I couldn't ever forget that night in my life.
It had been raining and I was feeling rather restless. The place I stay has quite a few parks nearby and we tend to go for a walk in there every now and then . That night, my friends were all too engrossed in a daily soap and since I couldn't make sense of it anyway, I decided to go for a stroll…on my own.
In retrospect, that is arguably (one of) the (most) foolish things I've done but I can be really impulsive. Out came the blue umbrella and I set about the ritual of walking 30 steps to and another 30 fro - that was pretty much the whole of the broad but short street that I live in. All the while talking to my dad, sis and *ahem* a friend one after another. By the time the conversations ended, I'd made about 4 rounds. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I seem to have noticed that a stranger passed by in a two wheeler. Twice. The little voice told me - 'What if…??' Another louder voice cackled with suppressed laughter and said - 'Haha, cmon, as if the world has no other work than following you around. Get a grip, will ya?'
After bidding goodbye to the said friend, I switched on the radio and was tapping my feet to some song even as I walked by the huge houses on both sides of the road. It was still drizzling and I liked the thuddish sound made by the raindrops on the umbrella. I lost count of the number of times I'd trodden on the same path.
At one instant, instinctively, all my senses became uber-alert and in the next micro-instant, somebody had grabbed by a**.
Blood rushed to my face and I turned to see that two wheeler guy leering at me. He said something in a language alien to me but I understood it to mean 'Will you come?' as he was repeatedly gesturing the pillion seat.
The next instant, I had pulled away from him towards my left. I realized that since that was a 'residential' area, everybody was well inside their cozy home and no one would have noticed what was happening at the entrance to their homes let alone the streets! There was a car between me and the place where the guy stood. Luckily, still on the two-wheeler. I ran - my home was hardly ten steps away from where I stood but that felt like the longest journey I've had to make. I knew he was following, although a few feet away, on parallel. I rushed into the safety of my home and looked out of the window - he had parked his vehicle a little away from my home and was still staring at me. With that look in his eyes. I hope you understand.
There are some things which can only be felt…it's hard to explain.
I leaped into my room, thankfully unnoticed by my friends in the hall. Locked it and stood still. Hot tears came streaming down my cheeks. I couldn't accept the fact that I'd just been mistaken for a prostitute.
I couldn't come out of my room for the rest of the night. The next day, try as I might, I felt really awkward…and since I couldn't tell the truth to anybody, my friends found my mood swings quite weird.
At ﬁrst, I couldn't understand it at all. I'd been dressed in a traditional chudidhar. I had even pinned my dupatta. How could he have mistaken me for a slut? Then, it hit me. This city is known for call girls dressed up in traditional salwar/sarees - I've seen them at times. And I had been roaming about all alone around 9:15pm…with a ﬂashy umbrella. No wonder!
On the roads, I felt NAKED. I couldn't stand the sight of a single man. Even ofﬁce felt burdensome. It took about a week for me to recover. And man, how have I changed! I don't loiter about late at nights. Else, I make sure I've someone to escort me back home - till the very entrance.