I started writing this blog back in July 2016 right after the gruesome murder of Swathi, a young girl of 24, by her stalker in Chennai. Rejecting his advances multiple times and choosing to not be with a guy she didn’t want to be with – that was the simple, yet fatal reason that ended her dreams and her life. Somehow I just couldn’t bring out my words as effortlessly as I normally do back then and I left it for the time being.

Since then I have read of countless crimes of the same kind – murder, acid attack, physical assault – all done by a guy who couldn’t take “No” for an answer, the latest being the news of a 19-year-old girl who was stabbed and burnt to death by her stalker in Kerala only a few days ago. Numerous articles have already been written about how movies have time and again glorified stalking as “true love” and engraved the message “If she says no, keep pursuing her until she says yes” in the minds of impressionable viewers. Kidnapping the girl, keeping her captive, slapping her, harming himself to emotionally blackmail her are all portrayed as noble means to achieve the end-result called “happily-ever-after”. And in our country where actors are worshipped as Gods and movies are considered a guideline to live life, I am not surprised by how many men think it is their birthright to hear “Yes” from any woman they are interested in.

There are a couple of other factors though that has remained untouched mostly while analysing the stalker sagas.

1) People (friends, acquaintance, just about anyone) who encourage stalking for the fun of it.

I really don’t think this category of people even thinks through their cheerleading, encouraging the guy to “Go get the girl”. I can tell for sure because although it didn’t turn extremely bad, there was a guy stalking me from my MBA days. He was a very weird and eccentric character, the butt of everyone’s jokes and all in all, a puny guy who everyone picked on. I was pretty much the only person and I’m sure the first girl who ever said a normal “Hi” to him and he decided that he was in love with me. Ignoring him was impossible as he was at my heels all the time. But I kept trying to do exactly that until I just couldn’t take him any longer and he was stepping up his attempts by texting me all the time. So one day I finally told him that I was sick of his drama and if he kept sending me unsolicited messages I would report him to the police. I then saw a different face of the normally coy person. He looked me dead in the eyes and told me without flinching, “You call the police. I will keep calling and messaging you.”

Although I hate to admit it, the way he said it sent a chill down my spine. I remember a couple of girls standing nearby joking about how he might end up like Dhanush in the Tamil movie ‘Kaadhal Kondein’. I actually had a fear for a while that he might turn up at my wedding someday and stab the groom. I’ve tried to scare Hari with that too after we got engaged.

Now while that guy might or might not have been a borderline psychopath, whatever slight nudge he needed to cross that line was given to him by a number of guys in my batch; among them were some of my friends too. I understand that they thought they were pulling a prank on me or being funny at that guy’s expense. All of them kept telling him that he just had to try real hard and I would definitely say yes. One of my friends even gave him a stupid-ass idea of offering me a biscuit and taking it as a yes if I took the biscuit! And he actually went ahead and did it!! Can you imagine??? All through the two years of college, this guy, being the fool he was, kept believing whatever these guys said and trying to woo me.

He didn’t stop there. He kept trying to get my new phone number and address from several batchmates of mine. Thankfully he didn’t get my address. He did send me emails and chat messages once in a while about how he had changed his surname to Nambiar (as if that was the one thing I needed to decide that he was ‘The One’) and how he wanted to stay in touch. I ignored all of that. The frequency of his attempts to contact me came down slowly. But he never really stopped. I got a call from him a couple of days after Hari and I got married and I even got an email from him 7 months ago, conveying his best wishes to his ‘friend’ Hari and also attaching a photo of mine that he got from my blog page, I suppose, to tell me that he was keeping an eye on me. I keep ignoring him since a response of any kind is not wise with such people and one email and phone call over a course of more than 6 years is nothing I can report as stalking. But there is always a slight uneasiness in my mind when I read of all the stalker crimes because they remind me of him. (I wonder if this post is a good idea.)

What is sad is that it might not have gotten that far if it wasn’t for the ‘funny’ guys from our batch who failed to think of the consequences of their words. So if any of you reading this is guilty of being ‘cheerleaders’ for stalking, please stop now. It is not funny. Worse yet, it can turn dangerous and even fatal for someone else.

2) People who support the crime because ‘the girls deserved it’.

You won’t believe the number of comments I have seen under these news pieces, all hailing the stalker as a hero for teaching the girl, every girl in fact, a lesson. They openly say how the girl deserved what she got for committing the crime of rejecting the proposal from a guy ‘who loved her more than life’. The message is very clear – “If a guy tells you he is in love with you, don’t you dare say no.” And if there is even the slightest suggestion that the girl was in a relationship with a guy and broke up with him, then these idiots applaud twice as hard – “Because how dare she suck the juice out of the poor guy and leave him? Totally justifies what he did!” Listen, if this is a guy who feels that the best reaction to a girl rejecting his proposal or breaking up with him is to kill her, then no wonder she decided to not be with this psychopath with criminal tendencies. And see? He proved her right!

What these cheerleaders of stalking need to understand clearly is that by encouraging such acts, for fun or otherwise, you guys play an equal role in the horrendous crime. It was as much your crime as it was the stalker’s. So please shove your misplaced sense of humour or passion up your rear and let women be. No one deserves to die for not reciprocating love. That’s how simple it is.