• Paakhi M

See you around, Nipun.

"Okay, hear me out, man. I think I'm being stalked," Nipun says lowly into his phone's receiver, his eyes wide at what he just confessed to his friend. Before he could even imagine getting a serious reaction from him, a laugh echoes through the speaker.


"Yeah, man, sure. You're getting stalked, and I am in Mauritius right now! Spoiler alert, though, we both know I don't have the money to go there," he says, whispering like it was the greatest secret.


"Whatever, Aryan, I'm hanging up," Nipun replies, slamming the phone onto the table in front of him as anger took over his senses. He couldn't believe it. For the last two weeks, he saw the same woman near him. At the bus station. At college. At the cafés he went to. In front of his home, even. Whenever he tried telling someone about it, they flung it on his face like it was the funniest joke in the world.


Nipun's thoughts are interrupted by the sharp ringing on his phone, the screen showing an unrecognisable number. He picked up the call with no hesitation.



"Hello, who is this?" he asked, the sudden silence making his stomach churn. "Hello?" he asked again, drawing out the closing vowel.


"Hi, Nipun," a female voice drawled from the other end, making his heart jump to his throat.


What if it's the same woman who has been following him around?

"Wh-who is this?" he asked in a shaky voice, his toxic masculinity taunting him for being scared of a woman.


Man up, Nipun.


"Look around...I think you have seen me quite a few times," she replies, a light chuckle accompanying her words.


"Look, lady, I am not interested in this. Please. Stop following me around. I won't register a police complaint if you do," he replies confidently, his words sharp and threatening.


But, his confidence fades into oblivion when he hears a boisterous laugh from the speaker.


"Police, Nipun? Seriously?! The police won't do anything for you, hon. What will you say to them, huh? That a woman has been stalking you?!" she asks rhetorically, laughing again. "On the very, very off chance that they do believe you, what will you do then? File a complaint? A complaint against stalking? Nipun, in case you don't know your constitution as well as I thought you did, there is no law against men being stalked."


An abrupt silence thrusts Nipun into fear.


No law?


Just because I am a man, I won't be protected against stalking?


I won't be protected from harassment?


"I d-don't believe you," he says quietly, his own words contradicting his beliefs. Deep down, he knew that living in his country, his gender would play to his disadvantage in the courtroom. He knew that if he said that a woman was harassing him, he would become the butt of every joke. Even if he did sacrifice his dignity and decided to file a complaint, there is no law to protect him. His own country-- his motherland won't protect him.


"You don't have to believe me, Nipun. On the other hand though, you don't look pretty with those tears in your eyes," she pauses, making his hands shoot up and, shockingly, feel tears on his cheeks. He looks around, trying to find her peeping at him like the harasser she was.


"Where are you?" he asks with unknown confidence, his eyes wandering around to spot his culprit.


"You don't need to find me...but, I'll always be there for you. See you around, Nipun."




Writer's Note:


There is no law against men being stalked in India.

None.

Yes, you can file a PIL, but that is subject to levels and levels of inspection, and each time someone knows that a man is being stalked, and by a woman no less, the victim is laughed upon and joked about.

But, why?


According to the Section 354 D of the Indian constitution;


(1) Any man who--

(i) follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or

(ii) monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication, commits the offence of stalking:


...is subject to punishment. Should the law be so gender specific, that stalking only applies to be illegal when a man stalks a woman?


Should any law be gender specific, for that matter?


Let us know in the comments.

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