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A pesky caller kept calling me up at all odd hours, destroying my peace of mind. A result of the entitlement men have who think they can get away with it?
The phone rang again. Wide awake, I squirmed, fidgeted, pulled the blanket tighter around me. I knew it was him.
He had first called up one night, a few months ago. My husband was away to Thrissur for some official work. India didn’t have mobiles phones in every hand back then, so I jumped out of bed to take the call when the landline phone rang up at midnight, assuming it to be a late night call from my busy-bee husband.
“Who are you?” the male voice at the other end asked. Disappointed that the caller was not the husband, I snapped at the man, “Who do you want to talk with?”
“You!” he whispered huskily. Not sure if I had heard right, I repeated my question a little impatiently. “I want to talk with you only”, came a louder but cheeky answer. “What nonsense!” I shouted at the prankster and banged the phone down.
The phone rang again.
It started happening again and again. I would be bathing my son, getting my daughter ready for school, cooking, snoozing… the phone would ring at any time of the day or night. I would rush, pick up the receiver and he would coo in my ear very sweetly, “how are you today?”
Initially I ignored him. But when the frequency of calls increased, I decided to tell my husband about it. He chided me for not informing him earlier, then told me not to take any call for a few days. But that was not a practical solution. I needed to be in touch with the children’s school, friends, parents, relatives.
When the phone rang one night, the husband picked up the phone and blasted the caller without even waiting for a hello.
He didn’t call for a few days. Then the infuriating calls resumed.
We thought of complaining to the telephone department but in those days it was not technologically advanced enough to trace fake calls so easily. Besides, why would the officials go the extra mile for ordinary mortals like us?
I screamed at him a few times to stop pestering me but the calls continued unabated. Then I realized that he enjoyed my discomfiture and rage, so I would put down the phone the moment I heard his voice, or even his silence.
The frequency of calls decreased gradually. He didn’t call for an entire month. Perhaps he had found another sweet voice to harass.
I was relieved assuming it to be the end of his pesky calls.
December 1. 10 AM. The phone rang.
“Ma’am, you know today is World AIDS Day, we are conducting a survey on behalf of the WHO. Can I ask you a few questions?” a polite voice asked.
Being a socially aware and responsible citizen, I considered it my duty to contribute to such an important social cause. I told the caller to go ahead.
Routine questions about the disease were asked and answered. Then he asked me if I knew what caused the spread of AIDS. “Through body fluids, common needles, blood transfusions, multiple partners etc,” I replied.
“Multiple partners? Can you specify this, ma’am?” a familiar cheeky voice cooed in my ears through the phone receiver.
As if stung, I dropped the phone.
“Hello, are you there?” the voice continued to crackle through the receiver dangling down the table.
With trembling hands, I put the receiver back on the cradle and ran to my bedroom.
Later that evening, as I discussed with my husband the increasing audacity of the caller, we realized that he had become bolder only because we had not taken any action to reign him in. What if he had been harassing other women too! He needed to be found out and if needed, convicted too.
Determined to chase out the stalker from his rat hole, we decided to complain to the telephone department and ask them to trace him before he could cause more damage to our peace of mind. We drafted an application to the concerned authorities but before we could submit it we came to know that the telephone department was planning to expand and upgrade its services and telephone numbers would be changed soon.
Oh, this was sheer good fortune!
We just needed to bide our time patiently. He did call a couple of times in the intervening time but I would always put down the phone without reacting.
A few weeks later our phone number was changed and the stalker perhaps didn’t have the temerity to find out the new number. His calls stopped altogether after that, thankfully.
Good riddance! Finally we breathed a sigh of relief.
But I still wonder sometimes how many more hapless women had become the victim of his crank calls and stalking. And if he was caught, at all.
Image source: shutterstock
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