We invited readers to comment on how young people can deal with stalkers and obsessive lovers. We also carried professional advice and a few harrowing accounts from young women. Here, we cross over to the other side of the fence with reader Raghu's story -- he used to follow a girl around but says it was harmless and because he was in love:
This is an experience from the other side of table. That of a stalker. The villain in your article.I don't like to call myself a stalker. Never thought of myself in the same bracket really. Well, every stalker thinks of himself as Romeo and of his girl as Juliet!
This was about six years ago. I was young (I like to believe I am still young, ha ha!) -- a 22-year-old software engineer living in Bangalore. I used to live near the Kemp Fort area on the Old Airport Road with my gang of friends. Just to explain the setting, this road forks out in two separate directions, each going one-way. On one side there is a bus stop, and opposite it is an Udipi-style restaurant -- if I may say so, the 'stage' of this episode.
I had just bought a new bike and still didn't know how to ride very well, I was still using 'L' plates. When I was out riding, I would not take my eyes off the road, not even for a second. I never once looked to the side or got distracted. On that fine day, I was driving down the Old Airport Road. For a second I looked up and saw 'her', walking along the side of the street on the way to the bus stop. I quite did not pay any attention to her at that moment.
Every ride takes us to a destination in life and I reached my destination for the day, my office. But somehow, I was feeling disturbed. My mind was not in my work. I felt very agitated. Then I knew why -- I had seen the girl I wanted to spend my life with and did not pay any attention to her. At least, that is how I thought of it then. She looked so, so pretty, though my view is very likely biased.
Next morning, I went to the Udipi opposite the bus stop, watching out for her -- it has a place outside where you can sit and drink tea. And from where I was, she could see me clearly from the bus stop. That was my favorite spot. Thus the journey had begun.
Over the next few days (by stalking her, as you say!), I discovered that she was studying at the college near Richmond Circle. She used to catch the BMTC bus near Kemp Fort and that is where I had seen her.It became a routine for me to sit at the restaurant in the morning, wait till she came, see her go off in the bus and after that go to my office. On the days I didn't see her, I used to feel very agitated. Sometimes I hopped into the bus, rode on it till her college and came back after that. I never went near to her or anything like that in the bus, but I just wanted to see her. Okay, that was not too often --maybe five-six times in that six-month period.
Now, if a beautiful girl passes in front of us, we do look at her (ladies and gentlemen, don't blame me for that!). But I distinctly remember in those times, I started to behave like a very committed married man (not that all married man are that committed, ha ha!). If any gal passed by in front of me, I would look elsewhere. I started to avoid even looking at any gal, even in the mall or while walking down the street. Thinking back, it kind of seems funny.
This continued for about six months. Then one fine day I decided to talk to her. It was near her college, I went up to her and said, "Excuse me Madam, I want to talk to you." It seems like a very non-interesting thing to say now, but then, at that moment, all my prepared dialogues were simply forgotten. And she went off without saying anything, not quite running but still, going away. You see, I still did not know what to do. I did not understand whether she was shy or she was saying a clear 'no'.
Quite frankly, it was not as if I was enjoying the situation -- it is just as painful being in love with someone and not knowing what they think or what to do. When we are young, we are too nervous to talk to the person we are attracted to and say what we think of them, even if we know the person very well. In this case, she was a total stranger.
A few days later, I decided it was enough, and went up to her again while she was about to catch her bus. I said, "I want to have a chat with you," asked her name and if we could sit over a coffee and have a chat just once. I think I was saying a lot of nonsense as well at that desperate moment, like "I am not a bad guy, I am from a pretty good family, I am a decent guy, blah, blah, blah..." Needless to say, she refused.If she had enough patience and had spoken for a while, maybe we would have written this story together for Valentine's Day, but that was not to be. She was refusing to talk, without even listening to me. It felt so horrible. I was thinking, what could I do to make her talk to me? But I just did not know what to do.
I felt so helpless. It was like my boat was sinking and a boat passing nearby said they can't rescue me without saying why. It was like studying for an examination all year round, and then being refused the hall ticket on some technical grounds. Utter confusion and horror and helplessness all at the same time. You might choose to call this an infatuation but I think that every unsuccessful love is called an infatuation.
When we are very happy, we all laugh aloud. When we are sad, a few drops wet the cheeks. When we are hit with a sense of great loss in life, we cry. But neither before that nor after, have I ever felt such an overwhelming sense of loss that I could not even cry and tears refused to come. For the next two-three days, my body was trembling, yet I could not cry. It felt like I had suddenly become deaf; I just could not hear what people around me were saying. Then tears came from nowhere -- they started out as a few drops falling from the eyes and then I broke down, crying hysterically like a child for several hours.
Laughter and tears are the purest form of emotion. They say so much without uttering a word. And they give such relief and restore a sense of balance in us. Slowly, I began to understand the reality. I could not blame her, really. I was just another stranger to her, irrespective of what she meant to me. But the thought of asking her again did not go away.
In the previous articles, it says stalkers will be afraid and all that. Come on, not everybody who goes after a girl is a stalker. At times a person can get bitten by the love bug in adolescence. I must say, I never felt afraid of others standing by and all that sort of stuff. The only thing I was afraid of was her saying no.
The next day I was riding the bike and because of the traffic, I had to stop right in front of the bus stop. She was standing in front, but the moment she saw me she made her way backwards. That was, in a way, an eye-opener for me. I must confess that till that moment, I never thought she was afraid of me or anything like that. But at that moment, it was obvious. Maybe she thought I would cause some harm to her. What a ridiculous thought really -- me harming her. At that point I felt I could do nothing further to convince her to talk to me.
I went across the road to the hotel on the opposite side and stood in front of it for one last time. She stood across the road. Between us, there was traffic moving in opposite directions, just like we were on the road of life. The roads in between us were running parallel to each other, as if they never wanted to meet each other anywhere.TO MY UNKNOWN FRIEND: All the anguish I caused you was totally unintentional. Over the years, maybe you have forgotten and forgiven me. Please forgive me if you have not already done so. I never meant to harm you, never, never. Not for a day, not for a minute, not for a second...I know I behaved like a silly fool. But what can I do...I was an idiot.
I still work as a software engineer, like most other people in Bangalore. If you want to scream at me or throw bricks or just say hello -- I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you ever been stalked? How did you deal with it? Please share your experiences and suggestions with us. Send your stories to email@example.com (subject line: 'Stalker experience') and we'll publish them right here on rediff.com
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh