10 PM by Bangalore weekend standards cannot be qualified as proper night, probably a late evening but not night. Even if it is, what’s the big deal about going out shopping provisions from the departmental store a few streets away from my residence, alright, even if I have to go alone and in my two-wheeler? The fact that I am carrying should not be an issue for ‘gentle careful’ ladies like me, would it? I might bump over a few pits on the road since the street lamps are not functioning but my baby would have got used to such bumps by now. I would whizz out and back in no time that my baby will hardly know. What’s this about safety concerns? When has Bangalore ever been safe for women, let alone pregnant women or when has it been safe for two-wheelers either? Life is all about risk-taking! Why is my hubby making all the fuss on the phone about a thing as simple as that? After all, I’m going out shopping to make a surprise yummy lunch tomorrow when he returns back from his friend’s place. Yes, that’s it…he’ll enter our house tomorrow noon, smell the aroma and realize how silly of him to have almost denied himself a treat by fussing over a bold daring lady like me into going out shopping at 10 PM.
There is it! See! Forty-five minutes and I am done with my purchases and riding back home. I am not scared about the fact that the local residents have tucked in for the day, deserting the dark alley nor am I scared of the street dogs that glare in my direction, deciding whether or not I’m worth giving a chase. I’m not scared of this strange fellow escorting me at a safe distance ever since I turned right from the main road. Men! Why was I born as attractive as I am? In spite of me being married and now pregnant with a slightly bulging belly, I’m never stopped from being pursued! Now what? He’ll follow me all the way to find my address and later pester me with anonymous phone calls? Give me a break! I’ve crossed teens a long time ago even if I do look so damn youthful.
Okie! Okie! Let me face it! On a new moon night as tonight, making out a silhouette is tough enough without having to fall head-over-heel about my fine-featured face. Who am I thinking I am? Ashwarya Rai’s younger sister? My vanity has flattered myself way too much. If I am, well, not so a beauty-queen, why is this fella following me? Is he someone I know? Is he my friend’s husband who I happened to stumble upon in the store? I must have missed something at the counter and the poor man is following me to return it. Should I stop and say hello?
Heyyyy…he just called me hey and I definitely don’t recognize his voice at all. If he knows me, why doesn’t he call me by name? Hey there it seems! Nah! He is someone else. He is after my purse and gold chain. Why did I don those fake stone earrings that glitter as bright as diamonds? Why did I don them at this hour of the night? 10PM! Where were my senses? I’m carrying my ATM debit card. What if he forces me to tell the PIN and makes a clean sweep of my account? He is still following me and if I ride any faster, I’ll hurt my baby. Oh no!
He seems to have accelerated, shortening the distance between us. Wait a min! What if he is not after just my money and jewelry? What if he is after me? He could be a gangster trying to kidnap me and hold me for a ransom? Or Heavens! For all I know, he could be a sadistic rapist! What am I going to do now? I don’t even carry a pepper-spray. I should have listened to my husband and waited till morning for the purchases. Who cares if we didn’t have an extra delicious lunch tomorrow? This is bad! This is really really bad!
I’m damned. He has just crossed me and parked his bike in front of mine, obstructing my way. I’m so damned! There is no escape in this dark alley. I’m sorry baby for making you go thru this as well. Hubby, I’ll miss you! Don’t cry over me forever. I’ll stay up above the world so high as your guardian angel and protect you from all evils.
“Hey there! Your duppatta is flying close to your Scooty wheels. Please tie it up before it gets caught and cause an accident.”
The stranger just said that, just that, gave me a disapproving look as if to mean “How the hell did this lady’s husband let her alone at this hour in her condition?” and sped off without voicing it.
“Oh yeah, right….thank you!” I called back in sweat and stammer and hurried home before I could get pursued again for real. Phew! That was so close!
At our dining table the next day, my husband relished the products of my culinary skills and also complimented me for being a brave lady. He says that as a father-to-become, he was a little over-protective of me and our baby but understands now that I know to manage myself. Well…I don’t think now is the moment to mention yesterday’s episode to him. No harm done and anyways what’s the big deal about it?