As she stops her auto-geared black coloured two wheeler in the Parking of Shambu Parathas and Biryani - a popular restaurant near her apartment, Revathi looks at her watch. It says 10:15pm - almost closing time.
She rushes past the relatively empty parking into the restaurant and takes the first empty table. With a deep breath in and an even longer exhale, she hopes her tiredness from the long day at work would vanish.
A customary action of the waiter leaves her surprised when he places two glasses of water instead of just one on her table. ‘Oh habits!’, she thinks as she calls out to the waiter to take the extra glass back. His confused expression makes her speculate that it was not a habit but an assumption that women don’t come to restaurants alone; at least not at that hour. “Give him benefit of doubt”, she tells herself as she relates this to a few incidents during the day.
Rahul, Vijay and Revathi had attended a meeting with potential clients that day. During introduction, Sanjeev, from the client party shook hands with both Rahul and Vijay but skipped Revathi even though she was standing in between them. “Could it be because he was shy? But this is a professional environment. Could it be because she wasn’t a man? Could it be religious?” With so many thoughts racing through her mind, she had stepped forward and extended her hand towards Sanjeev with an introduction. He had reciprocated the action. “Maybe it was just male ego that had stopped him from doing an introduction first”, she had thought to herself. “But well, I don’t know for sure, so I should not judge.”
Her chain of thoughts get interrupted when the waiter serves her her meal. She thanks him. Biting into her food, she thinks about her presentation to the clients earlier that day.
She had taken great efforts to prepare the slides and had even practiced delivery once. She was sure that the presentation itself had been impressive but what happened after had left her a little frustrated. All questions were directed to her male colleagues. Even when she had answered those questions, many men had turned to Rahul and Vijay to ensure that they nodded in acceptance. “But then, no one else in the room had noticed or had felt that way. Maybe I’m overthinking”, she tells herself as she finishes dinner.
She glances at her watch again. “Yes, it’s late.”
At about 7:30pm, when the client team decided to hold one more discussion, Mark had asked Revathi if she needed to get
home early to her family and cook or if she could wait a little longer till the end of the discussion. “Assumptions!
Assumptions that I have a family here and I’ve to cook for them!”, she had thought to herself. “I can stay longer”,
was all that she had told Mark.
“Maybe I should have told him that some 32 year olds might not be married and might have chosen to stay alone. But I am sure he meant well”, she assures herself.
As she walks back to the parking after making her payment, Revathi thinks, “I have no clue why I am wasting my energy over these petty incidents. I’m an independent working woman mostly surrounded by decent educated men. I’m sure I hardly experience problems that many women living in other conditions do. There’s no real reason to fret or even waste a moment thinking about these petty things”.
Revathi, like many other women, convinces herself that these are insignificant incidents that need no mention or address. “I wouldn’t want those men to perceive me as an overly sensitive person who makes a mountain of a molehill”. She silences her potential to bring about a positive change with the thought, “In comparison to many other women, I am very lucky!”