Vishal, 27, is doing Phd in Delhi university.
A romantic evening
Staying in Delhi, I met a lot of interesting women. One time, I remember, I met a girl named Rachna. She was from a different college and was doing her bachelors. While I was in my third year of PhD, we met during a protest march and became friends. The gap of seven years in our ages didn't stop us from chatting and knowing each other.
One evening, she asked me where I was. I told her that I was free and sitting in my hostel. To my surprise, she invited me to her flat. It was about thirty minutes away. I got myself a cab and went ahead to meet her.
Enroute, she was asking what I would like to have. Wine and macaroni were being offered, so I immediately said yes. It was going to be a fun night, I thought. Not knowing what the future had in store for me.
Upon reaching, she greeted me with a hug. Walked me through her flat. The kitchen was nice and clean. The bedroom had a mini-library. We started dancing and handholding. Then I switched off the lights.
What went wrong?
We sat together on the mattress and the dining session began. Only a small lamp was on. In that cosy bedroom, I couldn't help but get closer to her. She didn't mind. In a few minutes after dinner, we began kissing. But as soon as I put my hand on her breasts, she became angry. Got up and switched on the lights.
I wasn't sure what to say. So kept my mouth shut, waiting for my chance to apologise. Before any of that could happen, she told me to leave her flat.
I picked up my bag, checked my wallet and left. Expecting the cab at midnight was no fun. I stood there on the road with a confused mind. I could not understand what went wrong. Was she ready for getting intimate or did I just assume it? Rachna had turned my head upside down on the idea of consent.
Did she/did she not consent?
I mean, think about it. Never ever a girl has told me to have sex with her. I don't even think it will ever happen. Will a girl ever say, ‘I agree with the proposal of putting your penis inside my vagina’.
After a lot of Rachanas in my life, I have realised that there is certainly a way to understand consent. Look for a ‘No’. If I try to kiss and she turns her face away, I get the message that she is not interested.
If I put my finger in her panty and she takes it out, I get the message. She is not willing to go ahead. Simple.
I kissed Rachna, she replied. I touched her boobs, she didn't like that. Her response was shocking to me. But that was her way of not giving consent.
And a ‘No’ sometimes means leaving a cosy flat at midnight. I learned the hard way that for consent it is important to understand yes as well as a no.
To protect the identity, the person in the picture is a model and names have been changed.