– You bitch, watch where you’re going. Stupid bitch.
Some time ago I heard those words hurled at me angrily after I accidentally bumped into a woman on the street. Now it may or may not be perfectly normal to you or at least nothing unusual in this age and day but to me it was an experience that shook me to the core.
You see no one has ever called me that name, no one has ever spoken so rudely to me before. In fact I only threw quick “I’m sorry” over my shoulder and quickened the pace to get away from the woman simply because I was afraid she’d go after me and hit me or something.
Two years ago I moved to the capital, three months ago I moved into the most notorious district of the city. I’m quite bothered if I have to get out at night and leave the comforts of my safe apartment. During the day, the place does not seem so foreboding and unsafe but when the darkness falls, well that’s entirely different story.
Least to say this accident taught me two things.
One, I have lived a privileged and sheltered life so far. I lived in a small town, in a moderately well off family, went to private school, graduated from traditional high school, finished prestigious university and then moved to a notorious city that never sleeps.
Two, people like me, who never experienced violence directed towards them are the most easily intimidated by even the slightest bit of it. Angry words from strangers, insults and manhandling are the factors that will petrify us. We cannot react with instinct, we will be just frightened into submission.
Life is not a movie where a weak woman suddenly retaliates and punches somebody in the face. Life is more prosaic and simple. Some behaviors can be taught but others will never come unless you are directly faced with violence, unless you learn how to react to it. And even then you can never be sure if your inner scared self will be up to the challenge.