Years ago – as in decades and decades-long before I got married – had just bought my first house in Somerset West and was still in the wall-hugging, no-money-for-food stage.
Used to read my book while cycling on my exercise bike for a good few kilometres each night. That particular evening I heard my cat at the window. For whatever reason – instead of drawing back the curtains with a flourish to let Madcat in – I peeked through the side – very carefully.
My heart thudded to a complete standstill. (Probably got lodged in my throat – effectively preventing both heart and throat from operating effectively.) There, kneeling on my very own bedroom windowsill was a large person. Peeping through the tiny vee where the curtains did not quite meet at the top.
Spying on me.
Aaaargh. Scary swine! Opened my jaws to give an almighty holler and, most scary of all, not a single sound escaped.
Tried again. Nada.
Fortunately, by the time I stumbled shaking and shuddering to the phone to summon the police, I had recovered some vocals.
And so began a period of total harassment. The police did a pretty thorough job of harassing me too – ringing the bell in the dead of night to check if I was okay, then asking for coffee seeing as I was (now) awake, leering at me in the doorway.
Making me feel totally uncomfortably insanely mad.
Eventually, I learnt to ignore their bell ringing. Felt safer without their dodgy protection.
Mr Peeping Tom was another story.
A friend of mine was undergoing psychotherapy at the time and happened to mention my predicament. The prognosis was – He’s probably harmless – a nuisance, but harmless. On the other hand – you never know with these people – he might turn nasty and try to get into the house. Take him seriously.
There followed a period of siege.
All the curtains in the house were firmly pegged together as soon as the sun sank from view. With several pegs – just for good measure. And yet still I could hear him scuffling around outside.
Perhaps I should explain, I was a single mom at that time, My daughter was about 3 or so and I was a tad paranoid. I begged the bank for a credit card and invested in some fencing – just diamond mesh – and it was only waist height, not really effective but enclosed the yard, made me feel safer.
Still, he came.
Borrowed a loud hailer from work, switched it to siren mode, tried blasting his ear. To no avail.
Then struck upon a brilliant idea – glued thumb tacks to my window sill, and boot polished them black. Then parked off under the sill on the inside, curtains closed, swilling wine, eagerly awaiting his howls of anguish.
They never came – but the prickles did keep him off the window ledge, for a while anyway.
Guess after a few weeks I was not so scared of him anymore. Just wildly irritated that my peace and privacy had been violated.
On one occasion, found myself charging after him in the dark, yelling like a banshee, brandishing a knife. Possibly may have been writing this from jail, had my neighbour not yelled and brought me to whatever was left of my senses.
Found out later that he was a regular tyrant in the neighbourhood, had been spying on a whole bunch of us females. Eventually, somebody’s significant other caught him and he spent a spell in the chook.
The thing that haunted me for several decades after (ag okay – only three), was the fact that I had been unable to scream in time of need.
A few decades later, was married and we’d moved to Springs in Gauteng.
Just after we’d been robbed of a whole lot of stuff, I’d lie in bed awake, straining to hear if the f#@&ers were going to try again. One night I did hear something and stealthily snuck to the bathroom without waking the dogs, stood on the loo and peeped out of the top window.
Swine were at it again – trying to break the lock of the outside wendy house.
I opened my mouth and yelled at them.
My lovely husband said that it was a terrifyingly deep throaty yowl and it almost scared the pants off him too.
They ran away.