For some strange reason, more and more friends seem to feel that they are “being stalked”. I wonder if it’s a coincidence that they are all women. At one level, that’s so unfair: I mean, why can’t women turn stalkers (a la Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction) and prey on unsuspecting males? Okay, I used to have at least one male ex-colleague who always claimed, “I’m being stalked…” By women obviously. But I — along with almost everyone else around him — suspected most of the stalking was happening inside his head: “Dream on,” I’d tell him.
A few days ago, a girl friend told me how a “good friend” was stalking her. Funnily enough, while this particular stalker seemed perfectly normal when he knew her in Delhi, he changed tack the moment he moved to Bombay. Maybe it was the distance, but “I can’t take this ‘How are you my lovely?’ rubbish any more,” my friend ranted. “And how I’m ‘The Only One’, and ‘Hang in there, I’m coming back for you’.”
I’ve had my share of stalking too. A couple of years ago, some chap who’d seemed perfectly harmless – and genial to boot – suddenly turned psychotic. First, he gave me blank calls. Then, he hacked into my rediff.com email ID and changed my password; I couldn’t log in but since, by then, I had my gmail.com ID, I didn’t particularly care. The last straw was when he started sending mails to a few people who were listed in my address book. In the mails, he wrote (but virtually, it was ME who was writing), “I’m so lonely… waiting for you.”
The alarmed recipients touched base with me: what was wrong with me, they asked.
I got in touch with rediff.com. They sent me the new password (which Mr Stalker-cum-Hacker had installed); I got a systems chap to trace where the ‘sent messages’ had been despatched from. Soon, I had my answer – in the form of a domain server name.
Bottom line: it was bloody spooky.
My ex-housemate, who’s just moved back to Canada (she’d come to India for a couple of years), had a story about a man who’d keep calling her on her mobile. “For a long time,” she’d say, “I would be scared to step out of the house: it could have been the next-door neighbour, who knows?”
My first stalker film was Ten To Midnight, where a ‘maniac’ (that was the first time I heard that word) stalked pretty young things, and somehow managed to get into their houses – usually when the babes were in the shower. Then, he got on to the slashing act.
That was a long time ago. On Thursday night, I was watching a movie called Bas Ek Pal at home. Urmila Matondkar was being stalked, even though it was in nice kind of a way. I know that sounds oxymoronic, maybe even moronic, but here goes. The stalker was an old flame, and she still had the hots for him; however, she was holding her horses since she was betrothed to someone else. Stalker plonked himself outside Urmi’s house, and was watching every move she made. Earlier, he had been sending her flowers, accompanied by unsigned love-notes.
At one level, the ‘victim’ was probably enjoying all this attention, but I couldn’t help a creepy shiver going down my spine: what if someone rang my doorbell right then and there – and turned out to be a stalker?
Willing suspension of disbelief notwithstanding, it wasn’t a pleasant thought. It was very late in the night. I switched off my DVD player, called a friend for reassurance (“You’re watching too many bad movies – try watching The Sound of Music instead,” was his unsympathetic take), and crashed.
Postscript: A few days ago, I was surfing the Net and I hit upon Arpit’s blog site. He says that doesn’t like reading newspapers; but he likes reading columns. His favourite is, ahem, ‘Single in the City’. And he calls me “a very bold writer”. I love that. Thanks, Arpit.