Friday, May 31, 2013

Close Encounters of the Newark Kind - 2

The first thing people say when I start this second story is, "What? It happened to you a second time?" Then I have to pause my narration and explain that it happened not two but three times. I almost feel like "The Chosen One."

Anyway, this was my birthday, so I remember the date this time as well. October 15, 2009. I was walking home from the station after an evening class around 9:30. The weather was unusually cold for that time of the year, the mercury hovering just around freezing. Coupled with light rain and strong winds, it had driven everyone out of the streets. I was walking home by a road I assumed to be safer than the one where the previous incident had occurred. I had my backpack with my laptop, my small digital camera and a few gifts that my friends had given me. I had an umbrella, but since the cold was numbing my fingers, I was walking with my hands in my pockets and the umbrella resting in the crook of my neck. But I had to be ever alert because the wind was threatening to blow the umbrella away and my hands were ready to spring into action in case such a thing happened. In other words, I was concentrating on my umbrella and not on my surroundings - a mistake that could prove very dangerous here in Newark.

Suddenly, I felt my umbrella move. There was something in that movement that was different from the swaying in the wind, and since I was already alert and nervous about my umbrella flying away, I reflexively pulled my hands out of my pockets, grabbed the umbrella handle, and in one continuous movement, turned round on the spot and came face-to-face with a man.

Actually face-to-face is an exaggeration; face-to-chest would be closer to the truth. He was a huge black man, at least six feet tall and proportionately wide. He had crept up behind me and was trying to grab me from the back, but my backpack and umbrella were in the way. The sudden movement in my umbrella which had caused me to turn was the result of this attempt. "Don' say nothin'," he growled in a low voice as I confronted him.

This is the point in my narrative where, however much I may try, I cannot maintain the serious tone and break into a smile, if not a chuckle. My listeners usually follow suit as well, for what happened next was, when you look at it from the future, somewhat comical.

Now if someone had walked up to me with a gun or a knife and demanded my belongings, I would probably oblige, because that is the best course of action when you think about it. However, I did not get time to think about it, and the first thing that I did without thinking when I saw the man on top of me saying "Don' say nothin'" was to hit him repeatedly with the open umbrella and cry out for help.

The man was either drunk, or tired, or probably both. He was utterly taken aback at this onslaught and stood frozen. My umbrella, on the other hand, turned inside out, broke at the tip of the handle, and fell down on the sidewalk. By that time, I had moved away some ten-fifteen feet away from the man, and was still shouting. He stood rooted to the spot for a moment, then swore at me and turned away. As I saw him hurrying away into the darkness, I half expected him to return but he never did.

After a few seconds, I went back to the spot, picked up my umbrella and the broken plastic hooked handle piece, and walked home. I was badly shaken, but unharmed. The umbrella was completely unharmed too and is still being used after just a handle replacement.

This time, Mahendra Dutta & Sons of Kolkata had saved the day.


  1. hahahahaha...sorry khubi bhoyer golpo, kintu na hese parchhi na. Mahendrababur jobab nei kintu, ki bolen.

  2. :P

    Interesting narrative. Coming to think of it. quite scary, but funny in a way too! I don't believe you still use that umbrella! :)