“Keep your sandals out”! The rude and stern voice of the lady, a young nurse in a white uniform and face mask, had pulled me down to the reality that I stepped into the ECG room without removing my sandals. Without questioning her authority over the said room, I quietly moved out , slipped out of my sandals and, before walking in, checked for a signboard which demanded walking in with a naked foot but failed to trace out the same anywhere there. When walking back to her, I advised her softly to keep such a board outside so that she could be more welcoming and pleasing to the patients approaching her to come out of their duress. Instead of giving a reply to that, she looked harshly into my eyes and ordered me to lie down on the stretcher-like bed, covered with a blue-tinted curtain, after removing the shirt. While waiting for her to plug the wires into my body to measure the rhythm of my heartbeats, I closed my eyes tightly, observing my breath, to keep myself calm from the rude behaviour of the staff nurse of a prominent Charitable Hospital at Sasthamangalam, Trivandrum. Rudeness is definitely a perspective, and the gauge of its impact will change from person to person, but the same will offend you more when such an attitude comes from a person responsible for showing more empathy. Being offended, I decided to ask her about the reason for her rude behaviour and waited for her to come, but at the very same moment, I realised the fact that I was all alone with her in that room, with no one in the vicinity. Being an advocate by profession, suddenly from nowhere, the provisions of the Indian Penal Code rushed into my mind, which provides for imprisonment for a term not less than one year but may extend to five years for outraging the modesty of a woman. I also recollected that the moral modesty of a woman is said to be the sense of shame or bashfulness that a woman feels when faced with any act intended to outrage her modesty. The psychological modesty of a woman is said to be her innate sense of self-respect and dignity, I recollected from my memory.
Being awakened by the legal provisions and its consequence, I looked for a CCTV Camera to prove my innocence if she replied harshly to my advice again. Whether my query about her ‘rudeness’ would be deemed as ‘outraging her modesty’ and would eventually make her ashamed and finally award me some prison days, the thought of which had flushed my mind with fear. As I could not find any CCTV camera and with no person in the vicinity, I decided to keep my eyes and mouth shut during the entire process; further, quietly and politely came out of that cabin, put back my sandals, and walked to the car to reach home safely. After all, I was fully relieved that I had not outraged the modesty of a woman who was rude to me.
Bijoy P Pulipra