No one expects to be stalked in their own home. But this is what happened to an East London law student.
‘Good morning! Look I brought your food in to you. You don’t even need to get out of bed.’
Sounds like a Valentine’s Day treat? Unfortunately for me it was nothing like that. The person bringing me breakfast in bed was my housemate. A 30-something man who was paying me far too much attention.
Coming from a conservative Bengali family I was only used to socialising with family members and close friends that I had grown up with. I moved to London at the age of 21 to do my law degree. I had moved houses many times and had adapted to living with strangers, but still I wasn’t prepared for the affections of this man.
I moved in with a family in Forest Gate – two parents and two grown up sons, with two spare rooms to rent. I took one and later on this man moved in. We got along okay to start off with. Just a quick ‘hello, how are you?’ if we passed each other in the passage – not even waiting for a reply.
Then as the weeks passed by I noticed that the sons had started whispering with the housemate as I walked by. They would laugh and make comments under their breath. I could hear them say: ‘Go on. Just say it. Go tell her’.
One day he stopped me outside my bedroom and announced: ‘I love you Sam. You’re so pretty. Please be my girlfriend.’
‘Excuse me,’ I replied. ‘I’m not interested in your nonsense. Please stay away.’
It was Ramadan when he first came into my bedroom with food at 3am. I was so scared, I jumped out of bed and told him to get out. I was afraid of calling my landlords for help, since in our culture the girl always gets blamed. I knew they would assume that I had invited him in. There wasn’t even a lock on the door.
He made it into a daily habit. He would walk into my room whenever he felt like it. The kitchen was so small. Only big enough for one. When I would cook he would be sure to come in. He would do whatever he could to ‘accidentally’ touch me. So many times I had to go and wait in the garden, not daring to come in until he left.
When we would open the fast with the family he would recite poetry to me, making quite a scene in front of the landlords while they laughed about it. ‘What a romantic I am,’ he kept saying. Later he would be waiting for me to come out of the shower, standing in the hallway, saying: ‘Oh what beauty. So natural. You’re lovely.’
Sick and tired of being humiliated by him every day I decided to move out. I found a new home not too far away from my work place. As soon as he found out that I had left he began phoning me and messaging constantly. I would block his number and he would get a new one. When that didn’t work he turned up outside my work and then followed me to my new home.
Luckily my brother was now living with me and I didn’t feel so scared. Still the man knocked on my door and asked my brother if any rooms were available. ‘I can’t stay where I am at right now. They don’t treat me good. It’s no way for a man to live. Please, I’ll pay whatever price,’ he insisted.
I explained the entire story to my brother and he promised to keep an eye out on my behalf.
For two months it was all quiet. I didn’t see him again and he stopped messaging me. Then one day at half-past-seven in the evening he turned up again. For two hours he pressed the bell.
‘What do you want?’ I shouted from the upstairs window.
‘Please let me in. I’m so cold, it’s freezing out here.’
‘I don’t care! Freeze if you like, I want nothing to do with you.’
One by one all my housemates came home from work and still he was there. Shouting on the street, ‘Sam, I’ll kill myself. I love you. I came for you.’
‘What must the neighbours think of me now?’, I thought. I was so worried they would accuse me of causing trouble, yet I couldn’t make him go away. Finally I came downstairs and he stood there looking so smug. ‘I knew you would come, Sam.’
‘Shut up,’ I said, ‘I didn’t come for you. Go away from my house. Why are you causing a scene?’
‘I’ll cut my wrists if you don’t talk to me,’ came the reply.
I gave up, closed my door and went inside. Sick of his drama I called the police. It was now midnight and he managed to leave just before they arrived. The officers took his phone number and told me to call their number immediately if he ever turned up again.
I haven’t heard from him since. I guess the police must have scared him into finally leaving me alone.
Sam (not her real name) was talking to Alina Choudhry, Rising East’s Women’s Editor.