(As told to Vineeta Asthana)
She joined our office that summer. A 27-year-old hyperactive and very talkative girl. In the very first week, she told me almost everything about her past and present. Also, she shared her plans for the future. She’d often give me a friendly hug and I didn’t mind it, since she was like any other female colleague. She was also a selfie freak and would often click them with me. She never failed to compliment me, and I took it in my stride, as someone trying to be nice to a senior; I’m almost 10 years older than her.
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She told me she felt something
One day, there was an event in office and I was wearing a saree. It was raining that day and I was drenched, running here and there to supervise the event. She came to me a couple of times, blushed, and went away. She was dramatic when it came to expressing. Finally, she walked up to me and said, “You intimidate me, whenever you wear a saree.” I smiled and asked why she thought so. She responded that she feels like ‘loving me every time she sees me in saree, especially when it rains. That she is unable to control her emotions’. Those words pierced right through me.
I thought it was too much even as jokes go, but I stayed calm. I’d have thought she was joking, but her expressions and words gave me goose bumps. I kept pretending that I was taking it lightly. She repeated it with a straight face after she saw me smiling and not taking her seriously. She told me that one night after getting drunk at an all-girls party, she ended up smooching one of her friends. She’d thought it was just the effect of alcohol, but after meeting me she believed that she was bisexual. I looked at her eyes, so intense. I pushed her away gently and told her to focus on her work.
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She made me uncomfortable
Every time she held my hand or hugged me after that incident, I did not feel as comfortable as I had earlier. She elaborated her fantasies in conversation a few more times and I became cautious, realising that she was in earnest. I told her I was straight, and not interested, but she refused to understand and kept pursuing me. I am a liberal person with many homosexual friends so it wasn’t her gender that bothered me. It was the fact that she wouldn’t take no for an answer. It was creepy and annoying. I respected her orientation, but I didn’t appreciate my refusal not being respected.
She started creating problems at work after I strictly refused to entertain any of her fantasies. I’d call it sexual harassment, equally disturbing as any by a man asking for sexual favours. I moved my desk to a different block and cut myself off from her totally, blocked her from my public social media profiles as well. I didn’t wear a saree for almost 10 months after that incident. After a few months she got married and moved to another company. Her husband has settled abroad, but she did not move with him, I know she is still around and watching. It’s been a couple of years, but the memory of that persistent pursing still gives me the chills.