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, reader Ram shares his online experience with an unknown woman:
I don't know if this qualifies as being stalked, but I still thought of sharing my experience.
It was when I had taken up my first job in a small firm, some seven years back The whole thing started with an innocuous mail to my personal ID, starting with the line 'You don't know me, but I know you'. The mail went on to tell me what the writer liked about me -- my looks, my style etc -- and admonished me for my smoking habit. It was signed with a girl's name I didn't recognise.
At first I dismissed it as a prank played on me by one of my friends and mentioned as much in my reply. It graduated to an exchange of a few mails over the week -- nothing I was worried about. But things went bad when she started meeting colleagues of mine -- female colleagues -- and started talking to them about me.
It got worse when one of my colleagues claimed that she was being pestered by this lady and that I should put a stop to this. In the meantime, all efforts from my side to meet in person were spurned.
People claim that guys don't feel afraid or don't need to be afraid in such situations. I was scared! I had a reputation to maintain, my job was at stake because there was a slowdown and there was this very real fear that my family may be dragged into it. I also had the suspicion that it was indeed one of my colleagues -- the very one claiming to be pestered by the stalker.
One fine day I got a call and my mom picked up the phone. She handed it to me saying that it was this girl (Mom didn't know anything it at the time). The voice sounded very much like my colleague's (mentioned above) and I told the caller, so she got angry/ unhappy/ afraid and put the phone down.
My mom was curious and I had to come clean with her, too (pretty embarrassing talk -- I mean, how many guys have you heard of who have been stalked?).
That call, a couple of strong mails from my side and a frank chat with the colleague finally put an end to things. The mails and phone calls stopped.
To this date I do not know the identity of my stalker for sure (the colleague is still only a suspect). I don't have a face to match that mail ID. I am today married and happy and have moved on in life. But those few weeks still remain etched in my memory and will be for a long time to come.
I retain all those mails -- both hers and mine -- in a separate folder in my mailbox.
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