COMING OF AGE – V

You did what??” shrieked Aditi. “Are you out of your mind, girl?” Aditi’s eyes were full of incredulous anger. She couldn’t fathom how her best friend who shared everything with her could go out on a blind date all alone that too 30 kilometres away from the city.  “Why didn’t you tell me? I could have come with you. Dumbo don’t you read the newspapers.. molestation, rape cases are like a dime a dozen these days in Delhi. Just the other day there was an eve teasing case in our colony. And you took the car. You don’t even know how to drive properly. What were you thinking girl……

Tanya closed her eyes. She could feel the beginning of a headache. Aditi was talking nonstop. Aditi was the closest she had to a best friend. She had this habit of speaking very fast and nonstop without waiting for an answer when she was angry or excited. And today Aditi seemed very upset.

Well I have given her a big enough reason to get upset” she thought.

Tanya closed her eyes and yesterday’s whole episode flashed in front of her eyes. Just the thought of Sameer made her feel physically ill. How her world of dreams had come crashing down around her.

Here I was thinking I would meet my prince charming or knight in shining armour and look voila whom did I meet the weird Sameer“.

Why oh God why did this happen to me only. Look at all the other girls having such classy boyfriends. And look at my luck, who fell for me? The peon of the college with paan-stained teeth… Eeek…

Are you even listening to me?” asked Aditi.

(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

This was the second time since yesterday that someone has asked me this question. This whole blind date episode is making me go mad“, thought Tanya.

I said sorry na baba, please stop scolding me you sound exactly like my mother. I know what I did was foolish. But what am I supposed to do with this now?“, Tanya showed her the letter.

Earlier this morning she had come to college very reluctantly. She had no intention to come face to face with Sameer again in her life. From the moment she got down from her father’s car in the parking lot she had this weird feeling that someone was watching her. As though Sameer was lurking around the corner keeping an eye on her. She thought that he must have spied on her every day since she started exchanging the letters with him probably even before that!

The thought sent shivers down her spine.

I will have to be extra careful.” She ensured she was always in a group of friends or classmates lest he sees her alone and tries to talk to her.

She could hardly concentrate on her classes. All the time there was a debate on in her mind. On one hand she thought bravely that the way she had slapped him and shown him that she was not interested in him, he won’t dare to contact her again.

On the other hand all sort of bad thoughts crossed her mind. What if plans to take revenge. Like all the villains in the Bollywood movies do.

God what do I do now!

Anyways by the time the day was coming to an end she had slowly regained her confidence. There was no sign of Sameer anywhere. Maybe she was making too much out of a small episode.

But after the last class when she looked around, all false bravado left her when she saw the dreaded white envelope on the last bench.  Before anyone could see it she picked it up and ran from the class.

She really needed to talk to someone now. This was getting too much to handle. That’s when she called Aditi and poured out yesterday’s events to her.

Even though Aditi was a good friend she had not told her about the white envelopes earlier. Like a fool she thought that talking about it would jinx it.

Coming back to the present, Aditi and Tanya were both looking at the letter.

Tear it, burn it.. Don’t read it” said Aditi.

Yes that’s what I will do.”  She tore it into small bits and threw it into the bin.  Image of the paan-stained smile of Sameer flashed through her mind. She shuddered and prayed that this was the last letter from him.

But this was not to be.

Every day without fail a white envelope would turn up on the last bench. And every day she and Aditi would tear it up unopened and throw it in the bin.

Will this ever end? Tanya thought. Maybe it’s high time she should do something about it.

A LETTER FROM A BROKEN FATHER

Radhika, a 25-years-old marketing professional recently shifted to Delhi as a part of her career decision. She convinced her parents about  her safety and took the big plunge. She was happy about her new project, new house, excited about life in new city.

Delhi – city famous for its mouth watering street food, high street fashion and zest for life also has a shoddy picture when it comes to the safety of women and that made Radhika a bit apprehensive.

But that it didn’t stop her from beginning her journey.  She used to take a bus daily to her workplace and back. On one such fine day she noticed a man (must be in his fifties or early sixties) in the bus staring at her constantly. She turned her glare the other way and ignored him. But not for long. She saw him again, again and again consecutively and every time she noticed him staring at her. It was getting on her nerves. “It’s so irritating, am I a piece of meat to be served as his eye candy? His age and acts have no correlation whatsoever!”, she despised him so much. As if it was not enough she found him following her. After repeatedly ignoring his acts she confronted him when she could take it no longer. “My silence is only strengthening him and I won’t let it happen”, she said to herself.

“What is your problem? Why can’t you mind your business? Why do you stare at me?  When I ignored your acts you have started following me? You must have thought that I am going to take it lying down and you can get away easily. Come on speak up now”, she roared. The man was taken aback and soon few people gathered and anger poured in demanding a legal course of action to be taken.

Radhika interrupted and said, “let him go considering his age. What if his family comes to know about his lowly acts, they will break down. Let him go with a warning”, and she turned to the old man and said, “I am letting you go now not because I fear you but I am worried about your family more than you. I am thinking what if you have a daughter of my age and she faces such harassment, think about it”, she blasted him and left from there and the gathering dispersed leaving the old man with a drawn face.

She thought it was over.

Next day morning she received a letter from the guard at the gate which read –

Dear Radhika,

Don’t be afraid thinking how I got to know your name. I overheard it when you thought I was following you.  But you only thought I was stalking you. My intention was never so. You asked how my family would feel if they come to know about my deeds.  But I wish I had one. The day I saw you, you reminded me of my family. You reminded me of my daughter! She is my family – whom I lost in an accident two years back. I was not following you as I stay in the same area in the building opposite to your society. But I can’t deny the fact that I stared at you as I was searching for my daughter in you. Wish I spoke to you earlier, but along with my daughter I lost my speech too in that dreadful accident! You don’t have to worry anymore about this old man stalking you as I am shifting to a new place. My best wishes are always with you, daughter!

A broken father.

Radhika was shameful about what she did. “How wrong I was in being judgmental – why I was so apprehensive”, she kept pondering over and over again.