My hypothetical musings.

sunrise from my window in Washington DC

I’m not a paranoid person in general. Instead of questioning sketchy situations, I usually just trot along oblivious to dangers that could be lurking. (My Dad is probably in a panic mode after reading this statement). My parents taught me to stay away from strangers, not to lurk in dark alleys, to be vigilant, and all that other good stuff. I have of course taken their advice, but along the way, I’ve always sorta believed that people in general are trustworthy and that someone up there has got my back.

Some stupid things that I’ve done include hitchhiking with a strange Hispanic man after missing the bus to class in Chapel Hill. I could have wound up dead or worse while trying to earn my 5% in class participation grade. There have been a couple of other hitchhiking incidents that I’ll skip. Another more recent example includes the train ride from Munich to Amsterdam. Due to confusing descriptions, Angel and I wound up with an overnight reservation in a closed cabin with two extremely sketchy men who smelled of alcohol and smoke. Angel, being the normal and cautious one, refused to even put her bags down and walked right out. I on the other hand, had already started to make myself comfortable. I didn’t see the point in spending more money to get a “safer” compartment. This is safe enough I said!! Long story short, I coughed up 10 euros for a different compartment. Angel didn’t give in and I am glad.
I’ve also been less than smart about choosing running trails. I’ve run late at night (alone). I’ve run in parks that are infamous for druggies. I’ve even gotten lost on completely wooded, lonely, and scary trails, miles and miles away from civilization.
(Dad, are you okay? I don’t do this anymore, I promise).

So, while I haven’t been fearful of sketchy men in foreign lands, of wooded running trails, or of Hispanic men and their trucks, I am fearful of my hypothetical creations. Let me explain. My imagination is always hard at work trying to impose what I see on Forensic Files with real life situations that are otherwise completely SAFE. In other words, instead of just letting me be late to class, or just turning me around and finding a safer route, my imagination makes me paranoid about things like staying home.

When my roommate Komal, is off on her out-of-town-weekend carousing, I am alone with her cat Lilah. I live in a very very very very safe area. It’s a high security building and our apartment is on the 11th floor. There aren’t any peeping toms, or crazy lunatics outside the window or down the hall. I can sleep with our door open technically!! BUT, I always have this weird fear that someone is going to sneak in. In addition to locking the main door, I lock my bedroom door, usually put a chair or my laundry basket in front of it to buy me some time in case the person was to break through the first two barriers; I also have a cop style flash light by my bed that I can use as a bludgeoning tool, along with a pocket knife stashed in my night stand (try not to wake me when I’m sleeping…haha). Okay fine, I’ve only done this once but that’s because I don’t want to appear insane. But I have thought about doing this every time she’s been out of town.

I cant blame this behavior on forensic files alone. When I was 11-ish, happily growing up in India, I let my imagination run wild into believing that the truck being loaded with school supplies for the village kids (my family is big into charity), was going to be hijacked or stolen on the way. As a result, in my tiny note pad, I wrote down everything I could observe about the driver (scares, clothes, hair color, height), the loading people (same attributes), and an extensive description about the truck itself (included drawings).

I am always making up hypothetical situations in my head about things that could go wrong when I am driving (a strange man sitting in the back seat, that I see only after I peek in the rearview mirror), when I am doing laundry (a crazy hiding behind a big washer), and while I am in an indoor gym. And the funny thing is, I’ve got it all planned out in my head. That Guy who tries to tap my shoulder to tell me that I dropped a sock, is going to be sorry for sure!

My hypothetical scenarios work double time when I am with my two nephews. I guard them like…a good simile is not coming to mind at this time. But I swear it feels like I grow eyes on the back of my head when I am around those munchkins. I am free of stupid decision making at least for as long as I am with them.

I think someone indeed has my back, and I am very happy for it.

Dear That Someone:
I know that you’ve had to work overtime in the past few years. But I am getting much better now, as you’ve noticed. Thank you for watching out.
Love,
Chika

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Chika Gujarathi is a freelance writer and a mother of three from Raleigh, NC. She writes for national and local publications about lifestyle, travel, books, and of course, motherhood! Her most current project involves illustrating and publishing a children’s Hindi book. When not adventuring with her family in the minivan, you can find her riding the streets of Raleigh on her beloved bike Linus.

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