Get off my seat!

Saadia Qamar July 04, 2010

It happened to me twice in a day. I was shocked and astonished for once. I had always acted very rude towards them, keeping this in mind, I always thought theirs was a bigger share in this world. A lion’s share, even when it came to clamped seats in a bus. There it was, 80 per cent of them and 20 per cent of us, poor women. Separate enclosures and separate seating arrangements. That was a joy ride in a bus. But not when the men came and sat in the compartment meant for women.

How ugly I thought, how unfitting their manners were. Then there were days, when I would fight for every female’s right to sit on her seat, at a time when most of the 20 per cent seats too would be occupied (read: grabbed) by these men. I mean, at the very least women should be given their fair share on buses.

So what happened the other day, and twice in a day, precisely, while coming to work and going back home, was that in the 80 per cent men’s enclosure, I was offered a seat. For once I was dumbfounded. How could I accept so much of gratitude from those towards whom I had always acted very rude, very impolite and sometimes even hostile? I had always thought deep in my mind that in Pakistan, equality between the sexes was a distant dream. A dream we could never see with an open eye, or at least I couldn’t. But only till recently. So finally pure male chauvinism had given way to chivalry, I thought to myself.

So now the Rosa Parks in me thinks twice before shouting, screaming and hurling abuse that these men too deserve a fair share – after all they gave me a seat in their enclosure. But does this mean that we have reached our destination to equality? Perhaps not – but there may be hope yet.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2010.

Saadia Qamar
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