Friday, April 03, 2009

A late night confrontation

At about eleven last night, I turned off my computer and was preparing to go to bed so as to wake up early today. A taxi stopped by infront of my house and people got out. They were shouting loudly. Of about 6 or 7 people, there was a woman too, and when I peeked outside from the window, I recognised one of them as the one from the house right behind mine.

I have had a row with him more than once, usually when he caused disturbance when drunk at night.

I would have waited for 5-10 minutes for them to go to their places and ignored what was taking place completely. But then a male voice started getting louder every instant. I could clearly hear the coversation he was having with a girl on his cellphone, but handsfree and turned full volume. I live on the first floor and the rest of my family on the second. But the voices were so loud that anybody in the upper floors could hear that even with windows closed. I waited and waited, but the guy just went on chatting. It was the kind of chat you would not want your family to hear.

Well, I couldn't take it any longer and decided to deal with it myself, but as discreetly as possible, without gaining attention of my family, who otherwise would make appearances (something I would never allow) on the scene. So I went downstairs and turned on all the lights on the front face of my house. They are bright enough to make the neighbourhood day like. I thought for a while that the guy would become conscious that he's caught somebody's attention and would either quiten or leave the place. But I was wrong. He sounded as if he was enjoying the light and kept on. Finally, I took the door on the front end of the corridor, and then the main gate and went out. I saw that he was standing right under my window and didn't even seem to nice me when I stood right next to him. Other guys could be heard somewhere down the other street, but out of sight. I wasn't sure if they were his friends.

Anyway, I waited, but he just looked and ignored. I then tried to interrupt by asking, 'Hey, it's too late now. Go find some other place.' He ignored. I said again, 'Listen to me, you need to leave now.' He nodded slightly but gave no attention and kept doing his thing. I took him by his hand and said, 'Leave my premises, please, and right now!" To this, he simply freed his hand and again ignored me. I couldn't control myself anymore and held him with two hands and pushed with full force, literally throwing him on the road.

As soon as he landed on the road, he said something on the phone, stopped chatting and then looked back at me and immediately shouted to call his friends, who turned out to be the very guys hiding in the adjoining street. One came to him and asked what happened. He said, "Who's that guy who just threw me away? I'm gonna see him right now!' His newly arrived friend looked at me with a question on his face. I said to him, "Why look at me like that? Can't you see what time is it? Is this the way to behave? I tried to convince your friend, but he wouldn't simply listen. So I had to get him off my place myself. Is there a problem?"

The friend said to me, "Okay, sorry. It's alright", and then to him, "Hey, let's leave right now, let's go with the other guys. Let's get started, it's about time, come on." When he kept threatening me, his friend dragged him to the other street and finally out of my sight. I was relieved temporarily, but was not sure they wouldn't come back in a bigger number. I locked the gates, kept the lights on and went upstairs to my room.

It turned out that my mother, sister and my housemaid had all seen it happening from the balcony. I went upstairs and was trying to convince them not to worry and cool down. Then suddenly my suspicion came true. They came back and shouted from below. There were at least 6 of them and were so loud and abusive that made a few windows open on the houses in front, but only to be closed by the indifferent residents. Getting help from the neighbourhood was out of question.

I told my family to keep quiet, while the noise below just grew bigger. They even kicked at our gates, hit a stray dog in anger and then hit again at our gate with a brick. Apparently, they were seriously after me. So I had to dial 100 and call the Police Control Room for help. I briefly explained that we were under a serious threat, gave them our street address and block number and request for an immediate help and upon being assured, hung up. I grew restless as the guys below became more and more aggressive. So I had to call the control room again to explain the whole thing and then pleaded for a squad to be sent immediately.

Within 5 minutes the squad arrived in a pick-up van and stopped. But by that time, the guys had moved to the dark street and only their voices could be heard. When the officers got out of their vehicle and approached our house, I went downstairs, identified myself as the caller and explained everything. I also told them that I would recognise the two guys I had seen, though not the rest. They searched the neighbourhood for about half an hour and came back to say they had escaped. I told the officers that this was not a new thing and happened every night and requested them to make some serious investigations so that we could feel secure at home. They assured me that they would keep on track with the intruders and left.

Like every residential area, mine has neighbours too, hundreds of them. The houses are so closely built that the problem I'm describing affects them equally, if not more. However, not a single neighbour tried to even show that they had noticed the whole thing, let alone coming forward as a witness, not yesterday, not ever before. Are they so sure that this would never happen to them or they would require help in the future? I don't have an answer. But living like that is just not my style.

It was not a new scene in the neighbourhood and has been reccurring every night for at least 4-5 years, the only difference being the number of taxis and persons. My neighbours cared to share one bit of information, though. They say that those people coming every night and disturbing the calm of the night are usually the so-called dancers, waiters and bouncers from some 'dance bars' in the city.

As for me, this wasn't the first time that I attempted to intervene either by asking the people to stop making noise or by secretly calling the police. But it was only yesterday that I had gone for a physical. According to my sister, if only a few of my neighbours had shouted, "Hey, what's going on there and why are you making so much loud? We need to sleep!" or said something like that without even leaving their rooms, the intruders would have hardly dared to make such a fuss. We would have readily helped our neighours at such times or some other need. Otherwise, why does one need neighbours at all? What will our kids learn from us and what kind of people will they grow up to be?

Naturally, my mother is worried that they would follow me down for a revenge, while I also can't ignore that or similar possiblities. But that's the price we have to pay it seems, for taking our stand against the wrong. We've decided to take every possible caution and watch each other's back.

We remain thankful to the prompt and helpful officers who came to our rescue last night. We hope that in the future, people can actually rely on the police for the kind of security and other services they are supposed to provide.

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