Sunday, April 24, 2016



"How bad is it?" asked Shalini.

"Very bad. She has sustained pretty bad head injuries and is currently in coma. We are trying our best, but what we really want is a miracle." said the doctor.

Shalini looked through the hospital room window at her mother, with wires attached and computer monitors showing myriad graphs and numbers that somehow said something about how her body is coping up. It was 4 am, about an hour before it would normally be time to wake up and get going with her day. Will she get up at the usual time today, as if nothing ever happened and it was all a bad dream?

Shalini sat across the table from the police officer in the doctor's cabin. Her fingers fiddled around the car keys while the police looked at the papers in front of them.

"We are very sorry about your parents ma'am. So far it looks to be a hit and run case, possibly drunken driving. From the look of the car, the speeding vehicle hit the driver's side and your father, who was driving died on the spot. It looks to have been quick."

"What about the CCTV cameras on the street?" asked Shalini. "There was a lot of talk in the media about the new cameras being put up everywhere in the city. Surely you must be having some footage that would help you catch the person who was driving the speeding car."

"It turns out that the cameras on that street were not working." the officer replied. "Most probably it must have been the street kids hitting stones at them that must have damaged. We are canvasing for possible witnesses to maybe get the registration number or at least the make and model of the car. It is a difficult task since it was really late at night and the road is usually isolated."

"So what you mean to say is right now you have nothing? Not even somebody who could have seen the accident?"

"As I said ma'am, its a very isolated road and it was late at night. We are still searching for people in the surrounding areas who might have seen any speeding vehicle. Looking at the damage caused by the impact, we think it is a big vehicle, an SUV or a truck. We'll contact you once we find something. We are releasing your father's body and you can claim it later today."


2 months earlier

"Why not, Papa?" Shalini shouted. "I'm sick of this place. I've got this new job and I'm taking it."
"How will you manage on your own? All your life you've lived with us and now all of a sudden you want to leave?"

"Yes I do. I'm old enough to take care of myself. And you call this living? It would be good for you once I leave. At least then you can continue your drinking without having to worry about the so called taking care of your daughter. You never wanted me anyway."

"Think about your mother at least beta. What will she do without you?"

"Don't you dare bring Ma into this. Do you think I don't know what you do with her? I don't sleep at night because I know the next morning I'll see her with bruises. You are just a monster pretending to be a father and a husband."

The slap hit her hard on the face and she stumbled.

"Get out. Go wherever you want. You were never wanted in this house anyway. Don't show me your face again."


10 years earlier

"Are you sleeping, beta?" he asked as he entered the room.

Shalini crawled deeper into her blanket. She had heard the noise for the past 30 minutes. His shouting, her mother's cries, the breaking of the glass. All of it.

"I'm not angry now, beta. I know you don't like me doing all this, but you will understand once you grow up. Fights happen between grown ups, but you don't be scared. Nobody is angry at you."

He sat on the edge of her bed and gently patted her forehead.

"My doll is feeling scared. Papa is here for you beta, don't worry."

He slowly slid the blanket off her face. There were tears in her eyes.

"How are you feeling now, my doll? Is your stomach feeling better now? Let Papa check."

He felt her tummy. He also felt the muscles tightening.

"Relax beta. Papa will make you feel better."

She closed her eyes tight as his hand slid further down.


Still fiddling with the keys, Shalini walked out of the hospital. Her father was a monster, he got what he deserved. But why Ma? Why were you with him that night? If she hadn't accompanied him in the car, at least she would have been okay. She never hurt anybody.

Shalini sat in her car. She always found peace while driving. Thank God for easy car loans, she felt. They enabled her to buy the SUV she always wanted. 

But now the long drives will have to wait. At least until the dent in the front of the vehicle had been repaired.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Last Heavy Walk

Holding her in my arms, slowly and very carefully I climbed down the stairs. She was very weak and could not stand up by herself, let alone walk. I had to be very careful in the way I held her so as not to hurt her more than what she was already going through. Sally gave me an affectionate lick expressing her gratitude. I pressed my forehead against her's, something I had been doing for the seven years since we got her as a puppy. I never understood who or what God is, but at that moment I was praying, as hard as never before, with the utmost sincerity I could muster in my 12 year old heart to God to turn the tide and prevent the inevitable. A reluctant tear dropped from my eyes on to her cheeks. Before she could sense my emotions, I laid her down in her favorite corner of the garden where she could relieve herself.

