The strange feeling that you are being watched. Always.
As a reporter, who was always on the move, Natasha started her day at 6 with a quick run at the Lodhi Gardens. The endorphins helped her clear her head and the solitary run helped her plan the rest of her day, which usually centred around the Central Secretariat.
She would return home by 7, read up the papers, because you have to know what competition is up to, and leave for office by 9.
Last few months, however, things have been little uneasy for her. She felt like she was being watched. She confided her fear to her childhood friend, Nupur, who dismissed it as Natasha’s overactive imagination. She also suggested her work related stress may be taking a toll on her.
Which could be true. Last few months have been very hectic, especially with political mayhem that has gripped the country.
Except, strange occurrences had started taking place. She received a bunch of flowers, pink and white carnations, at her office, with no name. There was no note attached to it either. The flowers were on her desk by the time she reached office, and were received by the old man on the reception desk who didn’t bother asking any details.
“Oh, you have a secret admirer,” Nupur teased when Natasha told her about the flowers. “Send me a picture. Did you like them? ;-)” she asked. “No, I am throwing them in the dustbin. Hope this stupidity stops,” Natasha replied.
Two days later, when she came back from her run mercilessly chopped pink and white carnations were left outside her house.
“Who could it be?” Nupur asked. They were window shopping at Khan Market while taking an extended lunch break.
“It could be Aditya. Since I have blocked him everywhere, he may be trying to get back to me this way,” Natasha said. Aditya was her ex-boyfriend. She broke up with him six months back. Nupur and Aditya could not stand each other and hated each other to the core. Nupur was elated at the breakup. “He is not the right person for you,” she would always say. Aditya, on the other hand, would always tell Natasha that Nupur is the crazy one. “There is something very off about her. I could not place my finger,” he would say.
But Aditya would not stoop down to the level of stalking, Natasha thought.
“If only there was a way to know who this person is,” Natasha said as she walked towards the metro. “I’m going to take the rest of the day off,” she said.
Over next few weeks, things got worse. Things she had casually mentioned at work place, among acquaintances, friends, started happening. Like, she had tweeted a picture of a beautiful stole she saw at the Dilli Haat, and a week later, it was delivered to her place. Anonymously.
“It is not me,” said Aditya, after Natasha confronted him at last. “I swear it is not me.”
“Natasha, be careful, though. This person sounds dangerous. Talk to the cops, maybe,” he said.
“It is not Aditya. He is suggesting I go to the cops,” Natasha told Nupur.
“As if cops would do anything,” Nupur said furiously. “Did you meet him again?” she asked.
“Yes, but don’t worry, I am over him. We did not rekindle our relationship. I left before he could bring it up,”
“He still has a thing for you, no?”
“I don’t know. He is a great guy. I don’t know,” Natasha said, her voice trailing off.
Except, things were about to turn dangerous. Two days after her meeting with Aditya, he was found dead. As per preliminary reports, he slipped on wet floor and fell and broke his head. Natasha could not believe what she heard. She has seen the spark between them return and it seemed both may be ready to move past their differences to restart the relationship. A part of her died that day. Aditya is never coming back.
Even as she was mourning Aditya’s death, she got a package. “Hauz Khas Metro station. 8:00 pm. December 22. Come alone. Do not call on the cops. I’ll be there near the last compartment on the line towards HUDA City Centre.” It had Aditya’s watch in it.
She panicked. This is a threat. But she also saw that the metro station at 8 pm is a crowded place. There is no way anyone could harm her.
On Tuesday, Natasha reached the metro station by 7:30. She was afraid, but a sudden wave of strength had taken over. She was carrying a pepper spray and taser gun to tackle the stalker, just in case the need arises.
At 8:15, the second metro had come and left the station. At the same moment, she saw someone walking towards her. She froze in her tracks. It was Nupur.
“Nupur?” said a shocked Natasha. “What is going on?”
“Natasha, I hated the fact that I had to share you with Aditya. I hated him from the core. Have you not seen how much I love you? I could not bear to be away from you,” Nupur said.
Natasha could not believe what she heard.
“I killed him,” Nupur said. “He would not back off. I told him to stay away. He threatened me he would tell you about me and put me in an asylum. I killed him,”
This is a nightmare. This could not be happening, Natasha thought. The fourth metro was about to pull in to the station. Natasha decided she will leave. She could not take this any longer. She started to get up and walk towards platform.
“I am sorry, Natasha,” she heard Nupur say.
Nupur was standing right behind her.
Natasha tried to back off a little just as the metro was approaching the platform. Natasha has never been this terrified all her life. Nupur was her childhood friend. They had grown up together. Had their first crush on the same hot senior from 9th standard and had a silly pact that both of them would forget him and move past. They discovered smoking weed together and Nupur was there by her side when she got crazy drunk and threw up after her 21st birthday party.
And the Nupur in front of her is a completely different person. Nupur felt like a threat to her life today. Natasha was about to raise an alarm.
Just then the metro pulled in an within fraction of second it was over.
Nupur had decided to jump on the tracks of incoming metro and end her life.