It is believed that this sort of victimisation and targeting is quite common, and yet there are extremely few first hand accounts from the perspective of the victim – therefore this article is an important one, and we thank the author for being brave enough to share this.
About to start University, I was really excited. This would be a fresh start with new friends and a new beginning. During the first term I was nervous to talk to people, but this would be the only way I could make friends, so I made an effort to be friendly. I joined some societies such as the NHSF (National Hindu Students Forum).
All the people I met seemed so helpful and friendly. I assumed that this was because they were in the same situation as me, as new students on campus.
After lectures one Friday an Asian guy approached me. I didn’t think anything of it apart from “He’s just being friendly”. His name was Wasif. We got chatting; he seemed like a nice guy. Even though he was a year older, he was in the first year, because he was re-sitting the year. Wasif gave me his number soon after meeting him and not thinking much of it I also gave him mine. We met up for Lunch on a few occasions; always chatting about usual things like how University was going and whether we’ve been out anywhere good. So yes we got on really well. But there was nothing more to it. Just like with my other friends, we used to text each other and spoke on the phone once in a while.
On the whole I had a good first semester. Before I knew it, it was the Christmas holidays. Doesn’t time fly! It only felt like I moved to University not long ago and was already on my first vacation. With exams on their way in January, the stress started to pile! University actually started to feel real now. Everyone went home for the Christmas holidays, with loads of revision to do and deadlines to meet.
Wasif carried on texting me in the holidays. It was just general stuff; “How you doing?” “What you been up to?” “How’s revision going?” And so on. So I just replied generally. Soon after that we started speaking more on the phone. Before I knew it he began to call all the time. After a while I started feeling really uncomfortable, because some questions he was asking started becoming a bit personal. I started ignoring some of his calls. It felt as if he wanted to know everything I did. It was really strange. Holidays were nearly over and I was getting a little worried. “Oh my god how do I avoid him during lectures,” I thought to myself. It wasn’t that I didn’t want him as a friend, but just didn’t want him calling me every minute.
University started. The first couple of days were spent settling back in. I didn’t see Wasif around much, but then a week or two later suddenly he started texting me to meet up for lunch with him. I sometimes made excuses like “I’ve got loads of work on”, but I couldn’t do this forever. When I bumped into him, he would always pester me to come for a drink with him, even though I didn’t drink alcohol. Sometimes I said I couldn’t make it, but once in a while I got roped into going along. I’m sure he must have known there was something different with me.
Soon it was March, with my birthday approaching! A few weeks earlier, he asked me what I wanted. I was shocked, because I didn’t know him that well that he should get me a present. I just told him “I don’t want anything…don’t be silly.” This ended up in a big discussion, and he said he wanted to talk to me over a drink I just said “Yeh”, thinking to myself that a quick chat wouldn’t hurt.
We met up in the evening at about 6ish and started chatting. He was complimenting me on what I was wearing but it was only jeans and a normal top, which is what I usually wear at Uni. The evening flew by and it was nearly 10pm; I couldn’t believe how a ‘quick’ chat turned into something that took a few hours! I told him its time I went back to my flat. Just as I was leaving he said “Hey Nats can I ask you a question”, I just replied with “Yep sure,” thinking in my mind, “What’s wrong, what is this leading to”. I was nervous. It felt like he took ages to ask, but that was probably because of me being so worried. He finally said “Nat’s I really like you as a friend, we get on really well,” and stopped there. I knew there was something strange going on with all the calls and text messages. I said “Yeh I know were good mates”, he then stopped me and said “But can we not be more.” I was so shocked. Even though I knew it was coming, I still wasn’t prepared. I didn’t know what to say, so just said, “Hey I better get going it’s getting late.” He told me to call him later in the night.
All my way home I was thinking, “Oh my god, what do I say, what do I do, what am I meant to call him about”. Just as I reached home, my phone started ringing. I was thinking, “It’s not even been half an hour since I left and he’s already calling me”. I didn’t answer the phone. After an hour or so passed. I kept getting calls and messages from him saying “Nats why are you ignoring me?” I did feel bad not giving him a straight answer. I knew it was going to be a definite “NO”, but wasn’t sure how to let him off lightly. I text him and said “Wasif I’m really sorry but I can’t, you’re a good mate, but just a mate, sorry”. A few days went by, and he kept calling and texting me. Then he asked me what were my reasons for not wanting to be with him. Even though I was frightened I told him the truth. The fact was he was of a different religion. I didn’t want to have a relationship with someone from a different religion. That’s the way I am. On top of that, my parents and family would be very hurt and disappointed; I couldn’t do that for a guy I barely know. Wasif wasn’t happy with this, but I was not one to be swayed.
A few months went by, he was still contacting me loads and sometimes the way he spoke to me was as if he thought we were more then friends. I felt really uncomfortable around him, and didn’t want to be round him alone ever. I didn’t think my first year of Uni would stress me out so much! But things were soon to get worse, much worse.
By Natasha Jalota
(Note: the picture is not off the author)