In the 48 hours before I wrote this column, my life underwent a sea change. Like I mentioned the last time, a sick person hacked into my email and went through thoughts so private I hadn’t even shared them with The Dude. About two days ago, those emails were sent to family, friends, colleagues and even some strangers. Imagine having people in the know snigger and say, “But what’s so personal in a sex columnist’s life? Everyone knows everything anyway.” But the thing is, everyone doesn’t know everything. Even in a relationship as public as mine and The Dude’s, there are plenty of moments, moments so close to your heart, sharing them with a third person would be criminally wrong. In the past 48 hours, I’ve seen my life become a public spectacle. It was a humiliating experience and left me feeling more vulnerable than I have ever felt before. The incident has redefined some of my most cherished relationships, and possibly caused irreparable damage to some already fragile ones.
I’ll never forget that Saturday evening. I was getting dressed for a party when the calls started. Incessant calls from an innocent person who got dragged into the ugly mess. Frantic calls from The Dude demanding to know what was going on. The Dude and I had been going through a rough patch and things were finally on the mend. We’d had a long chat, a great night of sex and I was determined to not let the friend-who-was-not-quite-just-a-friend get under my skin anymore. The few minutes before my hacker went crazy were beautiful. We were like kids. Random hugs, giggles and kisses. A little sexting and some inane teasing. I was about to send him a photo when I received his first angry call because random people from his life were receiving those emails. Now when I look at the photo I had been about to send, I see another person. A person who belongs to another, much happier time.
Over the next two days, my mind went through a systematic breakdown. Every relationship, every friendship came under the scanner. The trouble with not knowing your enemy is the collateral damage that the search for answers claims. Every low point of every relationship assumes mammoth proportions. For two days, I was suspicious of everyone. Then came the overwhelming feeling of self-loathing. Because I can’t imagine how I’d feel if the tables were turned and I was being doubted by the very people I had put in the defendant’s box. I’ve always believed that trust means very little if it isn’t implicit, but when your adversary is a nameless, faceless person out to destroy everything important to you, it takes superhuman effort to hang on to this textbook definition of faith. From somewhere, I mustered the last dregs of decency left in me and decided that the people I loved deserved better than my shameful thoughts.
In my defiance, I refused to get off Twitter, Facebook and my email and lie low, like many friends suggested. I was not going to let a coward, hiding behind the security the internet and superior technological knowhow provided, call the shots in my life. But the truth is, the person has won. He’s managed to crush my spirit. Ever since I realised the extent to which my internet security has been compromised, I’ve been scared. I’ve bought myself a new laptop because I can’t be sure the old one will ever be safe again. In a couple of days, we’ll get a new wi-fi connection. At work, we’ve had to reset the passwords for all our group-access accounts. I’ve disabled my BlackBerry because my heart skips a beat every time I hear the ping that indicates the arrival of a new email. A few hours ago, I started shivering when someone called on the landline for me. I don’t know how long this fear will last, this fear of someone watching my every move, of wondering if this person is now going to leave me alone or is just waiting till s/he can strike again.
Amid all this, I don’t know where my relationship with The Dude stands anymore. In the heat of the moment, we both said some very nasty things to each other. Can our relationship survive this incident? Neither of us knows. Right now, I only long for the simpler times. The days when I used to read his Twitter timeline 10 times a day and he used to call me his crazy stalker. Turns out, neither of us quite knew the meaning of ‘crazy stalker’ then.