Hand that wielded the stick

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Geeta-Nair

“Whack!Whack!”

Heads turned, eyes wide open people looked on at the scene unfolding before their eyes, in amazement. Time stood still in the stationary bus.

Twirling the hockey stick in her hand, eyes blazing, she gave him a piece of her mind and stepped out.

“Come on girls, let’s move,” she said.

The small contingent moved ahead in silence. Of and on a girl would throw a furtive glance behind afraid that the victim or his goons may be following them. But she moved ahead, head held high, an epitome of grit and guts. She was none other than Mumtaz Begum, my friend and classmate, the captain of our college hockey team.

Wondering whether I too was a member of the team? No. Hockey and me? No way. I was never the tough type. But Mumtaz was. A troubled childhood had made her rough and tough. Not one afraid of calling a spade a spade, this wonderful lasso of nineteen knew how to handle a rogue.

Now if I was not in the team how did I come to know this one ‘little’ incident? What was it that made Mumtaz wield the hockey stick off the field? Here’s the story-

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It was a cool winter evening in January 1981.Dusk had set in. Sitting in my hostel room, deep in my books I did not notice her enter until I heard a loud guffaw. I turned around to see her doubled up on my bed, squeals of laughter escaping her lips. Finally spent, she looked up at me a mischievous smile curling her lips. My eyes met hers questioningly. She tapped her hockey stick. My eyes widened in horror. “Oh no, don’t tell me you’ve beaten up a rival on the field,” I said.

She gave me one of her sweetest smiles. “No, don’t worry. The situation did not warrant any such aggressive reaction.”

Worry lines writ large on my forehead I asked “Then what? I know that smile of yours. You’ve been up to something I’m sure. Come on, out with it.”

“Tap, Tap.” There was someone at the door.

“Come in.”

A bunch of six stepped in. A look at them and I knew they too were in it with it with her. Suddenly she sprung up and with one deft move swished the hockey stick with full force. Then leaning against the side of my desk she said, “The guy will think twice before he meddles with a girl in future.”

“Which guy? What have you done? I hope you have not invited trouble,” I said.

“Hey, stop fretting like a mama- hen. Calm down it’s nothing serious, just a little practice session in the bus.”

“What? You’ve been wielding the stick in the bus?” My eyes once again widened in horror.

Placing her hands on my shoulders she narrated a tale of guts.

Mumtaz Begum and team were returning after a grueling match. Sunset was fast creeping in. The first bus that arrived was full. Yet the team decided to board it not wanting to get late entering the hostel. The first half of the journey from Calicut city to Malaparamba was uneventful. The bus being jam- packed, the team was standing in the aisle. Slowly one by one with each passing stop, the commuters started getting off. Half – way through the journey, a young chap of around twenty five or so entered the bus and stood near the girls. The bus gained speed. Suddenly, Mumtaz who was standing behind the others noticed one of the girls squirm and move to one side. A few seconds passed, another girl let out a small yell. The man moved away and looked the other side pretending to be unaware of the cause of uneasiness of the girl. Nothing happened for the next five minutes or so. The man shifted position. One hand came to rest on the girl’s back. Suddenly she turned around, eyes blazing in anger she mumbled something below her breath. Mumtaz who was a mute spectator till then, took a step forward. The bus came to a halt. It was time for the team to disembark. They trooped out one by one, Mumtaz making up the rear.

Suddenly there was a movement. A hockey stick was raised only to come down with full force. The man let out a yell as the stick came into contact with his legs. Taken unawares he doubled up in pain. The stick was raised a second time. It landed on his back. Then without a word the ‘Mardaani’ of the team got off. The bus sped away carrying with it a man who had maybe for the first time, faced the might of a girl.

It’s been over thirty three years since this incident took place. Yet it is still is fresh in my mind, as fresh as the morning dew. Graduation over Mumtaz and me parted ways. The last time I heard of her, she was working in a bank.

Today when I think of her, I feel proud to have had her as a close friend and at the same time feel sad to have lost contact with her. Now as I narrate this incident I am tempted to salute her and others like her who do not give in to fear but stand up and fight against crime perpetrated against women. In honour of these brave souls I pen the following –

They come, they think
She is hapless, she is weak
Forget they
She is power, she is steel

She cries not out of pain or fear
She cries out of empathy and love for a dear
She is no weakling nor loser is she
She is a fighter, a winner is she

But for her, the human race would be a story long forgotten
She begets, she raises, she is patience personified
Love her, respect her, she’ll stand up for you
Tease her, trample her, she will hit back at you.

BEWARE OF HER. SHE IS WOMAN POWER. SHE IS ‘MARDAANI.’

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This is written as a part of I am Mardaani activity exclusively at BlogAdda.com for Indian Bloggers.

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Please leave your footprints in the form of comments and suggestions. Your words mean a lot to me.

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About Geeta Nair

Born in Independent India to two really wonderful people who cherished and nourished me with great care, I consider myself lucky to have had the best that life could offer me. Lucky to have had the best education , the best sibling, the best husband, the best daughter,the best of everything that I could ever want, Love to live life on my terms .

5 responses »

  1. A woman of power! Thanks Geeta for sharing this inspiring story about Mumtaz. There are times when such actions are definitely needed. Hope the guy learnt his lesson well.

    Like

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