Don’t have a husband? Hmmm, then you must be a whore?

It is easy to judge people based on few pointers that we know about them. I don’t know about other countries but Indians have mastered the art of judging a woman by just one factor – whether she is single or married. And if you are a single, independent woman living alone in a city then they have empirical evidence to prove that you are a whore.

I have read about it, watched TV shows about it, but this reality struck me home only yesterday, right in front of my apartment.

I am a journalist for a magazine (Governance Now) in Delhi and live in a rented apartment in Delhi with two friends. I am 29 years old and unmarried, which is a cause of problem to many. We have a normal life which includes work, friends and a general everyday life which anyone in a city would be involved with. We have few male friends who come to our house, that too not very often. No more or less than any other normal place in Delhi.

However, my neighbour has developed a problem with us and routinely complains of us making noise (we are not at home the entire day for making noise and we never make noise. We are past the age of loud parties anyway). Once we ordered food and the delivery boy rang her bell instead of ours by mistake. She threatened to call the cops for disturbing her. On many other occasions she has gone for fighting matches with my roommates while I was at work. Somehow, you can say it was my luck, I never came in her range of hatred.

Until yesterday, when I was waiting for my roommates outside my apartment as I did not have my key. My landlady, who lives on the floor below, who keeps a set of our keys with herself, was also not home. While waiting on the stairs, I got a mail from a friend that she got through Columbia University, US for an MA. I got excited and called her and in my excitement, raised my voice to shout out a big “congratulations” to her. In a moment my neighbour, a Ms Geeta Mehta, was out telling me to lower my voice as this is an “educated society” and that children were studying for their exams. I looked at her, waved my hand and mouthed an “Okay” and continued speaking on the phone in a lowered voice.

However, Ms Mehta was not convinced and went on to say that we create a ruckus in the building all day and that she knows “what profession we are involved in.” “Guys come and go here the whole day, thats what you do,” she said.

I told her to stop this nonsense but she continued. In the commotion that followed, in which she ranted that we are prostitutes and have converted this place into a brothel, I asked her to “shut up and fuck off” because I was very disturbed. For which she replied, “This is what it is, you are worth just a fuck!”

I am an educated woman and belong to an upper middle class society. My parents are both doctors and brother is pursuing his PhD from Georgia Tech University, USA. I am an Engineer turned journalist and have a post graduate degree from one of the best universities in the country, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

My family has IAS officers and engineers and professors. If this is happening to me, living in a gated community in a posh South Delhi locality, I can imagine what millions of women who are not as fortunate and are trying to etch out a career path have to go through each day. Single women are just one type of othering that happens in our society. We are other people who just don’t fit in the mould.

I don’t have to go far. This woman, Geeta Mehta, routinely harasses and abuses my landlady who is a single mother, having lost her husband a few years ago. For her too, Ms Mehta has the same diatribe – that just because she is alone she is sleeping with all and sundry and earning her money from prostitution.

I am disappointed in the world today. There is seriously no country for single women.

This is our neighbour Geeta Mehta. Calls herself a ‘professor’ who teaches in MBA colleges. Is not even fit enough to be human.