a story by pushkar prabhat
It was her regular route, not very busy or crowded but not dreary or desolate. A few street shops and a fair amount of constant traffic was always there. It was a fairly secure.
She took this, daily to her classes and the trip back. Every turn, every tree, every house, every shop, every rough patch, every stone, every element was part of her memory and every step a reflex. This evening however, was not one of her regular days.
Something was distinctly different, distinct enough to make this routine path seem strange, even unknown. She kept frantically looking over her shoulders, scanning every inch of her surrounding, stopping and looking around every now and then.
‘What is it?’ she kept asking herself, but couldn’t identify.
She was feeling strange. She had been feeling this since past two days. She felt like being stalked, followed or worse, hunted. This feeling was not new, though. Unfortunately, she remembered this from experience, a painful past. Yes, she had been stalked before; well, who could blame her, she was pretty and 17.
Not even a year had passed since the last incident. Her stalker was a local gangster and a drug addict. She had, with much effort, put behind the memory of that unfortunate day, when he had laid his eyes on her, for the first time.
She had just de-boarded the bus waving goodbyes to her friends, when he whistled at her. She was more disgusted by his appearance than she was terrified. His hair, cut like whatever was trending, his yellow shirt, too shiny and ridiculously tight. Denims voluntarily shredded and put holes into. His shoes were red, with green playboy bunny distastefully plastered on it. And more importantly red, why because red is a colour, is eye catching and again because it shines. His belt was a cheap copy of Harley Davidson, and that with a big buckle, with “STUD” written on it. And then chains, big, small, black, silver and golden, hanging from his neck, on and from his waist, wound around wrist, around every part just until there were no more chains left.
“How crazy one has to be to dress like that?” she thought, gave him a disgusting look and then went her way.
For a person like her, who carefully chooses her clothes to buy and then pair them even more carefully with other clothes and accessories, such people were ruthless criminals which was not far from the facts.
She began to find him waiting at the bus stand after that evening, every evening. Now he had also started catcalling her absurd, disturbing things. After a week he started following her, though from a good harmless distance. She had not reported any of this to her family, for some unknown reason; though, she should have. Then the distance gradually shrunk until one day he jumped on her. She was horrified. She ran home and told everything to her father. Her father scolded her more for her colourful clothes, attractive appearance and makeup and also for keeping this to herself for so long, than he seemed worried or sympathetic to her. Maybe this was what stopped her from crying for help, sooner.
Police was informed; the guy was apprehended and given a warning. The following stopped, but she could still spot him standing someplace, watching her. He was careful. He made sure she knows he is there but not where. And he was visible only for a moment. This made her paranoid, always on the edge, worried and tormented and scared………….this made her life hell.
Soon the Gods answered her prayers, she saw him on the local news about a shootout. He was gunned down in that fight. She was relieved and happy. But that feeling of someone following her, someone watching her, someone just about to attack her, stalked her for months.
Now this, that feeling again, and even stronger; dug out all buried demons. She had been very disturbed these 3 days, unable to sleep, eat, study or do anything properly. Her mind constantly occupied with all sorts of chaotic thoughts. But today was worse, everything seemed like before, she could just feel him looking at her, the sound of chains clicking against each other. She could feel him close, closer.
All the memories of past flooded her mind, she looked and looked and looked around, there was no one, tears rolled down, dampening her courage. She was sweating profusely, soiling her kurta and salwar. Sweat and tears diluted her senses, pushing her further towards the edge. The vein in her head started thumping and her heartbeat could be heard from a mile away.
“Who is it?” “Is it him?” “How could it be him.” “He is dead.” Her thoughts turned against her.
Her eyes, head and neck constantly moving in all possible directions, “who is it” “where is it”……..she increased her pace. She was attracting a lot of attention but no one came to help her. All eyes were on her making her nervous, more self conscious and further breaking her into sobs.
And then; she heard the whistle.
Her bag slipped from her shoulders dragging her dupatta along, she ran. She ran as fast as she could, pushing people aside, sprinting, stumbling, wailing, “Why me” “why me again” playing on repeat in her mind, not knowing where she was going, not caring where she was, just running, running fast until she reached home; stormed through the door startling everyone, ran up the stairs to her room, and dived surrendering herself into her bed.
She was still sweating like a fountain and crying hysterically when, suddenly she stopped. She looked up from the bed, looked around in panic. Swiftly crawled up the bed towards the head rest, squeezing herself into as minimal area as she could and covering herself with the sheets, she just looked and looked and looked around, searching for something, someone. All her family members had come running. Her mother was crying frantically, hugging her. Her brother was looking out of the window, and around the room to find, what she was searching for and afraid of. Her father was shaking her shoulders, trying to wake her up from this trance, and everyone asking her questions, “what is it? “What is wrong?” “Tell me?” “Why has happened?” “What are you afraid of?” “Why won’t you tell?”……..
Puzzled and overwhelmed with what they were witnessing, the questions increased, but there was no one to answer. She was not listening to them. Her eyes open wide, bewildered but not yet giving up, oscillating and scanning every inch of the room again and again to find this mysterious stalker with a constant rambling in her mind “Why?”, “Why me?”, “Why me again”.
Who was it? What was it?
Was it her subconscious, playing games with her……..
Was it a crude manifestation of a past nightmare? Or the past experience, being relayed out of context? Or both? Or was it something paranormal?
Whose fault was it?
There was no one to answer.
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I hope you liked reading this story……..its an old draft, so there might be some mistakes. If you noticed anything, kindly tell me in comments.
Check out my poems: My Poems
Or a series about writing poetry: Creating Poetry.
Maybe some comic strips :Spoken Silence.