It was scorching hot outside, but the woman was dressed in demure, layered clothes that covered her from top to bottom. But, of course, that didn’t stop the group of men or rather roadside punks from spotting her and closing in on her.
“Hello, beautiful,” one of the men said. “You seem alone. Do you want us to drop you somewhere?”
The woman quickly lowered her eyes and stepped away from them, hurrying towards the shaded bus stop.
The group of men followed.
“What’s your name?” one of them asked.
She didn’t answer. She kept her eyes lowered and ignored them.
“We are talking to you. Look at us when we are talking,” another man commanded.
She continued to ignore them, hurrying away until one of them held her arm.
She sucked in a frightful breath and looked at them with fear-laden eyes. “Please… leave me alone.”
“We’ll leave you alone when we please. Tell us your name.”
She looked at the rest of the people waiting at the bus stop. There were lots of other men and women seated only a few feet away and could hear everything. But they decidedly ignored what was happening. “Please help me,” she called out to them.
The people didn’t make eye contact and continued to ignore her.
“No one is going to save you, beautiful. Tell us your name. And tell us whether or not you have a boyfriend or a husband.” The punk grinned. “Even if you are married or have a boyfriend, you still have to pick one of us as your lover. Or maybe all of us.” There was laughter from the group.
She shook her head and tried to step away from them.
The men got bolder because the onlookers weren’t the helping kind. They closed in on her and tried to pull at her clothes, laughing as she cringed and tried to ward them away.
With a forceful push, she broke away from the group and began to run away from the bus stop towards the opposite direction. She heard the men’s laughter as they followed her.
“Don’t be shy, beautiful. We know you want it.”
With a choked sob, she continued running. People turned and saw her being chased by a group of men, yet they continued on their way in their busy lives. Soon, she saw that she was cornered at a dead-end street. She turned back with widened eyes.
“What a dumb bitch to have run towards an abandoned street.”
“Dumb or not, she must be hiding a knock-out body under those layers of clothes. Aren’t you, beautiful?”
The men laughed once again.
Throwing them a desperate look, she went into an old structure which was the back side of a shop where no one was around.
“Perfect place. We’ll show you a lot of fun this morning, beautiful,” one of the men said as they followed her inside.
She was truly cornered with nowhere else to go. The place was small enough that the men didn’t even have to chase her around.
As the men closed in on her with perfect lecherous gazes, slowly her fearful expression shifted.
A small smile spread on her face. “Oh yes. I am definitely going to have a lot of fun.” She pulled out the long, thick stick that was strapped within the layers of her clothes. “A lot of fun,” she reiterated.
MOANS OF AGONY and pain from the group of men filled the air along with sounds of thick sticks and boots hitting their flesh.
“We are sorry! We are sorry! Please stop!” the men cried repeatedly.
Shilpa Dasani and her backup which consisted of two policemen and two policewomen continued to hit the would-be rapists repeatedly. “You guys need to keep your promise. The fun just started. You are not going to cheat me out of it, are you?” Shilpa asked.
“No, don’t,” a punk cried as he tried to ward off a blow from a thick stick. “We didn’t know you were police.”
Shilpa held that guy’s collar and dragged him up. “So if I wasn’t police, I was fair game, was I?” she asked.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” he whimpered. “I didn’t want to. My friends forced me to join.”
The said friends even in different stages of agony threw him a glare. “Don’t lie. He was the one who spotted you first and said we should follow.”
Shilpa was about to say something when she heard her phone ring. She knew who it was based on the familiar ringtone. So she ignored it and focused on the job at hand. “So, you are the ringleader here, are you?” she asked the punk as she twisted his arm.
The man broke into a sob. “Please. I’m sorry. I won’t bother anyone again. I’ll treat all women like my sisters and mothers.”
Shilpa scoffed and was about to call out his bullshit when her phone rang once again. It was the same ringtone.
She pushed the punk on the ground and pressed her foot hard on his neck before she answered the call hurriedly.
“Shilpa!” The voice on the other end sounded excited rather than distressed.
“What is it, Ma? Are you okay?” Shilpa asked in an urgent tone.