Sally was my friend, a confidante with whom I could share anything. I would tell her my worries, my fears, and she would listen patiently without judging me. I have spent entire evenings playing with her. I have cried on her furry shoulders while she would try her best to lick my sadness away. It was all going to end soon, much sooner than any of us wanted to. I could not share my sadness with her. I needed to be strong for her. To be there with her in her final days. I lay on my bedroom floor looking at her, my mind flooding with all the memories that we'd shared in the past 7 years. There were our little secret which would never be told to anybody else. Who will I talk to once you are gone, Sally? She opened her eyes meekly. I think she sensed my sadness. You are going to get through this, I tell her. But her resigned look told me that she also knew what was coming. 

We first noticed something was wrong two weeks earlier. I had taken her for her daily evening walk, and we did a small jog on our way back. Being the lazy dog that she was, she didn't like jogging much so she was lagging behind. When we reached home, she suddenly froze for a moment and then collapsed on the ground on her side. I didn't know what was happening. She was up within a few seconds, but the sight of her falling like that scared me. Her heart has become weak, the vet told us. She does not have much longer to live. Our world was collapsing around us. What do you mean she does not have long to live, I wanted to ask. You are a doctor, you are supposed to know how to cure these things. What is the use of being a doctor if you can strengthen a weak heart or save a life?

I was angry and I didn't know whom to blame. Was the vet at fault because she wasn't able to make Sally better? Was Sally to blame for being in the state that she is? Or was I the culprit for forcing her to run when I knew she did not like it? Later that night, I snuggled to my mother and hugged her tight. You are also a doctor Ma, can't you do something for Sally? She patted my head in the way only mothers do. We can give her some medicines which would make her live a bit longer. But she is going to get very weak soon. And the longer we keep giving her the medicines, the longer she will suffer. It is a tough decision we have to make.

Sally's last day had finally arrived. I wished that the night would never end. Let morning never come, dear God, let this night remain dark. But it didn't. Daylight broke and I was all ready for school the earliest I could be. Sally would be taken to the vet one last time while me and my siblings were away at school. I wanted to spend as much time as I could with her. Her head on my lap, we sat without any words being uttered. The silence and the finality of the situation did all the talking. My father put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed it. Its time for you to go or you will be late to school, he said. Just one more minute Pappa, just one last minute more. I kissed her cheeks for one last time. No more of your fur on my clothes Sally. No more will I be welcomed home with that black wagging tail. No more will anybody beg me to share the snack I'm eating. Will you miss me as much I will miss you Sally?

It was the toughest walk to school. I wanted to go back and be with her. I wanted to cry without anybody seeing me do so. You could not make it rain, could you God? You could not do anything to wash away the tears that wanted to come out but could not. Do you even exist God? Why are you so sad today, my friends asked me. My dog is being put to sleep, I tell them. They laugh at me. Look at him, they say. Crying over a dog. Just get another one na, some suggest. How do I explain to them that you can't just get another dog? How do I tell them that it isn't a toy, where if one is gone you buy another. She is my Sally for heaven's sake. She will always be my Sally.

When I reached home in the afternoon, everybody was sad. We ate our food in complete silence, as if the first word spoken would shift the delicate balance of our universe. Will you take me where she is buried? I asked my parents. Yes, we will go there today evening.

I plucked the biggest flower from the garden before going. Sally was gone, and all we had left were the beautiful memories. She will always be there in our hearts, Ma said. Try to remember the love we shared for 7 years more than the last 10 days. I told them to leave me alone near her grave for a few minutes. I'll miss you Sally. Wherever you are now, I know you must be sharing your love because that's what you always did best. I placed the flower on the stone marking her resting place. I have got you your favorite biscuits Sally, will you eat them? I opened the biscuit packet I was carrying and held the biscuit forward in my hand. I could not take it any longer. My eyes pinched close as the tears finally started flowing. My mind couldn't keep them inside any longer.

Suddenly I felt a tiny mouth attempting to pick the biscuit from my hand. I opened my eyes and there was a little brown puppy with tiny floppy ears looking at me in anticipation and wagging it's tail. Are you hungry? I asked the puppy who started wagging even more furiously. You are so dirty, you need to have a bath. Come with me, let me clean you up a bit. I picked up the puppy and went back to my parents who were waiting for me. Somewhere deep beneath the ground, Sally smiled.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


I scraped the last bit of scrambled eggs from the pan on to the plate. The bread was in the toaster and the coffee was ready. Archana entered the kitchen as I was just finishing laying out the plate for her. She had just showered and had the fresh morning look which amazed me every time.

