Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Insistent Japanese Man

I am 25% Puerto Rican. But I look racially ambiguous I guess. I never really thought I was different growing up in a predominantly white town until at age 13, the janitor came up to me.
"I made a bet with my friend on what ethnicity you are. I bet that you were Indian."
"Uhhh... My grandmother's from Puerto Rico." 

That was the first time I heard that I looked Indian, though it wasn't the last. Kids often confused me with another half-Indian girl all throughout high school, including the librarian. It was kind of amusing, actually.

And here's where we get to the actual story. I spent a little over two months during the summer in Japan one time, around age sixteen. It was pretty cool and I got to stay with an awesome host family because my school has an exchange program.

One time, I decided I was going to go to Ueno to draw in the park a bit. I went alone because at that point I knew the train system fairly well, and honestly, Japan is a very safe place as long as you don't go out sniffing for trouble. I should mention that Japan does have a fairly notable Indian population, and I'd already been stopped on three ocassions and asked if I knew Hindu or if one of my parents was Indian.

Anyway, I was walking off the Jouban line and towards the Park Exit, when I locked eyes with Indian dude as we'll call him. Immediately, I awkwardly looked away and headed to the exit.
I was nearly to the ticket barriers when someone tapped my shoulder. It was Indian dude. I was a little bit startled because it was a bit of an invasion of space, and he was standing REALLY close to me.
"You're beautiful," he said in English. He looked like he was forty up close, and was dressed in a suit, so I assumed he was a businessman. I smiled, because it was a compliment.

"Thank you," I said.

"Really beautiful. Where are you from?"

"The USA."

"You must be Indian. I am. I see it in your face." Oook dude, way to presume. Warning bells haven't started yet though. He didn't even wait for a response before continuing, "I saw you get on at Kita-Matsudo Station. I live there too. Where do you live?"

I didn't even know what to say to this, so he continued,
"What's your address? Where do you live? What's your phone number?" Then, without a even a pause: "Give me your phone number."

Alarm bells started tolling pretty heavily now. What the fuck did he want my address and phone number for? And why was he being so aggressive about it?

"I don't know my address, I just moved in," I lied. "And I don't have a phone number."

"Why?" he demanded.

"Uhhh....My iPhone doesn't have an international plan."

I pushed through the ticket barrier; he did too.

"Are you going to the park? The Zoo? The Museum? Where are you going? I'll go with you."
I decided to abort the park idea and try to escape instead because now he was really giving me the creeps. After being sexually assaulted, I had learned to trust my gut instinct. And he clearly wasn't getting the picture that I didn't want anything to do with him.

"Oh no! I wasn't thinking," I said really loudly, giving a fake giggle. "I'm sorry, I have to catch my train."

If I acted like an idiot, maybe he would leave me alone. If I acted like nothing was wrong or that I was oblivious, he wouldn't hurt me and I could get away...he was forty, muscular, and taller than me. If he attacked me, he could easily overpower me. This was what was going through my head at the time.

I re-entered the ticket barrier (yay I remembered to charge my Suica at Kita-Matsudo), and speeded down to the closest train, which was the Yamanote/Keihin Tohoku line. I sprinted down the stairs to the platform and jumped on without looking back. I thought I'd made it away from him, but he came through from another car. I began to shake like a fucking leaf.

He stuffed a receipt into my hands. "Here is my number. You call me."

Just then the train doors opened and I jumped off at Okachimachi Station, thinking 'yeah right, I'll call you- in a million years.' He stayed on the train. But what he said lastly chilled me to the bone.
"I know you're lying about your phone and your address. You call me and tell me your address, or I'll be waiting for you at the station when you go home. And I won't be happy."

I freaked the fuck out after the train pulled away. Literally just broke down sobbing. Part of me thought I was overreacting, another part of me told me to go with my gut and stay safe. I went to the nearest Kouban (police box), and explained in hysterical Japanese (interspersed with many grammatical errors and tears) what had happened. They called my host family, explained what had happened, and waited with me until my host mom came and escorted me back. They also called him (he had conveniently given me his number after all) and warned him to stay away from me.

He listened because thankfully I never saw him again. The idea though that he knew what station I got off at, and could potentially wait for me in the crowd and then follow me scared the hell out of me though. I spent the next several weeks looking behind my shoulder and not staying out past seven.
Looking back, even if he had waited for me at the station, he could have easily missed me I think. A lot of people go in and out, and if you are with a crowd of commuters, it's easy to disappear. I'm glad I overreacted though, and put my safety first because I don't want to know what could have happened if I hadn't.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just got shivers. Fucking scary.