She tossed on her bed unable to sleep. She did repeat the Alathur Hanuman prayer for the umpteenth time now. Yet sleep goddess wouldn’t make an appearance. When you’re in trouble even the Gods seem to be leaving you all alone.
She switched on the torch and looked at the wall clock. It was 3.40 a.m. Sun will be up shortly. She was scared. She didn’t want this night to be over. She had been going through this hell for almost a year now.
She saw him at the bus stand quite a few times. He looked decent. But not great enough to grab her attention. He was just another co-passenger like the many others who boarded the chartered bus with her daily. Unintentionally she had noticed that he used to get down somewhere around Barakhamba Road. It was quite late when she realized that he was stalking her to her office in Rohini. She changed her timing, her bus and the bus stop. Only to realize that now he started chasing her on his motorcycle. With the meager salary that she fetched she was to pay the rental of her PG accommodation, her monthly fees and also handle the other miscellaneous expenses. There was nothing she could save. But this stalker was now killing her. And so she started spending on auto-rickshaws.
That did not help. Her fear got worse. She read about four guys who kidnapped and raped a girl from a nearby locality in their auto. She stopped taking autos.
She started making mistakes at office. Somehow she didn’t find the courage to discuss this with even her closest associates. After all, while growing up, she had heard her mother repeat the famous Malayalam saying “Ila mullil veenalum mullu ilayil veenalum, ilaykanu dosham”. The English translation would be “whether leaf falls on thorn or thorn falls on leaf; it is the leaf that will suffer”!
In the meantime the stalker gained more and more confidence. He now started following her. In the bus, he would stand next to her. Or he would wait and sit next to her. She used to study her chapters while travelling. But now she lost focus. She could not concentrate. She was always praying that he doesn’t turn up. But he did. If by any chance he missed the bus, he started following her on his bike. She was dying every single day. It was suffocating.
When she had landed up in the National Capital Territory upon fetching this job, she was scared to be back in her room. The loneliness was scary. But now, she yearned to be back in her room just to be all alone. She feared everyone. She feared everything. The pizza delivery guy. The girl in the next room. The knock at the door. The landlady’s phone ringing. The car that was screeching to a halt in the parking lot. The alarm clock. She did not want to see or meet anyone. She did not want to hear any sound.
The last straw was when she received a Valentine’s Day card in her name at her office address. And immediately afterwards there was a phone call at her extension. It was him. She could barely hear anything post hearing her name. She froze.
She realized that he had followed her once to the exhibition stall at Pragati Maidan and would have seen her name on the badge and got her company name. But she worried. She worried about what was going to happen next.
She stopped going to office. It was three days now. She quietly lay on her bed watching the blades of the ceiling fan. She woke up from her trance when the landlady knocked at her door continuously. She had forgotten to pay her bills that month. She told the lady that she would do so by noon. She collected herself and managed to freshen up. With great difficulty she got out of her room and walked towards the main gate. It felt like she was out from captivity. She walked up to the nearest ATM and withdrew the money. She counted it, kept it in her purse and walked out of the ATM. There he was standing right in front of her. He was smiling. She froze for a second.
She ran. She ran madly. She doesn’t remember which were the lanes she ran through. Somehow she reached her room. After locking the room she looked out of her window. He was standing and staring at the various windows of the house. She started pacing up and down the room.
She took out the card and the letter. It read:
Priya, my intention is not to scare you. I like you and would love to be your friend. Let me know if you are alright with it. Please feel free to let me know if you do not wish to be my friend. I promise I’ll not chase you anymore.
She read it some hundred times. Went up to the window. Peeped and saw him. Came back and read it all over again. She could not gather the courage to talk to him or to anybody else.
As the daylight broke, he reached the house. He was standing and waiting for her. She did not turn up. She wasn’t visible even in the balcony. Her room curtains were drawn. As dusk fell, he returned with a heavy heart.
Next morning as he reached the house, he saw a crowd and two PCR vans in the vicinity. He was worried. So he waited outside. Anxiously and praying for her welfare.
A little later he saw a body being taken out of the house and taken into the ambulance which had just reached.
He heard the domestic help of the house tell people that a girl named Priya had committed suicide by hanging on the ceiling fan. The police could not find any suicide note or any other evidence of what would have made her attempt this.
Many a times the intention of a guy is only to befriend the girl because he likes her or loves her. Unfortunately, the sad reality of our society is it that it only teaches the girls the following things.
- She should protect herself from everyone
- She should fear everyone
- She should not talk to anyone
- She should not have any confidants
- She should keep her mouth shut always
- She should blame herself for anybody’s fault
- She should punish herself for an incident which might have taken place
- She should bury the evidence to protect her family honour
I am one of those who was stalked. But I was one of those fortunate enough to have overcome the fear. I am one of those fortunate ones who did not end up committing suicide. I am a mother of two girls and I would not want them to be afraid of anyone. I would want them to come and talk to me or to anybody that they trust. My family honour isn’t more worthy than my girls. I’m sure you too wouldn’t want your girls to commit something like this for no fault of theirs. Teach them to not be afraid of anyone. Teach them to speak out. Teach them to be courageous enough to confront the wrong-doers. Teach them that they can come to you no matter what.
This is in response to Project 365’s prompt:
People are afraid of all kinds of things: spiders, the dark, or being enclosed in small spaces. Tell us about your fear — rational or irrational.