I am a writer. I write commercial fiction. Till a month ago, I led a very normal, mostly anonymous life. I used to spend hours in a parallel universe where I played the role of the creator. But nothing remains the same now.
When I landed in Bangalore last month, my husband was waiting for me along with a jeep full of policemen, who he said, was there for my protection.
A single tweet had turned my whole world upside down. One of my readers had posted the snapshot of a page from my latest book, where my heroine, a journalist, talked about the skeletons in the closet of a film star.
“I think I know who this is. Isn’t this about actor S?” the reader had tweeted and then tagged actor S. The tweet had gone viral. Unluckily for me, there had been a scandal concerning the star similar to what I had described in the passage. In my defence, I was not even aware of the scandal when I wrote the book. I had thought that I had made it up.
To compound the worries, Mr S had just entered politics and was projected by his party as the next chief ministerial candidate. His political enemies used it to defame him. His fans and party people began a hate campaign on my twitter timeline. I wasn’t very active on Twitter or on any social media. Once in a month is my habit. When the fans of Mr S were demanding my blood, I was busy finishing my new novel at my ancestral home in the hills completely isolated from the digital world.
“Surely Mr S would be busy with movies and politics. Would he care about such trivia?” I had asked my husband.
“Care? That idiot tweeted that this is a vitriolic attack by his enemies. And that you are a part of it. Our phone hasn’t stopped ringing since and mostly they are threats.”
When we reached our house, there was a huge crowd waiting. Journalists shouted questions and microphones were shoved at me when I got out of the car. The police created a human wall around me and I scampered towards the safety of my house. Just as I was about to enter the house, something hit me hard on my right shoulder. A rotten egg.
Later, to understand what was happening, I opened my laptop. My inbox was filled with hate mail. I opened one and found the picture of an acid attack victim. The text on it read, ‘This is your fate if you dare to pick your pen again.’
My twitter feed was equally vile and obnoxious. Threats amounting to rape, acid attack, and death floated towards me from cyberspace. Fear paralyzed me.
I decided to seek refuge in my writing and sat down at my table. I took my pen and opened a new page. A strange fear overwhelmed me and my mind went blank. I felt nauseated and closed the book. After taking a few deep breaths and drinking a glass of water, I tried again. My hands trembled.
I called my agent, who is also a very good friend, to talk about it. She was nonchalant.
“Hey, don’t worry. It is working in your favour. All is well. Negative publicity is also publicity. Your books are selling like hot cakes. And guess what, I got an offer for your new book. The signing amount is going to be in six digits. So chill,” she said. She then went on describing how she and her team were going to use it for my benefit.
“Just stay at home and finish your book. The commissioner of police has assured that you will be given round the clock protection.”I had put the phone down then with relief.
A month has passed, my fear still remains strong. I have not written a single word. What is this fear? Does it have a name? How can I cure myself? Can you help me?
P.S: This story was written for Anita's Attic Graduation ceremony. You can see me read it HERE