[fiction] Following Her On Twitter

He had done this before, it was easy enough. All Vinod had to do was start following her on Twitter; it didn’t matter if he interacted with her or not, didn’t matter if she followed him back. In fact, he liked it better when she didn’t follow him back. He preferred the comfort of anonymity.

Vinod had a very ordinary profile on Twitter, by design. He didn’t want to attract attention to himself; he wanted to be just another profile on a crowded social networking site. She had nearly 2,500 followers; he was just another drop in that sea. She didn’t know he existed, but Vinod knew everything about her. He followed her updates closely; he received her tweets on his mobile phone as well. He knew where she worked, he knew her job profile, he knew who she was close friends with, he knew her favourite hang-outs, he knew the routes she took to work and back home, he knew her favourite colours, the kind of movies she liked watching, the music she listened to, he knew about the anxieties she faced in her relationship with her boyfriend, and quite often, he knew what she was wearing as well.

There wasn’t much Vinod had to do to know such intrinsic details about her and her life. She gave them all out herself on Twitter. She used applications like FourSquare often enough to announce where she was. At other times, she didn’t think twice before making her plans public. It was very easy for Vinod to keep tabs on her.

He hadn’t been as successful with her Facebook profile, though. He had been able to find her out on Facebook, but he she hadn’t accepted his friend request. But since her Profile Pictures album was open, he had taken a close look at her fine features.

Vinod liked her better in real, though. He believed her pictures didn’t do justice to how beautiful she really was. She was sitting a few feet away from him now. This wasn’t the first time that Vinod had been near her in public. He had been around her quite often in the past few days. In fact, he had been at a table near her at this very pub a couple of times earlier. This was her favourite place to drop in after work for a drink with friends. He knew the pattern. She would get off work at around 7pm, take an auto to this pub where she would meet two or three friends and then one of the guys, who Vinod was sure was her boyfriend, would driver her home. On the days when she didn’t come to this pub, she took an auto directly home.

This evening, Vinod knew, she wasn’t going home. This was the day he had been eagerly waiting for. If he ever was going to make a move, it had to be today. He had followed her for nearly five months, waiting for this day to come. Waiting for the right opportunity was paramount for him; he couldn’t afford to be impatient. On the other hand, Vinod didn’t want the opportunity that this evening presented to go away either. It had been eight long months since his last victim; it had been long enough already. Today, she would be his fourth.

Vinod saw her get up and quickly paid his bill. The whiskey he’d been drinking had given him a mild high, just about enough to give him courage to get what he wanted without losing his senses. He followed her white flannel shirt out of the pub, her hair tied in a loose ponytail, her diamond earrings shinning above her long, beautiful neck.

She hugged her friends outside the pub and hailed an auto. Vinod didn’t care if her boyfriend dropped her off or not today, it would have no bearing on what he intended to do. He kick-started his scooter and got behind the auto she had taken. The traffic was heavy enough to allow him to follow the auto without being conspicuous.

Two intersections later, when the auto stopped at a red light, Vinod steered his scooter into a lane on the left side. Ordinarily, her auto would have also taken that left turn. But not today evening, Vinod knew she wasn’t heading home. She had told a friend about her plans explicitly on Twitter, and he had read those tweets.

Vinod knew she was heading to the railway station. Her family was going to meet her there; they were going away on a 5-day vacation. This was the opportunity that Vinod was looking forward to. He had begun to lose hope when he had finally read her tweets about her family going away. She had been one of his prime targets on Twitter; it was her family that made her so. An upper middle class family, living in a nice bungalow in a quiet residential area, hers was the kind of household that a thief looked to pilfer.

It was just perfect for Vinod. One raid at her place and he would have enough to live lavishly for at least a year. By the time his family would come back and inform the police, he would be in another state. The theft would be investigated, but without any leads, the police and the family would eventually give up. By that time, he would have created a new profile on Twitter, and found out his next target. With thousands of people, maybe even more, joining social networking sites every month, Vinod knew he would never run short of victims.

Social networking was a revolution in more ways than one. It was a great way for people to share their thoughts, interact and make friends. Social networking was a revolution for Vinod as well; it was the safest way for him to pick targets to steal from.

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