This story isn’t exactly one about stalking. But it borders very close to the issue of women’s safety in public spaces and how easy it is for people to try and intimidate women when they know they’re in a slightly unfamiliar space.
This incident took place about a year ago. I live in Bangalore, and was at the time living in a pretty posh locality of the city. Of all the cities I’ve lived in, I see that Bangalore’s two-wheeler situation is pretty bad. People riding bikes and scooters think they can come up from anywhere and get away with it. So I usually voice my agitation over this, especially when two-wheelers get on footpaths and pavements meant for pedestrians to walk on. This incident too involved a similar premise.
I was walking back home when a middle-aged man in a scooter began honking at me. I was walking on a footpath and he was the one violating the law, not me. Anyhow, he zoomed past me, and I stopped him. I told him it’s wrong and that he cannot be on the wrong side of the law, and expect fairness. He argued with me for a while, citing that there was too much traffic and that he needed to take a shortcut, etc. Long story short, this went on for a while after which he glared at me and left.
I was on a call with a friend and I was still walking towards my home when I saw the same man pull over again, next to me. This time, he told me that I should not have messed with him as it was his area and I’m not anyone to put him in his place. In a very threatening tone, he asked me, “Do you know who I am?”
I expected him to be a political goon, but his response had me stumped. He took out a revolver from his jacket pocket, showed it to me, said that’s who he was and rode off. I froze at the time, and honestly did not know what to do. Everything happened so fast that I barely had time to react. I remember standing there for a long time, because I did not want the man to find out where I lived. That kind of fear is real. I was not safe in a public space just because I had objected to a wrongdoer.
For many days after that, I was scared that I’ll see him again. I did see him after a week, and he saw me too. He looked triumphant and I cowed down because of course, I don’t have a gun as my power shield! This kind of fear is also a form of harassment and needless to say, left me in a daze for a long time.
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