Read Part 1 here.
They tell you that Rule #1 of being followed is to never lead them to where you live. They never tell you how difficult that rule is to follow in practice.
I was late, and by 10:30pm when I started making my way home, I had already gotten a good 5 or 6 calls from my roommates (also known as the old people I live with, also known as the parental unit) asking me where I was.
I noticed him maybe a third of the way down Nile Street. He was driving a large SUV with halogen beams, which made it extremely painful to look in the rear view mirror. His driving was erratic, speeding and coming to a screeching halt, swerving from one lane to the other, flashing his lights. At first, I thought he was in a hurry and signalling me to move out of the way, but every time I switched lanes to give his wide load room, he’d just flash his beams and then swerve to come back behind me. I was on the phone (through the car Bluetooth – I’m a safe driver), so I didn’t really catch on until he flashed his beams and half-blinded me, then honked. I turned my head to the right to see what the problem was, and came (sort of) face to face with a man in his late forties with jet black hair and his tongue hanging out of his mouth.
I rolled my eyes and turned back around, sure that the snub would get rid of him. It didn’t (surprise). Fifteen minutes later, he was still driving erratically, still flashing his beams, and by now (about 5 minutes away from my house) I was beginning to get nervous. Yes, all this time, I had just chalked it up to coincidence. Yes, I’m dumb.
I indicated (while being followed), made a right onto a main street and watched the SUV disappear in my rear view mirror. Thank G– oh wait, he’s back, and speeding to lessen the distance between our two cars. Much in the same way my last stalker had done, this dude also backed up in the middle of a one-way street to change course (is it in their handbook?). My friend (who’s still on the phone with me) said, “Don’t go home. Drive anywhere else, just don’t go home”. Where would I go? In this part of the city, at this hour, there are no crowds. No well-lit areas. Nothing. I remembered the two old people waiting for me.
I decided that I’d rather run the risk of a creep knowing where I live and possibly dying than being later and definitely dying at the hands of my parents (and if you have Sudanese/East African/Black parents, you will understand this). I indicated, loudly exclaimed, “Seriously?!”, and made a left into the beginning of the darkness that led to my neighborhood. A stroke of inspiration hit me – the police station! There are cops at the end of this street! They’ll help me!
Skinny jeans, a three quarter sleeved top, no headscarf.
I slowed to a gentle roll as I passed the front gates of the police station, while the stranger in the SUV continued to obnoxiously flash his lights. I looked to my right in a desperate attempt to make omg-please-help-me eye contact with one of the guards, but the lights behind me were so bright I couldn’t even see if there were any guards to begin with. I suddenly remembered an old movie my father had once told me about; the entire film was just a man driving on a highway being followed and menaced by a massive truck, and all he could see in the rear view mirror were the truck’s headlights – “It was so terrifying!”. With that thought, I drove on, in full panic mode, and entered The Maze (also known as Elmogran, also known as my neighborhood).
Elmogran is a criminal’s Shangri La. It’s a secluded area with thick bushes, large canopies, and almost no lighting – basically, a prime location to leisurely and safely rape somebody and then dispose of them. And if I had learned anything from my previous experience, it’s that the 3 seconds of eye contact I made with my stalker 20 minutes ago meant that I was game for whatever he was following me to do. He must have thought, “This girl is taking me to a quiet spot where we can take our time”.
I stepped on the gas, and flew through the narrow streets of my neighborhood, coming to a panicked halt in front of my house. I waited for the dust to settle, and looked in the rear view mirror. I saw the SUV stop at the end of the street, expecting, and two men standing in front of the house across from us look at him, then in my direction, perplexed. I hopped out of the car and when I turned around, the SUV was gone. I ran over to the two men, “Did you see a big car at the end of the street?” One of them answered, “Yes, it waited for a few seconds and left. Someone you know?”
At this point, my father (armed with geriatric panic and parental super-sense) opened the door and ran out into the street, yelling. The next what-felt-like-an-eternity was spent calming him down and convincing him to go back in the house, that everything was okay, that the men I was speaking to weren’t a threat. Finally, I forcefully whispered, “Dad, a man followed me home from Nile Street. Those two men were just helping me”. Silence.
I locked the door as my father sat on the couch, bewildered. “Why would a stranger follow you home?”
Good question, Dad.