"That does smell and look good. Any special occasion, dear husband?"

"I'm in a very good mood today morning, dear wife. Especially after last night." I winked.

Didn't I love seeing those cheeks turn red. We sat on the table for our breakfast.

"Looks like Mili had a good night's sleep yesterday, so you should not have much trouble today morning."

"I actually love the fact that I get to spend more time with our daughter than you. How many fathers can say that eh? We always have a blast together without you around."

"Some people also say that I'm an irresponsible mother, working while my child is yet to even start walking. What do you say to that?"

"Just that those people don't realize the joy of switching roles from time to time. You just worry about bring home enough money for us to pay our bills and I'll worry about taking care of the house."

She squeezed my arm.

"You do know how much I appreciate you doing this, don't you?"

"You are doing the real hard work, I'm just sitting at home lazing around and spending time with my daughter. So if we are done with all the sentimental talk, off you go to work."

"Before I go, I want to remind you to do something about that compost pit you have started in the garden. Its beginning to smell bad."

"It is a compost pit. It will smell bad for some time. But then you just wait and see how well our plants turn out. Shoo now."

Archana left for her office. I checked the baby timetable that she had kept for me. The next feeding was due in a couple of hours.

I liked this feeling of not having any work pressure and the time that my situation gave me. It was a tough decision, but I was glad for it. Traditionally a mother gives up her career to care for a child. In our case, Archana had a better job and a better salary than me, so it made some sense for her to continue working while I could care for the baby. And I insisted on it.

Sitting on the sofa, I opened the newspaper. All depressing news as usual. Economy is down, blasts occurring in some remote corner of the world, a burglary here and there. My eyes stopped at a news article about a missing corporate tycoon, Karan Joshi. Wasn't that name familiar? Of course it was. We were in college together, in fact we were at that time thinking of starting a venture together before life happened and things didn't turn out the way we thought they would. The article said he was last seen going out for lunch from his office and did not return. His phone was found in a dustbin next to the office building. It had been a week now but there was still no trace of him. There hadn't been any ransom call yet but the police weren't sure of ruling out kidnapping.

Did I feel bad about it? I wasn't sure. He was my best friend in college, my only confidante. The idea on which he built his company was my idea, and I ended up not being a part of it. While I was trying to make my ends meet, he was pitching the business plan to various investors connected to his rich father and managed to get an initial investment. One thing led to another and he became one of the youngest business heads. All of it, started with my idea, not his. And now he was missing. Did I feel bad about it? Maybe a bit for his family, but not for him.

I remembered Archana had told me to do something about the smell in the compost pit. Maybe I should put more soil on it to reduce the smell. As I shoveled soil into the pit, I felt a surge of anger. It should have been the both of us who would succeed together. My idea did not benefit me. You son of a bitch Karan, you stink. Literally. I do hope the worms and insects are feasting on you right now. I hope they finish you fast so that the smell can reduce before Archana gets more inquisitive about this compost pit.

I washed away the dirt and checked the time. It was time for Mili's feed. I took her bottle and went to her. She looked at me with a twinkle in her eyes. I love you my child, and I will make sure that nobody plays with your dreams ever.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Always Late!

I checked my watch yet again, as if the more I check the time, the faster my bag will arrive. I was pretty sure that I could identify at least four different bags that had circulated the carousel more than five times but my bag did not turn up even once. What the hell were those airline ground staff paid for?

My phone rang. It was my sister Sayali.

"Did you fall asleep in the plane? What is taking you so long?" she barked.

"Is it my fault now that my plane gets delayed and my bag refuses to arrive?"

"Give all the excuses you want, you are always late for everything. You know the memorial service starts in 30 minutes right?"

"Yes my dear, I know that. I will change at the airport itself and come directly to the church. The airline has already pissed me off quite bad, I don't need you to make me feel worse."

"Blame me for every damn thing now. I hope you know where the hall is. It is behind....."

"Stop it now. I also grew up in the same town as you. Okay, I see my bag now. See you in a few minutes." 

I cut the phone. Do all sisters like to micro-manage everything? She may be older than me, but I'm 28 now and she still treats me like a five year old kid.

I rushed with my bag to the restroom to change into more formal attire. Damn, I should have worn the suit before taking off. I quickly changed into the suit and was sitting in the cab in 10 minutes.

On a normal day, it should take about 10 minutes from the airport to the church, but since Murphy's law applied to the situation, there was a big traffic jam. My phone rang again.

