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.
About the author: Arpit Chhikara loves to read, write, draw and take long walks while listening to podcasts. Besides writing on various themes related to SRHR, he also works in the alternative education domain. When not at home, you can find him living in lesser-known places in India. You can check him on Instagram.