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.