The stalker in the red cap
Updated: Jan 26, 2022
“Once upon a time, there was not so little a girl. She lived in not so little a town. She was coming back home on her cycle after getting it repaired via not so dark a road at not at all an hour late in the night. She was wearing a not-even-a-bit revealing high neck paired with a not-so-body-fitted jeans and neither had her taboo zones shaped to full-bloom yet. She had a lot of scars from sports injuries but none from the world yet.”
I have been an ardent reader of the newspaper. There was a time when I used to read newspapers in search of facts, gospels from the government maybe. But in hindsight, reading the newspaper for a couple of years shows you trends; swiftly shifting ones, not so swiftly veering ones and then the paralyzed ones. I now sell my cleverness each day to buy bewilderment as I open the first page of that not so holy Bible. There are these skimpy sections of news that should be paid the most attention yet receive the least unless baptized “kand” by max media coverage and candle marches.
The not so little girl in a not so little town on a not so dark road was I. Well, in hindsight I surmise that what happened that night and many evenings and nights to follow definitely made me stronger. Where I actually give up the ghost is in understanding if was that the only way to get stronger? Or maybe in understanding if one really needs to foster the strength gained in this process?
What “barely” happened was :
Just to unravel the mystery of the dusk, I was not raped that evening, nor on the following evenings and nights. I was not even touched physically, no penis was forced on me, neither was the flesh of a pervert brushed against me. And natheless, when I look back I feel myself seduced into pain, hatred and apathy. What “barely” happened was, as I was pedaling my cycle , I felt a bike slowing down beside me. I pedaled faster. The bike accelerated. I slacked off the pedaling then since of course the swiftening wasn’t working; the biker decreased gears parallelly and in the bewilderment of those moments, suddenly the bike stopped right in front of me. A guy in a red cap was riding the bike, he “barely” did anything in that moment, except gazed at that 11 year old girl via my eyes; and asked her “What is your name, Madam? Please tell me your name.”
“What is your name, Madam? Please tell me your name.”
I put up as stern a face as possible but lowered my eyes, circumvented my cycle around and moved forward. I heard some murmurs, the nefarious laugh but I kept moving forward, stern and strong. And least did I know that my silence, my dodging gave him all the more of the thrill that he was looking for. He continued moving, beside me, behind me. I was trying to look around for a known face. Being my first time, I didn’t know if a stranger would be willing to help me out there! I couldn’t even figure out if approaching and telling this to anyone I see around made sense - “That guy in the red cap asks my name, sir. Can you help me out please?”. I was teary eyed and terror-stuck, I tried escaping in a few byways but he just kept riding around. Then in a random split-second, I just gathered some courage, took my cycle on the road and rushed towards the nearest known house . He followed me fervently until I rang the door to that house. He left then! I called my mom to pick me up. He was waiting on the road ahead but left as soon as he saw her!
“That guy in the red cap asks my name, Sir. Can you help me out please?”
It wasn't just "once upon a time":
This all-consuming evening of my life was not one-off, but days after days after days; the guys changed, their lines changed too! The only thing common across was their joblessness and the thrill they derived from this. I changed my timings, my routes, and my plans too once in a while whenever I saw one of these creatures. But nevertheless, the population in India was increasing at the rate of 67,000 kids per day. And proportionately was soaring the number of these creatures I would find on every other turn!
While I have already blamed lack of education, unemployment, and excess of population for the menace that this phenomenon; for which the euphemism used in India is eve-teasing; causes. Ask any girl around, it never feels as glorifying as Varun Dhawan chasing an uninterested Alia Bhatt in ‘tune English mein jab humko daanta, toh aashiq surrender hua; pyar se maara galon pe chanta toh aashiq surrender hua’ or Akshay Kumar stalking a distressed Bhumi Pednekar, following her on a motorcycle and hideously clicking her pictures in ‘hans mat pagli’. Tere naam glorified Salman Khan as a stalker and Raanjhanaa, starring Tamilian superstar Dhanush, made him the god of selfless love and passionate ends. To add to this, I was never the girl for whom guys beat each other up at tapris. The point being, like all thrill enthusiasts, these creatures strode with their adventures to all sources they could extract the thrill from. So, I think that would encompass most of the girls in my age +4 to 5 years or maybe more. My guess is they did it to to all without exception!
And this is what DOESN'T happen in the climax of these glorious, selfless, one-sided-so-called love based movies:
Well, after 2.5 years of fluctuating heartbeats, paths, schedules, I had rather tuned to this shit. And one fine evening, while I had it concluded, that these creatures just do what they do for fun, and while Hero Honda (now Hero Motorcorp) spread the word around ‘Why should boys have all the fun’, I decided to actually extract some from this for myself. PS: I calibrated this for 2.5 years before I did what I did. I just think it was the wrong day and the wrong guy to extract it from. What I “barely” did was, as this guy sweetly asked me for my name, I turned around and told him,
“Bro, my parents named me. Go home and ask them for a change if you are so curious”.
Well, he did take my for my word, and before I could reach back home called my dad, told him that I had been chasing and proposing him for many evenings and since he had always looked at me as a small sister, he couldn’t do it. He also comforted my dad saying that “Sir, I know that at the age your daughter is, such things happen. Hormonal changes. But I just wanted to keep you informed as a well-wisher”. What happened as I entered my home is too irrelevant in the context of this article. All I know is, my dad till date is thankful that my face is not half-burnt with acid, or I was not kidnapped and raped for the audacity I dared to exhibit that one evening.
Many years later while I had completely forgotten about the phase that had passed, my dad just casually mentioned in a conversation that this guy died in a horrendous bike accident aged 28 a few weeks back. I didn’t say anything. To be honest, I didn’t feel anything too. Maybe that’s the apathy that the “creature” in that guy pushed me to. I just wondered if it is rather true that humanity must prevail is the far-fetched vision, and humanity for humanity is our truth?
Anyway, narrations like these from girls like me extend from “barely” passing comments, winking, eve-teasing to kidnaps, murders, unspeakable rapes, acid attacks and worst of all find a small place in the “girl missing” columns of newspapers.
As narrators change, so do the stories. Some never survive to tell. The ones who do grow into strong women in a world with these shoddy creatures just around the turn. But the question I return to and fail to find the answer yet is “Do we really should have needed this strength? The one that we have involuntarily gained in this process.”
"Is it rather true that humanity must prevail is the far-fetched vision, and humanity for humanity is our truth? Do we really should have needed this strength? The one that we have involuntarily gained in this process"