"Where are you now?" Sayali asked.

"I'm sitting on my ass in the cab and there is a big traffic jam."

"Why do I have a feeling that you are still at the airport?"

"So I'm a liar now? Wait, let me open the window. Can you hear the honking outside? Or do you need more proof?"

"Its no use yelling at me. You were one of his favorites, not me. Couldn't you have come a day earlier?"

"Listen, its no use talking in retrospect. I'm trying my best here. So please cut me some slack."

"Fine" she said and cut the phone.

One word "fine", but it can have different connotations when it is said by a girl, none of which is the actual dictionary meaning of the word. But she was right. I was one of Francis sir's favorite. 

Francis D'Souza was my high school teacher, though mentor would be a better word. He literally held my hand through all my struggles grasping math, often staying after school hours to provide me individual tutoring. If it wasn't for him, I would never have had the courage to become a teacher myself later in life. He made me fall in love with numbers and that was the basis of everything else in my life and career. We kept in touch even after I moved out of the city to work, though the past year it regressed. His health was failing him with age and I was too busy with my work to pay him a visit. That was till I got the phone call two days back. He had passed away. All the guilt of neglecting him came crashing on me. I hadn't seen him for over a year and now the only way I would remember him would be sleeping peacefully in his coffin.

Finally the cab reached the destination. I hastily paid the driver and rushed towards the church with my bag tagging along. Oh wait! Where was the hall exactly? I saw a priest walking by.

"Excuse me, Father. Can you please tell me where Mr. D'Souza's memorial service is being conducted?"

"Sure. If you go towards the front entrance of the church, then its in the hall on your left."

I thanked him and hurried. Luckily I was only 10 minutes late.

I entered the hall. The coffin was right in the front and there were about 8 people sitting on the benches. I could not see Sayali there. There was a slight sense of victory here. I'm the one who is always late, it it?

I had never met his family before. I approached the old lady sitting in the front, who I assumed would be his wife.

"Mrs. D'Souza, I want to offer my deepest condolences for your loss. He was a great man."

"Thank you, child. May I ask who you are? Sorry, but I've never seen you before." she said.

"I was his student. One of his favorites in fact."

The man sitting nearby came over. 

"Really?" he said tersely. "What exactly did he teach you?"

"Everything that he knew. He loved his job. I used to struggle a lot earlier, but he made me feel comfortable. He was my inspiration and I followed his footsteps into my career. I owe him my life, my career, everything."

The man gave me a disgusted look and walked out of the hall. I could not understand what I had said that offended him. I sat down next to the lady and held her hand.

"Ma'm, if there is anything I could do for you, please let me know. It would mean a lot to me." I said.

She pulled her hand away and turned her back towards me. I looked around. Everybody was looking at me suspiciously. Nobody said anything.

I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was the priest who had given me directions earlier. 

"Can you please come with me for a moment, son?" he asked gently.

We walked out of the hall.

"Now, I see that you have made these people very uncomfortable." he said.

"I don't know what is happening. I just told them that Mr. D'Souza was my teacher and how special he was to me."

"Trevor taught you, is it?" 

"Who is Trevor?" 

"Trevor D'Souza, the man whose memorial this is. He used to be an actor, you know. Not the normal theater or movies. He used to work in those .. umm ... adult films. You know what I'm saying? The family did not like his profession, so they do not talk about it."

"Oh my God! I am here for Mr. Francis D'Souza's memorial. He was my school teacher."

"Oh, that is being held in the hall behind the church."

I thanked him and hurried towards the correct hall. Well, that explained the looks that I got. Hell, what was I talking?

The hall was almost full. I scanned the crowd and located Sayali who was sulking. She had kept a seat next to her empty for me. I quietly went and sat next to her. I knew what was coming.

"Thank you for coming before they finished the service. What is your excuse now?"

"I don't have any excuse. You won't believe what just happened. I reached the church and ..."

"Just shut up. Excuses and more excuses. I don't want to listen to any of your stories. You are always late!"

Based on an incident in the book "The Skin Collector" by Jeffrey Deaver.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Love to Hate

Why do we love to hate so much?

This question comes to my mind every time I open any form of social media. We hate politicians, we hate animals, we hate our neighbors, we hate this, that, everything. Not a single day passes without some form of hatred being posted on every social platform. Let me put it in another way

If x is an object to be hated,

y = hate (x)

Now somebody that loves x, will hate y

hate(y) = hate(hate(x))

Next somebody will hate the somebody hating y, because maybe that somebody likes x.

