In order to truly understand more about why I was so scared perhaps reading my previous article “Women Deserve to be Raped” may help you understand.
After spending 1 week in Kashmir, North Indian, it was then time to head south to Jammu. In order for us to leave Kashmir we had to take a car. (Should have flown) In a car meant for 6 we were 8 plus the driver.
This was by far the scariest 13 hours of my life.
I was sat in the very back of this car, imagine it was 3 in the very back, 4 in the back and then 2 in the front.
In Kashmir motorways don’t exist so we travelled 270 km in 13 hours, the last 60km being motorway so imagine the speed. Every 2 hours we would stop off in a village. Dust everywhere, no other colours except a dull grey and brown. There were 3 other cars going to Jammu. I was the only girl and we were the only tourists. So off we went.
The driver, a man probably around 25, was a cocky shit with the type of face you just wanted to punch. He was skinny, around 5 ft 7 extremely confident and seemed to think he was better than everyone. I was wearing a long skirt and a hoody, none of my body was showing.
After only 10 minutes, he moved his mirror so that he was looking directly at me. The driver started speaking to the other men, I assume about me as he was looking at me while he was talking and all the men would start laughing. The driver then started to blow kisses and constantly shouting my name and trying to get my attention. He would lick his lips and, eugh just thinking about him makes me feel sick. The driver would then look to see the reaction of Argo, (my boyfriend) the driver was trying to make Argo angry. At first I couldn’t hold my mouth.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing, stop fucking looking at me, you fucking prick”
Argo in spanish ” Phia, don’t, just ignore him, I’m telling you, you just wait until we get there, and I don’t care I will beat him so hard, but right now we have to just ignore him”
Luckily Argo and I could talk in Spanish but he was right. I think at that moment we both knew what vulnerable situation we were in. We didn’t say anything to each other but we were both thinking it. We arrived at the first village after passing through mountains and dirt tracks. I stepped out and there was not another woman in sight.
Argo looked at me like “shit, where the hell are we”.
All the men were looking at me, not even blinking. Argo took hold of my hand and squeezed it tight. It was so frightening. Now looking back I don’t know if I was scared because of what I knew happens to women, in villages exactly where I was or if I was actually scared because of what was happening to me. I think the behaviour of the driver and the other passengers who were mostly young men had made a huge impact on me. Therefore from the get go I was in a get ready to fight mode.
Throughout the trip if we ever passed a woman on the road who wasn’t wearing a burka the driver would slow down and say things to her, I’m assuming sexual disgusting things as he would be licking his lips waiting for a response. All the women would ignore him and try and walk past the car, avoiding eye contact. My heart was dying inside seeing how these women were treated. He’d then look at me through his mirror. I couldn’t hide my disgust. It made me think that maybe the reason why women wear the burka is to protect themselves from men like these. Not one man in the car spoke up to tell him to stop what he was doing. Not one.
6 hours had past and we were travelling along mountain roads. The roads were not very wide and at the side there was a huge cliff. The driver was constantly over taking the cars in front as there was huge hold ups. He was doing it on corners and would simply beep to let them know he was coming.
All I could think was if we get hit right now only slightly, we will be hit off the cliff in a second, and dead. I was more worried about the fact something would happen to Argo. Myself I wasn’t worried about, but being culpable for something happening to him, that I couldn’t live with. The road was like this.
My anxiety was unbelievable. I was so stressed and literally thought we were going to die. My stress got so high that my hands started to go numb. I couldn’t talk, everything was out of my control and we still had another 7 hours to go. This is when you have to control your state of mind. I just kept repeating in my mind. If this is the moment we’re meant to die then so be it, everything that happens, happens to teach you something.
Although it didn’t help that every 2 hours we would pass a car absolutely smashed up. All I wanted was to arrive in Jammu.
Once we got around 60 km away from Jammu, a motorway appeared and we were able to get to Jammu within 20 minutes instead of 2 / 3 hours. The driver actually stopped the car to go and have a tea. I couldn’t believe it we were nearly there after 13 hours and he wants to prolong this hell to have a chai tea.
“What are you doing, we have to catch a train” I shouted as he stepped out the car
“I’m getting a tea”
“I’m sorry but we have to catch a train, its in 30 minutes” I lied, happily
The driver reluctantly got back in his car and took us to Jammu. The driver even tried to drop us off on the outskirts of Jammu because he was too lazy to take us to the train station. I, now feeling more like myself, more in control and not in such a vulnerable situation, argued until he got us back in the car and took us to the train station.
At this point the others had already got out where he tried to palm us off. So now Argo and I got back in the car. This time we weren’t in the very back. Driving now for 5 minutes then BOOM! The car was hit.
The idiot of a driver had tried to be clever and turn right at the junction while a car was coming. The car was hit in the back where Argo and I had been sitting previously. You know what I was actually happy. This absolute, revolting, excuse of a man was so precious about his car and now it had a huge dent in the back. Argo and I weren’t hurt. All I could think was KARMA.
We arrived at the train station. Got out of the car with our backpacks, didn’t even look at the man and off we went. He is the definition of what’s wrong with India.
2 hours to wait before our train. We entered the tourist office and were greeted with huge smiles, we explained the last few torturous hours. I think they’d heard the same story many times.
I don’t think I have ever felt more grateful to be alive. I just burst into tears. I couldn’t stop crying, not because I was sad or upset. It was the pure relief that we had survived, I could finally relax and stop trying to mentally control my fear. To top it off the feeling in my hands started to resurface.
Below are some pictures of when we arrived.
I was mentally and emotionally exhausted.
The lesson here was, that no matter how scared you may be the key is to control your state of mind. If you can manage to control the fear that you are experiencing then you will be able to deal with the situations much more efficiently. Your mind is unbelievably powerful.
Fear is rational however the reactions you have when experiencing fear can be irrational.
I learnt more about myself in those 13 hours than probably a year of living.
I honestly don’t know what would have happened to me if I had been on my own.