"I am Being Followed"-Chapter 12

I decided, after gathering some courage, to enter back into our office, where the editor and I used to sit and discuss; where my idealism used to clash with his sense of journalism. The last conversation is still haunting me deep in my heart, as I hear each word distinctly.

“You know what Sam, you are fresh out of college. That is why you can afford to think like this. Do you think the people really care with others’ feelings? We are all sadists, face it. The sooner you accept it, the easier it will be for you in this profession.”
“Fuck you man. How can you be so cruel? Even if they belong to the ghettoes or to the highest strata of society, they are all people. Civility, justice and moral journalism all demand that everyone be seen equal in their eyes; that they all are equally at the receiving end of the stick as much as they are the wielders of the same. Even if everyone becomes a sadist, I will be conscious enough not to be the same.”
“Cut the crap lady,” he spoke, as he squashed the cigarette that he had been sharing with me, for there was nothing left in it but a smouldering filter, “this so called attitude is all that is wrong with our profession. Who wants to read about poverty on the streets? No one! Who cares about substance abuse being rampant on the streets? No one! Who cares where this country is going to? Nobody! All they care about is the ridiculous shit that they called popular culture, the paparazzi and the shabby clothing. Our readers want to know who is divorcing whom rather than what the president said about healthcare. You do not like it, but that’s the unfortunate truth. Anything reported by us should not have any sense to it; who will pay our salaries in that case?”

And now, you were not there, which I realized only when I opened my mouth to counter your argument. You were not sitting there. It was only your memory that was stalking my mind. I walked out so as to be able to breathe, but even the smoke filled air of the city felt more like a poison to m soul, as I started walking back to my apartment. I had nothing else left to do; I had submitted my report to the junior editor, who was trying hard to put everything back to normal.
I was walking along the street amongst the milling crowds, as my mind began to wander along the route. What is this Stanley up to? What were his motives? Was he just another ruthless killer, out to take revenge for being stopped by a man who felt he lost against this guy? Why does nothing make sense? But does this society even try to understand what is going on? Look at these media channels, brazenly reporting their asses off, as if they are being great warriors of democracy. The first thing that should be banned should be the electronic media, for it is feeding so much crap to the masses who have become like dumbass couch potatoes thanks to their titillating coverage of basic facts.
Suddenly, I realized that somebody was following me. I turned around to see who it was, but in this anonymous crowd that is constantly moving around you, how can you see anyone? But how did I know that someone was following me, you might be tempted to ask. A woman’s instinct never lies, you see. It is our third eye, our sixth sense; what ever you may want to call it. But it is always awake, and when it senses danger, it warns us. If only more women listened to it.
I decided to walk over to the nearest telephone booth, and took out Maher’s number. While the number to his office rang, I kept looking around me nervously, feeling an invisible pair of eyes piercing through my body, scanning me to see what I was trying to do.
Finally, the phone was picked up.
“Maher here,” spoke up a gruff call.
I was relieved that he had picked up the phone. I started talking quickly.
“Sam here, Maher. I have no time to waste. I think he is following me.”
“Are you sure? Can you see him?” the voice sharpened on the other side.
“I cannot see him. How do I know if it is him? But trust me; I can feel him around me, as if he is staring at me continuously.”
“I’ll be there, but tell me where you are first.”
I told him the exact location, and heard his instructions to not wander far away, but to keep the crowds in between, so that he does not manage to reach you directly. I quietly agreed and put down the receiver. I stepped out of the receiver, and suddenly noticed a man in a cap and wearing a jacket standing at a distance. It had to be him; it could not be anyone else. My heart began to beat loudly, but I fought hard with myself not to allow this fear to creep up on it. I walked towards the public space, the cafeteria that was there, and sat down. A waitress walked up to me.
“Can I help you ma’am?” she asked politely.
“A latte please,” I ordered, which she noted down, and walked away, while I began to search for him around me.
Yes, he was there, maintaining the same distance that he had till now. He too was approached by the waitress, and she walked away soon, and he resumed his examination of me and my body, as if he knew every part of it better than me. I could not look at his face; it was far for me to notice anything. But the gaze; I could feel its steeliness pierce through my soul. What did I get myself into?
Suddenly Maher turned up. He was standing in front of me. His very presence was so reassuring to me, as a wave of relief swept my mind. He sensed my fear, and so talked to me.
“Is it him over there?”
“Lets go then.”
Saying this, he began to walk towards Stanley, who sensed trouble, and began to walk away from his table. “Hey,” shouted Maher, as he began to run towards Stanley, and Stanley dashed away, leaving a large number of confused people behind. In this chase sequence, I joined in behind Maher. They ran across the street, and dashed across the various alleys, when suddenly he disappeared, leaving behind two panting figures.
“Did you get a good look of his face?” he asked me.
I replied in the negative, forcing him to clench his fists in frustration. Just then, a man walked up to us and began talking to Maher.
“Hello detective. Do you remember me? I work in the forensic lab.”
Maher shook hands with him. They began to talk, as he enquired about her health.
“So, how is she now? Any better?”
“She’s recovering right now. We are keeping every development secret. Its most important.”
“Where is she now? We wanted to meet her you see…”
“Sorry, can’t tell that to anyone.”
“Sad. I do not know how anybody could poison her with thallium so easily. Gotta go now, am getting late. See you soon detective,” saying which, he walked away.
He turned back towards me, and said, “Nothing to worry now.”
“What about after this? What shall happen to me?”
“Find a safe location for yourself, and lie low till everything sorts out.”
Saying so, he began to walk away.


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