Shruti, a twenty one year old, living in a nested cottage town in the foothills of darjeeling, was always an introvert and did not like talking much to people, she was shy and emotional, and she always saw the best in people.
One day while going home from college, a notification popped up on her screen. “New follow request” by harshal_18 it said and had a display picture of a dog. Naive shruti did not think about it much and accepted the requested, little did she know it was the biggest mistake of her life.
After reaching home, tired and hungry, she ate her favorite meal that her mother had cooked for her while watching an episode of the crown. She stretched her legs and proceeded to drown into her slumber after having a hearty meal. The sound of a notification woke her up, it was from harshal and it said “I don’t know why but I feel like you and I will go a long way.”
She was in a dilemma whether to respond, but nevertheless, she did.
They talked for two hours straight, mostly with harshal asking her questions about herself. By the end of the conversation, harshal knew most likes and Dislikes of shruti but shruti being an introvert was not much of a talker and just responded to whatever being asked; favorite food, where she lives, about her family, and her routine.
The next day in college shruti found an envelope in her bag, “open alone” it said. Her hands began shaking at this, she proceeded to open it and found pictures of her in her room inside it. She trembled with fear and felt sick, her friends asked her what happened but she couldn’t gather the courage to answer. She rushed back home, breathless, only to find a text from harshal, “did you like the pictures I sent you?”. Shruti got paranoid, she asked harsh how he had them and where he lived, to which harshal replied “someday I will be confident enough to meet you then you will know”. Shruti got a gut feeling that something wasn’t right and blocked him.
She went on with her routine but felt something wasn’t right. She checked her phone and saw that she had a text message from an unknown number with an attached file, she opened it to see that it was her video taking a shower. She had a panic attack, her mom came rushing listening to her scream and held her. Shruti fainted in the arms of her mother.
37 hours later, she woke up. Unable to place herself, her mother came and held her. The mother explained what had happened and that now she was in a hospital. Shruti grew paranoid again she began to tell her mother everything, but her mother said, I already know what happened don’t worry I read your chats and have complained to the police. She pulled shruti into a tight embrace which steadied shruti’s heartbeat.
The police authorities found a camera in her room and reported it to the cybercrime department. Her network was protected and the possibility of an online threat was removed. It took time for shruti to recover from this incident, but eventually with the help of her friends and family, she did recover but not completely.
Three years later, she was working in a tech company as a marketing manager, she had quite a boring routine. She only met with her friends on weekends, besides that, she stayed alone. She was unable to talk to men after the incident that took three years ago. Her friends finally convinced her to go on a blind date.
She wore a yellow summery dress with her hair tied in a bun, and went to the cute cafe around the corner. Her date was wearing a printed shirt and jeans, she thought to herself “he looks quite good”.
Shruti went and sat across him, she said, “hi I’m Shruti nice to meet you, and you are?”. He replied “names are just formalities, aren’t they shruti, tdll me things that actually interesting, what inspires you, what gets you out of bed every morning?”. Shruti smiled to herself, and for the first time in three years, she opened up to a man.
After a long date, her date said “I don’t know why but I feel like you and I will go a long way.” Shruti’s face turned pale at the familiarity of those words. He proceeded to say “and by the way, I’m Harshal”.