peeping tom and pipsqueak

i saw his reflection as the door swung open.
a big, bulging, hairy back standing on a chair... and the door swung shut. it took me a couple of minutes to process the information.
the woman next to me was sharper. we realised seconds apart that we had a glorious peeping tom in our midst.
the hairy beast was perched atop a chair in the trial room peeping through the partition at the woman in the next room.
and the prick had forgotten to latch the door in his rush.
the lady next to me banged on the other trial room and a befuddled looking woman stepped out.
no, nobody she knew was in the adjoining trial room, she said.
we started to tell her that there was someone looking at her from the next room, when the door swung open and this towering hulk of a man stepped out (now fully dressed).

he made straight at me, screaming, "why would i do that? why would i do that?".
i cringed... i was frightened... i stuttered, "i saw you, you were on the chair, peeping".
in impeccable english, he continued to look straight at me, "why would i do that?", he repeated.
in the few seconds that followed, these are thoughts that zipped through my head.
did i make a mistake? shit no! i saw him... he looks like any other guy... did i see correctly... i did! i did see him! is he going to beat me up?
he stepped closer, i stepped back. he was yelling.

"i dont know why you would do that?! but i saw you!," i said, trying to keep my voice levelled, (now in retrospect i can think of several sharp and smart things i could have said... but right then, i was too flustered to think straight).
by now, two or three more people collected around us, watching.
he stormed off and i stood there catching my breath.
nobody stopped him. the two other women had sunk into the wall silently as all this happened. two men (a guard and store help) who stood around watching, said and did nothing.
the woman who was 'peeped' on did not say a word, her husband or boyfriend stood around and did nothing too. mute spectators.
once the creep had left, everybody started talking. "i saw him!". "what a pervert!" "he was on the chair."
i made a complaint with the store manager.

as i left the store, my heart was thumping. i looked about and every other guy who walked around seemed like he could be a closet pervert.
i realised that i am so easily hassled and not very brave. why did i suddenly become so unsure of what i had seen? because the guy did not look like a pervert (what a stupid, stupid thing to say, what did i expect, some ugly, evil, villain looking creature with pervert tattoed to his forehead?). because the guy was three times my size and would not stop shouting (foremost in my thoughts was also my own safety... its true, i am no hero, would i have reacted differently if he was a puny guy who stuttered and squeaked? of course... so now i am a hypocrite too).
i looked around as i left the store half expecting him to spring at me with razors or acid or something. i am such a phattu.

but this is how it is.
a few months back a very dear friend of mine got beaten up by a man in road rage, it was broad daylight and not one person stepped forward to help.
she is a lovely, sweet woman who wouldnt step on an ant and something like this happens to her.
for all our strength, wit, independence; it takes one incident like this and we realise that we can be fragile. brute strength and force does mean something.

as for the hirsute creep... i hope his balls rot and fall off.