Therefore hate(hate(y)) = hate(hate(hate(x)))

If x = hate(y)

hate(x) = hate(hate(hate(x)))

Substituting further we get

hate(x) = hate(hate(hate(.......hate(x)....)))

Can you see where this is going? 

One single hate gives rise to multiple hates and there is simply no end. Any person with a bit of familiarity with computer programming knows what this is. Classic stack overflow in recursive functions (Okay, I had to put some geeky stuff here).
Which brings us to the question (once you forgive the senselessness of my mathematical model). Why do we hate everything so much?

The most recent episode, that actually prompted me into writing this post, is about the scathing criticism of the new movie PK. Assuming that you have watched the movie in addition to reading and listening to all the praises and brickbats, I want to give my opinion.

The movie raises questions, lots of them, some might be viewed as controversial. Most of the criticism that I've read is that it singles out Hinduism as a religion for questioning beliefs. Why not Islam, Christianity or Sikhism? This reminds me of an incident when I was in school. The teacher was reprimanding a student for some bad behavior. The student's argument was, why do you pick on just me? I'm not the only one behaving badly, there are many more in this class. Why have you singled me out? The teacher replied, even if everybody else in the class is behaving badly, does that mean your behavior is fine? We are focusing on behavior, not who is doing it!

By now it should be clear, which side of the coin I'm supporting. The movie did raise some big questions, but the so called protectors of religion are evading the actual questions and instead resorting to redirecting the focus. I'm a Hindu myself, and no, I did not feel that my belief was questioned in any manner by the movie. The questions raised were logical ones. If God loves his children, will he tell them to roll on the floor or beat yourself before he shows love? When he is so powerful, will he be hurt by somebody asking him a question?

What is the whole point of religion? All of seek peace of mind. Some find it in work, some in art, some find it in religion. It is all in the mind, in a very personal space. Nobody can force you to believe in something until and unless it comes from within. It isn't necessary that what we believe is correct. For example, didn't mankind believe once upon a time that the earth was flat or that the sun revolved around the earth? If questions were not raised about this, we wouldn't have discovered the truth. When we are unable to answer questions on what we believe, somewhere in a remote corner of this personal space in the mind, doubts begin to rise as to maybe, just maybe there might be more to this than what meets the eye. It is not the faith that is being questioned, it is the logic behind the practices that is questioned. We seek to rationalize every thing, then why not religion too?

A few years back, the same people made another movie that questioned the educational system in engineering colleges of India. Nobody said, why only engineering, why not arts, commerce, law colleges? All of us enjoyed the movie and went home with a smile. Why not do the same here?

What I'm most happy about is that the movie has given rise to widespread discussion on a topic that is being demonized. We need to move away from the "my religion is better than yours" debate. Religion is a personal preference, just like the brand and type of clothes we wear. Just because I like wearing a particular brand does not mean everybody should. Just because I prefer playing cricket does not mean a person playing football is wrong or ignorant. If you feel that questions are being asked about your beliefs, answer them using the same beliefs. If you think the questions don't make any sense, explain why they don't make any sense.Sometimes the question is more important than the person asking the question.

And please, for once. Can we stop hating each other? If you don't like a person, don't talk to them. Simple! There is so much more to life than hating somebody just because that somebody does not believe in the same thing as you do. If you don't want to hear the questions that the movie asks, just don't watch the movie. Is it so difficult to "not spend" your money on something that you don't want to watch?

Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one and everybody thinks that the other person's stinks. I like mine.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Lonely Birthday

"Thank you"
"Thanks a lot :)"
"Haha ... thanks"

Replying to all those meaningless wishes on Facebook is the last thing I want to do on my birthday. I want to go out, I want to celebrate. Alas that isn't going to happen. A man struggling to find a job in a new city has very few friends, if not none. These are not the type of friends you would want to go out with and have a party. I know who I want to go out with and she is right next door. But Meera would not go anywhere with me, not now.

People have called me a lot of things over the years, shy and introverted being the most decent of them. They never understood me and majority did not even try to understand me. Yes, I had a problem and the problem was that I found it extremely difficult to convert my thoughts into spoken words. I always had answers to all the questions in my mind, but they refused to come out of my mouth. I was going downhill with my inability to communicate, almost on the verge of contemplating suicide, and that's when I met Meera.

She turned my life around. Finally I had found somebody who understood me. She introduced me to writing and that gave me an outlet for all the thoughts that were flooding and overwhelming my mind. She made me realize that I wasn't totally useless and in fact I was pretty good at something.

