By Nidhi Mahajan
Standing in the middle of my neighbourhood market, I found myself observing faces, trying to measure the goodness and wickedness in people by their facial attributes, their expressions. I was driven to this daily exercise by a certain phone call one evening.
My stalker did not have a face, I did not know who he was. He did have many phone numbers and used them to call me at different times of the day.
How It Began
It began at the time of demonetisation. The lines were long, the bank crowded, and the process tedious. I had my documents ready in my hands, eager to get to the exchange counter. The only thing I was paying attention to were my aching feet and back.
Returning home from the bank, I felt accomplished. I had managed to procure some new and shiny 2000 rupee notes. What I didn’t realise at the time was that somehow I had also managed to procure a stalker.
He called me that evening and told me that he had noted my number from the documents that I had in my hands. He was smug about it.
What He Said
In the days that followed, he called me several times, always from a different number. He followed me everywhere because he knew where I had been throughout the day. He would call and ask if I liked a particular cuisine because he had seen me outside a certain restaurant.
I repeatedly asked him to stop the nonsense, to not call me anymore. I warned him that I will report him. The latter seemed like an empty threat, even to myself, because how was I going to report a nameless and faceless person.
What I Did
When he started calling me at night, I knew I had to do something, anything. So, I called the stalking helpline number. A woman picked up after a series of recorded messages asking me to choose the manner of my complaint.
The woman asked me if I knew the man, I said no. She asked me how he had got my number, I explained it to her. She yawned. She asked me for the number he was calling from, I told her all the numbers that I had noted so far. She said my complaint was registered.
Nothing happened. He called again the next day and the next. In the end, I had to change my number. Even now, months later, I am scared to pick up calls from unknown numbers.
You know what the worst part is? Even though this is the worst stalking incident I have faced, this is not the only time I was stalked. Stalking is more common than we actually accept because when it happens we either ignore it or change our own paths to dodge it.