I remember the first comment. It said, “You’re a pity party, a predictable loser,” and I thought it was spam until more arrived. “Piece of shit!” “You think your writing is fantastic? Ha!” All from email addresses with my name, followed by something obscene. I had a stalker, and I didn’t understand why because I’m an obscure writer from India who spends his time romanticising his depression on a blog with a hundred followers.
I was angry and wanted to lash out, but I restrained myself and only warned my readers that there was someone out there trying to break me. Soon, I received a couple of threatening emails, which featured the use of the word ‘scum’ rather intensely. I was terrified and wanted to shut this person down, but they didn’t stop. The last comment called me a porn-addicted, masturbatory writer. That jolted me! I mean, how did they know?
I craved for pity and took to Facebook. I wrote a thesis long, status message about the stalker and the five likes I got helped me get through the day. I deleted my blog. It was only after that that I realised there were benefits to having a hater.
First, stalkers bring out the Luddite in you. These days we spend our lives creating online avatars and riding a carousel of artificiality. But a stalker makes you shun technology, read paperbacks and listen to music on a CD player. Pretty soon, you discover you don’t even use the phone. Someone who is antithetical to a messiah has liberated you from shortening your attention span by staring at text messages all day. A black-robed prophet of hate has freed you from watching nonsensical YouTube videos while you sip on your stale coffee. You want to go out more even if it’s around your apartment complex with your mask on.
Stalkers make you think deeper. You no longer limit your thinking to the last episode of ‘Stranger Things,’ and start pondering on the connections you make with people and how they perceive you. Perhaps you’ve been ostentatious all your life, and only now see the lopsided, smug grin in the mirror for what it is. Maybe the guy who shook your hand last week saw through your facade and always wanted to knock your incisors out. So, while you’re introspecting, you develop the emotional intelligence you lacked. You think about how all humans are connected, and how the threads we spin, catch another and either form a beautiful web or a chaotic mess. You suddenly reach the apogee of your metaphysical reasoning.
Stalkers make you enjoy quarantine when everyone is talking about cabin fever. You’re glad that your hater isn’t stupid enough to defy international travel or the local lockdown (depending on where they are) to beat the bejesus out of you. Yes, they’re brave enough to use an anonymous email client and a VPN, but there’s no way they are daring enough to risk dying to get to you. That very thought fills you with ebullience, and you feel like some celestial hand holds you. You enjoy confined spaces. You look at the sheen of dust that envelops your piano and the guilt of not playing the instrument no longer haunts you. You enjoy the smell of stale food, the body odour emanating from your pores, and the stench of your farts. You look in the mirror at your bearded, unwashed face and love the new look. You don’t even brush your teeth, and there is some weird beauty in those now yellowed chiclets. Stalkers tell you the truth. They say what you need to hear. All your life, you’ve justified mooching off your parents and living a porn-addicted life. And when confronted by your loved ones, you’ve bellowed and screamed. But a stalker drills actuality into your head. You realise you have sown rotten seeds in your life, as they said, and Karma is waiting with a scythe in his hand.
You understand that it’s time to stop wasting your energy writing seedy poetry on a blog, and it’s time to send your work to publishers. Hell, you could be the next Bukowski! And even if you’re not, at least you’re not clamouring for a like or a comment reeking of flattery. You’re a person on a mission now, ready to roar like a lion despite the rejection letters hurled your way.
Finally, stalkers force you to stop watching porn. You’re so scared of the internet that you refuse to even switch your computer on. You’d rather play scrabble or learn how to play bridge than turn to obscene images or graphic videos of cuckolds. You get healthy erections again and can look at women without objectifying them. You’ve changed. You clean the house or make chicken tikka masala with a horrified look on your face whenever the urge sets in. Whoever said love and not fear conquers was wrong. You know you’re getting a partner soon, or you’re at least going to find yourself in the more hopeful sections of the friend zone. You see a significant change headed your way, and who knew that some creep calling you ‘a piece of shit,’ on the internet would align your chakras, or place your stars where they’re supposed to be, or bring the universe to you, or whatever.