Lay your cards on the table

12th Ramadan

1. “My mom didn’t”

mymomdidnt

This, from today’s PostSecret. I mean, WHOA. Right? It might as well have been sent by me.

2. TV addict

I am eternally grateful to this Thought Catalog article for introducing me to the brilliance that are My Mad Fat Diary, which I – yes, binge-watched – in two days, and Orphan Black, which I am also binge-watching. I’m really, really excited when tv shows are so good. I’m getting the same feeling I got when I discovered Homeland last year.

3. So this is how it feels

This week was our (my?) first week without DS. On Monday I came in…and LO the new guy was seated at DS’s desk, as I knew he would. Still it took my breath away. And then AM asked me, not one minute after I sat down, “You’re missing him, aren’t you?” Because I’m the biggest softie in the world, my eyes immediately welled up. I was so afraid my voice would crack so I muttered my reply under my breath: “No.” AM’s response? “Liar.” I had to run to the bathroom to cry privately.

On Tuesday, AM mentioned that he was missing DS, that the office was quiet without him. I couldn’t handle that either. I had to run to the bathroom to cry. AM never mentioned DS again, but I didn’t need anyone to bring him up to be reminded of him and be sad all over again. My eyelid was twitching that day, and when the same thing happened the week before, it was DS I whined to about it. I actually looked around the office and wondered who I could tell about it now, and most importantly who would care. Needless to say, the answer to my question warranted another trip to the bathroom. I did the bathroom run about five times that day, no joke. I had to have a real good cry when I got home.

Wednesday onwards, however, I was okay. DS and I communicated a bit via Whatsapp. He made me laugh, as usual. Slowly but surely, I’ll be okay.

Missing one’s colleague is dumb.

4. The Talk

I finally had The Talk with AM. About his perv of a friend, the bloody feet tickler. Despite my cool and steady preamble, AM was cupping his mouth with his hand. I asked him why he was doing that, and what he said made me laugh my head off: “I just know your story will make me cringe.” Haha!

The first thing he said was, “That’s what someone would do in the UK.”

(P.S. Not at any point during our conversation was AM a dick. He was very nice and understanding about the whole thing, even if he was trying to defend his friend.)

Me: You lot are not in the UK anymore. Try again.

Him: You don’t speak with a Singaporean accent, and apart from not dressing skimpily, you don’t look like a Muslim. He probably has no idea you’re even a Muslim.

Me: Whether or not I’m a Muslim has got nothing to do with it. It should not matter what I am or what I’m not. He should just learn not to touch people as he pleases. Feet tickling was just taking the piss.

Him: I agree. That’s too much.

Me: I’m not asking for your approval. This is just a ‘letting you know’ thing, a heads up of what happened and what I’m going to do. Next time if he even touches my hand I’m going to…

Him: Don’t slap him. *laughs*

Me: *laughs* (AM knows me well.) No, I won’t slap him.

Him: Unless he slaps your arse first.

Me: Oh. YES. If he did that I would punch him. But if he even so much as touches my hand I’m going to tell him no. I’m going to say it like this, “I prefer not to be touched.” I’ve had enough.

At this juncture I need to thank Chelsea for the wonderful comment she left on my original post. If you read her comment you will see that I lifted those words exactly – and the rest of my conversation – from her comment. My conversation with AM kind of went as she (sort of) predicted it would.

Him: Ah…okay. But maybe you could soften the blow a bit? Maybe you could say, “I’m a Muslim. It’s not my culture to touch the opposite sex unless we’re blood related. So I hope you don’t touch me. If you don’t mind.”

Me: *laughs* NO. First of all, he’s not a child. I don’t need to ‘soften the blow’. Secondly, I don’t need to justify why I prefer not to be touched. I just don’t. I don’t have to give anyone a reason. It’s my body and I’ll make the decisions. And thirdly, ‘If you don’t mind’? Are you serious right now, AM? I don’t care if he minds it or not. I still don’t want to be touched. (Although to be fair, “if you don’t mind” is such a British thing to say, a filler in a sentence. It doesn’t actually mean what it implies. But I still refuse to say it.)

Him: *sigh* You’re right. You’re absolutely right. You don’t have to justify it. He just has to respect it. (pause) Just be polite, yeah?

Me: I promise. Thank you, AM.

It went well, I suppose. AM knows now, and even better, I got him to agree with my approach to the situation.

Fuck having to be polite though. I hate that women are supposed to keep their cool when fending off perverts. For fear of humiliating them (I know precisely why I have to prevent that in this situation, but in different circumstances, when the harasser is just a random passing stranger – why do we care to maintain their dignity?), and for fear of some kind of retaliation (in my situation maybe not physical but in different circumstances, there’s always a chance they’ll go apeshit on you). I hate that women have to feel fear at all when we’re just trying to tell men to leave us alone. What can we do to change this?

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