Don't think about those times, I tell myself. Things have changed now. People come into your life, change things around, and then they leave you, as if they weren't even there. You are on your own now and its high time you got your shit together. Nobody cares about anybody other than themselves, so learn to live with it.

Okay okay fine. I get the point, but thinking about the good days makes me feel better. It is like a tiny spark of light in a dark tunnel. It does not do much, but it does give you something to smile about.

Smile like a fool the entire day if you so like. Anyway, nobody is going to celebrate your birthday for you. Not Meera, nor any of your family. You don't even have any friends. Don't tell me you have 347 so called friends on Facebook, they don't count.

My head is about to burst, I don't want to think anything.

Yes, you don't want to think. That will stop everybody else from thinking that you are an idiot, is that right? That will stop people from making fun of you behind your back. Your stopping to think prevented that Raj in school from sticking that paper on your butt saying "Here is an Asshole". Your stopping to think prevented you from losing your jobs, is it? Your stopping to think will prevent you from overhearing Meera making fun of you?

Stop it right there. I like her, hell I love her more than anything else.

Yes you do. But what does she feel about you? I don't think she even wants to wish you on your birthday.

She doesn't know it because I never told her. Go to hell, I am going to tell her right now, and nothing is going to stop me.

I pick up the key to her apartment from my table and walk to her door. Will it be rude to go in without knocking? I knock on the door but nobody answers. I unlock the door and enter. Everything is too dark. I turn on the light and there I see Meera sleeping peacefully in her sleeping bag. I open the zip of the bag and hold her in my arms. I like holding her when she is asleep. The blood on her clothes has also dried up now. Why Meera why? Why did you say mean things about me? I liked holding you better when you were awake, but it is fine. I will take whatever I get in this life. An asshole cannot make big demands. I hope you are sleeping soundly Meera.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Late Evening

Never...Never again am I going to multi-task, thought Sapna as she hastily picked up everything that was fallen on the footpath. Never search for something in your purse while you are talking on the phone. In compliance with Murphy's law, the purse will choose that very moment to overturn and spill all the assorted contents all over.

It was quite a crowded evening and the people around her looked on as she gathered her myriad collection. Too much to expect a bit of chivalry and decency from the men standing around, she thought. None of them came forward to help her, they just stood their ground and stared. One particular man with a rugged unshaven face stood out. His stare was weird to say the least. Maybe stared was the wrong word, leching would be more appropriate. Sapna realized that she was bending down while picking up her things. She adjusted her top so that the neckline came up a bit higher. Bloody men, she thought. Always out to get a glimpse wherever and whenever they can.

In a hurry she stuffed everything in the purse and walked away. The sun was going down and she was already getting late. As she hurriedly crossed the street, she looked back and saw the unshaven man behind her. He waved out to her smiling. The smile revealed tobacco stained teeth. Creepy!

She quickened her pace. There was still about a kilometer to walk before the bus stop. She glanced behind and saw that the man was also walking faster now. He would easily catch up with her before reached the bus. The alley in which she was walking was very less crowded now and it was dark. She broke into a run. If he was going to catch her anyway, she was not going to make it easy for him.

Everybody had told her that the city is not safe for women, especially after dark. She had conveniently chosen to ignore these talks. Afterall she was a strong, modern, independent women and had more important matters to think of. Who worries about all these things until they happen to you? She now regretted not heeding the advice.

She had to lose him somehow, maybe give him a slip. As she was running she saw a broken wall on the right. Maybe that would hide her till he crossed and then she could double back and take another route. She ran behind it and crouched down. A bead of sweat trickled down her neck as she pressed her back against the wall. With her heart pounding in her chest, she peeped from the side and saw him approaching. It was quite apparent that he hadn't seen her go behind the wall as he seemed to be looking around for her. Maybe he will just keep going and she would lose him. In the tension she miscalculated the strength of the wall. A couple of loose bricks fell down with a thud. He noticed the sound and ran towards the broken wall.

Sapna was standing defiantly before him now. If she was going to get it anyway, she won't make it easy for him. She would put all those self-defense lessons to use. He gave his stained smile. His hand went into his pocket as if trying to take out a weapon, but Sapna was too quick for him. A kick on the shins, a punch on the jaw and another kick between his legs. He lay sprawled on the ground. 

As she was about to move away from the scene, she saw something clutched in his hand. It was her wallet that had fallen out earlier.