Wednesday, June 24, 2009

See Something Do Something.

Most days are like other days, some good some bad, but mostly indistinguishable from another. Don't believe me? Ask yourself what you did last week this day(without peeking at the appointment book). You get my point.
Today was not such a day.
The events that transpired were both disgusting and uplifting at the same time.
The last three days have been tough and stressful, I have been getting in early to work leaving late, and circling back to work after my 2-hour stint in the gym. Today I was exhausted, so exhausted that I didn't even think of heading back to work. Instead I left the gym at 9:45pm to head back home and hopefully to Sushi in a nearby restaurant I was craving(Yes we have sushi in Jackson Heigths, as strange as it may sound).
As I got my keys out to enter my building I saw what appeared to me a confrontation between a boy and girl.
The girls back was to me. And my first instinct was to think it was between 2 individuals who knew each other.
This happened barely 10 feet from me.
The girl was a petite Asian girl , the boy a South Asian teenager.
There was some shoving and suddenly the boy slapped the girl. Before I had time to process , he slapped her again.
At this point I walked towards him and basically put myself between the boy and the girl.
and asked him what was going on.
Some lady thought it best to drag the girl away from the situation. The guy also crossed the street and started walking away. At this point though shocked at what I had witnessed (and not prevented) and still unclear as to what really went down, I turned around and started to head back to my door. I was stopped by a Bangladeshi gent who was with his daughter who asked me why I let the guy get away.
I tried reasoning with him saying that I had just gotten there and I didn't really know what went down, so when the girl left I considered the matter closed. His daughter who was with him piped in saying that she wouldn't have stuck around if she was the one caught in the situation.
As we talked something happened that I wouldn't expect in a a 100 years.
The girl who was assaulted thus on a busy street came back.
She came back to find the guy. She was not the type to take shit like that. That to me was the most uplifting part about this experience(disgusting as the situation was).
I did what I thought was best and walked with her as she tried to locate the guy.
I tried to talk her into calling the police(I had left mine at home).
As we rounded a block I spotted him and made the same mistake that I make fun of at the movies. I pointed at him and told her "there he is". he spotted us and made a dash for it. he had a good lead on me, but luckily for me I had my running shoes and workout clothes on so I managed to gain some on him, sadly it was not enough. He got away. A Passerby pointed us to a building. When I entered the building I noticed that there were only 2 South Asian names on the buzzers. I also spotted that there was a way out the back.
By this time the girl had caught up and she finally called the police. The cops came took down statements. I was put down as a witness. I told them of the only 2 South Asian families on the buzzer. Clearly the kid either lived there or had been there before(to get out the back)
The police ignored the implication and definitely didn't go ringing any door bells.
I was asked to ride in an unmarked vehicle (which I did, so Now I can say I have been in the back of a police vehicle) to try and spot the guy in the neighborhood, like he'd actually be dumb enough to show up.
The one saving grace as I found out later was the store in front of which the assault took place had cameras. I called the cops to try and tell them that. But surprise surprise, I was told that they would call me if they heard anything.
As I got home, i tried asking around to see if anyone recognized the guy or his friends. One dude had the temerity to tell me "Why did that girl leave, in the first place?, Why did she not ask for help"
Also asked me "How is she related to you?"
Talk about blaming the victim.
What surprised be was the level of hostility reserved for the one guy who actually tried to do something about it.
Talk about no good deed going unpunished.
The hero in this piece is The Asian girl Erika.
How many girls you know would fight back after being eve-teased on the street(for those who are wondering what eve-teasing is, its euphemistically named - sexual harassment)
I guess its so rampant in south Asian societies that we actually have a name for it.
I feel compelled to ask myself the question, if this was not Jackson Heights but was the Bronx, if it was not some Bangladeshi teenager but a big African American dude, would I have done what I did? I'd like to think so. But Both you and I know better .
Finally if you've stuck it out this far, there is no mistaking the message. If you see Something do Something. True I would not like to get knifed over some guy playing grab-ass some girl on the street, but you have to do what you can do, and do it even if no one else will.


Padma said...

The good samaritan :). Speaking of 'No good geed goes unpunished' - I read this chilling news the other day where an MTA train conductor was mugged and stabbed and when a good samaritan stopped by to help, he in turn stabbed this helpful guy, even chased him down two blocks and stabbed him 12 times to death. I mean whats the logic in that? Anyways, good to see that you not only tried to help during the tussle, but also stuck around to locate the guy, etc.

Vassa.. said...

Sahi hai PD!! All that matters is that you tried to do whatever you could. But you always need to assess the situation before reacting..
Great going PD..

Rajarshi said...

Prady! I am proud of you!