Chapter 1

Jan 2016,
Bengaluru

It was a dark abandoned street and none but street lights filled the way. Dressed in Chudidhar, a girl was walking with a handbag. Her loose hair bounced in every step she took and sweat rolled down the soft cheeks. Eyes restless and with a panicking breath her hand trembled its way to the handbag. She turned her gaze behind.

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About twenty feet behind, was a hooded figure. From the physique it was evident that it was a guy. He could see the girl looking back at him. He was dressed in black and his hands were stuffed in his jacket. He could sense fear has engulfed her.

Her trembling hands finally found her mobile. She turned away her gaze from the hooded figure and looked at her call logs.

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The room was pitch dark and silent, let alone the rusted fan’s squealing sound which was an usual happening. The silence in the room was interrupted suddenly by a call. A guy half awake by the call struggled to pick it up. After five full rings, his hand managed to touch the mobile and two more rings for him to find who was calling in the middle of that night. The mobile screen kept flashing,
Riya Calling

“Hello” he said on picking up the call.

There was an utter silence. He could hear the sound of her footsteps.

“Hello Riya.. You there?” he said again.

“Sanjay…” said Riya and there came a pause. He could only hear her panting.

He sensed something is not right. He turned on the light and walked out of his room. He was on third floor corridor and beneath him was nothing, but an empty street except for few street dogs busy watching over the streets.

“Riya, what happened? Where are you?”

“I’m going back from work; to my PG. Someone is following me. I’m scared.”

“Where are you now, exactly?”

“I’m walking in 2nd street now!”

“Okay. Don’t worry. Take left near the Bakery. I’ll meet you there”.

He knew he was just a street away and could reach her in no time. He immediately put on his T shirt and shorts and walked down from his room and started walking on the 1st street towards the bakery.

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Riya couldn’t stop herself from looking behind to check if the stranger was gone, but he wasn’t. She could see the hooded figure still following her. She took the left turn which Sanjay asked her to. From distance, she could see a guy in Tees and shorts walking towards her. Soon she realized it was Sanjay and calmed herself.

On reaching him she turned her gaze behind and pointed her hand saying “That guy is….following me” her voice trailed off as she couldn’t see anyone behind her.

“Where? Who? There’s no one here!”

“He was just behind me. I saw him.”

“Okay. Come let’s go now. I’ll drop you at your PG.” He could see that she was totally scared. Then he asked her “By the way…, who was that?”

“I don’t know! He followed me from the bus stop!” she told him and held his hand. He could see her terrified and he didn’t want to talk about that at this late hour.

“It is alright now! I’m here.” He then walked with her till she reached her PG.

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Riya, a pretty girl of medium height, slim figure, radiant skin, silky smooth hair and exceptionally intelligent, was able to bag offer letters from three IT companies in her college campus interview. Among the three companies she chose the one which had its branch in Bangalore hoping that she will be posted there. As she expected she was posted as Software Engineering Associate in Bangalore at Eco Space, Bellandur. Another fact that made her happy was that her close friend, Sanjay from the same Engineering College as her, got his offer letter from the same IT firm and was also posted in the same office but in a different day shift project.

Sanjay was not very tall, but taller than Riya and had a good looking face. He was smart enough to win Riya’s heart as a good friend whom she could trust. Weekend evenings were the only time they met as they were in different shifts. Since both of them loved ice creams, they always met at The Creamy Zone near the Marathahalli Bridge. It was a small ice cream shop which serves one of the tastiest ice creams of good quality at a reasonable price which attracted more crowd. Once they get their ice cream, they would go for a small walk with the ice cream talking all the bull shit that happened over that week and all the crazy ideas that they had planned to do next. As close friends, they had a nice time together in Bangalore away from home. In their life, everything were just in place until…

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 The next day was a week off for Riya and Sanjay and they were at their usual meeting spot, The Creamy Zone. They got their ice creams and started walking. She told him that the previous night was not the first time the stalking had happened.

“I was being followed Sanjay. Not by just one, but by many” said Riya.

