for her home after suggesting that I wait there for the next bus.

As she left, she ran into a man coming towards me. They seemed to be talking about me. The man, who could have been my father’s age, walked over to me. He asked me a few basic questions - where I was going, what I was doing there, where I was coming from. I pretended to ignore him. I was on guard and suspicious of this stranger.

As we waited in the dark, no bus came our way. When the next auto came by, I quickly went to it only to see that it was occupied. As I stepped back, the boys in the auto stuck their heads out and started singing inane songs and passing lewd comments. I was both annoyed and scared. The stranger, who was still standing by, walked up and asked me not to look for any more autos. He suggested that the hour was not safe to travel alone.

Just then, a metro feeder bus came by. The stranger flagged it down. He climbed in before me and instructed the driver to drop me at the metro. As the bus started moving away, I hurriedly thanked him for his help.

When my family heard of this, they reiterated their instructions about not trusting anyone, especially strangers. I agree with them, but realise that we don’t have to be fanatical in our mistrust. I believe trust is very important. Don’t we even cross the road only after trusting certain people behind the wheel? After all, they too are strangers. It is trust that drives us, yet we suppress it because of our fears "


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