“Good news! I found a wonderful boy who is so perfect for you. He’s quite handsome, and he’s ex-military who started his own security business. He said he’s looking for someone who is from a similar line, and I—”
“Ma!” Shilpa interrupted the older woman’s excited chatter. “How many times have I told you not to call me back-to-back? That’s our code for an emergency only. I am in the middle of something.”
“Sorry,” said the older woman, even though she didn’t sound the least bit sorry.
Shilpa rolled her eyes. That was typical Ma. “I’ll call you back, Ma.”
“Okay. Okay. But the potential groom wants to meet you next week. Make a place on your calendar. Love you!”
Shilpa sighed. “Love you, too, Ma.” Ending the call, Shilpa looked around at the prone men who were watching her fearfully. Her backup team was waiting for orders.
“These boys love having fun. So show them some more fun and then drag them to the crowd and show everyone what happens to unruly punks who harass or assault women. Then throw them in the nearest jail,” she ordered.
“Yes, Madam Sir!” the policewomen replied.
There were audible whimpers from the injured men. The policewomen were in constable uniforms. Shilpa knew it was the ‘Madam Sir’ commonly used to refer to a senior female police officer that made the punks realize how deep in trouble they would be.
As sounds of beatings and agonized moans continued, Shilpa walked away from the place. She had instructed her backup the previous day to have this incident covered in the media without using her name. She hoped that the news of an undercover policewoman beating the eve teasers to a pulp would put some fear among the rest of the eve teasers who come to know about the incident.
She checked the time on her phone. She only had less than an hour for her meeting with the Commissioner. And she still had to return to her apartment to change her clothes. She knew there was a possibility of her running slightly late for the meeting, but she had no regrets.
A week ago, some of the older girls and women in her neighborhood had come to her place and told her about the menace that a group of men was causing in their neighborhood. They had even told her that their multiple complaints to the local police didn’t really yield any effect. Shilpa had decided to help them, even though catching eve teasers wasn’t a part of her job profile.
As she walked towards her apartment, she saw the bystanders who hadn’t lifted a finger to help her or at least inform the police of a potential assault.
Shilpa walked towards them.
Some of them watched her in surprise, and the rest quickly lowered their eyes in shame.
She stopped in front of them. “The next time I see or hear that as bystanders none of you offered any help, and simply stood passively while a crime was happening… then I’ll personally arrest you all.”
Not waiting to see their reactions to her genuine threat, Shilpa continued towards her apartment.
She headed to the stairs. Since she was on the first floor, she didn’t need to use an elevator. When she rented the apartment last year, she had picked the first floor since it would be easier whenever Ma visited or there was an emergency. Despite asking several times, Ma had downright refused to live with her saying they had their own lives to live without getting in each other’s way day in and day out.
“Hi, Shilpa,” a girl’s voice greeted. “Whoa! I know you had questionable tastes in clothes. But isn’t this a bit much when it is so hot outside?”
Shilpa grinned at the teenager who was heading down the stairs. The teen was a neighbor and frequented Shilpa’s place quite often. “Sort of an undercover op,” Shilpa explained.
“Interesting. What did you do? Something super-secret as always?”
“Nothing secretive. But will tell you about it later. I’m running late to work.” Shilpa waved at the teen before continuing to go up the stairs.
As soon as Shilpa reached her apartment, she unlocked the door and hurried inside. Even though she was short on time, she had to shower once again.
It was peak summer, and the weather was brutal. She shed the heavy two-piece ethnic dress suit that had almost baked her and stepped under the cooling water.
She had deliberately worn modest, shapeless clothes which people typically wore not to attract undue attention. But the clothes worked as perfect bait for the perverts and eve teasers. The low-life predators assumed that women who wore such modest clothes would be meek and wouldn’t make a scene or fight back. They considered them as soft targets and easy prey.
Shilpa wanted to stay under the water for a longer time, but she had to hurry out of the shower. She quickly donned her uniform. She wore it rarely as she was mostly on field duty where she had to be undercover or blend in. But since she was meeting the Commissioner that day, she decided to wear formal clothing.
Grabbing her police cap and her purse along with her SUV keys, she stepped outside and locked the door.