Not by just one, but by many! Sanjay was puzzled with her words.

Riya continued, “Those people, whoever they are, started following me three nights back. That is from when I started working on evening shifts”.

Riya could see that Sanjay was not getting what she just told him. She then explained him in detail whatever had happened in the last few nights.

Night 1: She had seen a guy following her from her office campus till the bus stop outside her office. He was a thin guy of medium height with a winter cap. But she didn’t care about him as he was no longer following her once she got into the bus. She thought he might be someone from her office admiring her beauty.

Night 2: A different guy kept on staring at her in the bus. She couldn’t get his appearance as he was seated behind near the back door. She saw him only when she turned back to get ticket from the conductor. His face was not clearly visible as he had it covered with his hood. He got down at the same bus stop as her. When she saw him getting down from the bus, she was little frightened. But he was soon gone once she entered the 2nd street road.

Night 3: This time, it was a tall guy with well built body who started following her from 2nd street. On realising that she was being followed again by somebody her heart beat raised by two folds. He followed her till she reached her PG. On reaching her room, she checked out of her window if he was still there, but he was gone already. But the fear that engulfed her wasn’t gone. She was sweating unceasingly at 2:30 am on a pleasant cold night in Bangalore. It was not at all a pleasant night for her.

Night 4: This was the previous night when a hooded guy followed her from the bus stop and vanished all of a sudden once Sanjay came into the picture.

From the way Riya explained things, Sanjay knew that she was not fooling around and he could see that she was totally scared. He convinced her that she didn’t have to worry about anything and all those might be just a coincidence. But Riya perceived that Sanjay felt disturbed and was very worried about her. She knew that Sanjay was trying to make her feel better. So, she changed the topic and starting bitching about her colleagues, her Team Lead and other girls who were prettier than her. Prettier, which obviously was the reason. And Sanjay too joined in with her defending those pretty girls.

The evening passed….

They had dinner at Shanmugha Restaurant famous for its spicy Hyderabadi Briyani. After their dinner, Sanjay walked with Riya till her PG and went back to his.

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A gang of hooded figures was chasing Riya. Riya was crying deep down from her throat for help. Sanjay was running towards her. One among the hooded figures took a knife in his hand. Sanjay kept screaming at him to keep away from her. The hooded figure looked at him for a second and vanished into thin air. He looked around and all the hooded figures were gone. Riya was not running anymore. She was on the floor. Tears rolled down from her eyes. He reached to her and suddenly there came a loud noise.

It was his mobile alarm and he woke up finding himself drenched in his sweat.

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In the noon, Sanjay called Riya.

“Hi Sanjay. What’s up?”

“I’ll come with you from tomorrow night.”

“What?”

“Call me once you are done with your office work and I’ll accompany you from office till your PG”

Sanjay wanted Riya to be safe. He didn’t want her to be hurt in any means.

“But your shift ends at 7 PM. What will do till 2 AM?”

“I’ve talked with my TL and asked for a change in my shift timing for one week. So, it will be 12 PM to 9 PM. So I’ll just have to kill 5 more hours which watching a movie would make it easy.”

When it came to Riya, Sanjay didn’t care anything about him but her well being. Sanjay kept his words and accompanied her the following nights from their office till her PG. A week had passed with Sanjay accompanying her every night and there were absolutely nobody following them. Riya felt relieved on realizing that those night stalking were purely coincidental and there was nothing to worry about.

That weekend, Riya told him that she was fine now and he didn’t have to accompany her thereafter. She knew Sanjay was lacking proper sleep in accompanying her late nights and since it was clear that no one was stalking her, she was determined to convince him not to wait for her, sacrificing his sleep. He was hard to convince however she managed to make him say Okay.

Even though Sanjay was still worried he felt Riya had a point and moreover she was not scared anymore. Her courage gave him the hope that she would be alright. He then had a call with his Team Lead and made sure he was in the morning shift from Monday.

Lesser did he knew that Riya was going to face the worse. So did Riya herself!

to be continued…
Click here for Chapter 2

 

© Navin Rajagopal
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