Hi there! I am Shobha, 27 years old, working with a popular MNC in a busy city. I live with my parents and have a nice, warm group of friends here. Basically it is a regular happy life that one cannot complain about. But today I will narrate to you a rather strange episode out of my ordinary days.
It was a Friday and I was heading off to a coffee shop to catch up with a couple of friends after work. I remember myself walking along a broad lane towards the pick-up point for my Uber cab. I had barely managed to click and upload an impulsive selfie when it happened. A young man came out of the house in front of me and urged me to get inside immediately.
I tried to walk away but a few more men looked out from other apartments along the street, telling me to not be on the streets. Some begged, some instructed.
I walked back towards the first man.
“What’s going on here?” I asked. In reply he pulled me inside his home by my arm and shut the door behind me.
Then he turned around and told me to hide myself somewhere inside his house. I was offended to the core and though I tried to look brave, I was a tad scared too.
“Why would I hide? Who are…”
He almost shoved me down on his couch and switched on the television for me. Then he ran around closing the drapes of all the windows in sight.
I would have gotten up and slapped the crazy idiot at this point had the piercing voice of the news reporter not diverted my attention.
“Violent mobs capturing women and brutalizing them with no mercy. The attacks are happening all over the country but the root cause of such mass assault is yet to be ascertained.”
The man came back, almost panting now and sat down beside me.
“Don’t worry. You’re safe here. Unknown hordes of barbarians are abducting women all around. The government has ordered all law abiding citizens to shelter any female whom they might spot outside.”
I was silenced by this revelation for a long moment. And in that moment I observed him. He was fat, pale-skinned and had small eyes behind nerdy glasses. I wondered if I had seen him earlier when I noticed that he was looking at me too.
Feeling awkward, I tried to mutter some words of thanks when I heard a huge uproar outside. He ran towards a window and peeped out through a tiny crease. Sounds of running goons and profanities came floating in.
I sat inside the house of an absolute stranger, stuck in an emergency, with no clue regarding my next step.
The man was back again with two cups of coffee and assured me of indefinite protection.
I accepted the coffee but what I wanted was a conversation with my parents. My phone was lost and he suggested that it had probably fallen off from my hands when he brought me inside.
“Shall I go out to look for it?” he offered.
“Oh no…can you please lend me your phone?”
“Erm…it’d be risky. The phone lines are intercepted now,” he scratched his head apologetically.
I do not remember the rest of the time well. Somewhere during the night he had given me dinner and coaxed me to eat while I ranted about my family. At night he gave a comfy bed to sleep in.
The man was being really kind but the regular news feed from his television was pushing me into depression. I just felt a hazy sense of loss and disorientation as the hours idly passed by inside the stranger’s house.
Two days were gone this way and I was sitting on a huge bed while he was trying to cheer me up with some lame jokes when the whole house started to shake. There were sounds of firing coming from all directions and male voices demanded the doors to be opened immediately.
He quickly helped me to get into a closet.
“Stay calm,” he said and shut the door.
I heard the doors outside crash followed by sounds of loud footsteps. The barbarians were inside. And they started to hit my protector mercilessly asking for me. Soon he would cave in and give me up, I thought. And I started to sob in resignation.
Just then I heard the gruff voice of Vinod. Oh by the way, Vinod is my fiancé. He looks nice, seems warm and friendly, and has a good career. So when my parents selected him as my groom I said yes as I could not find any fault with him. Yes, I did not love him. But I thought I would wait for love to happen between us after marriage. Sorry about not introducing him earlier.
Anyway, his voice stirred something within me and I started to scream and kick on the door of the closet. The door was opened and I leaped ahead to find myself fainting in Vinod’s arms.
I woke up in my bed surrounded by my parents and Vinod. Their collective smiles made me feel good instantly.
I found out from them that the stranger was my stalker who had staged an elaborate plot to trap me in his home. He had given me food and drinks laced with sleep inducing drugs to ensure my compliance to his terms. The man was currently under police custody, being examined by a team of psychiatrists. It was my last Facebook picture, taken in front of the perpetrator’s house which had helped Vinod to trace me.
As I looked into his deep brown eyes, I knew my wait was over. I fell in love with Vinod.