It was already 7pm.The sky was overcast and it was dark.Sarala had to finish the urgent work that came up at the end of the day and she was now ready to leave.As she came down the office building she saw that there was a very mild drizzle not big enough to seek shelter.The road was almost empty except for passing cars. Her home was just a little more than a kilometre away and she usually walked the distance.She was happy to leave the office and to look forward to her favourite late night movie on the tube.She wished to reach home fast, have a shower and a good meal before switching on her regular serial on the TV.
Though her apartment was not very far, she had to pass through several small and narrow lanes turning right and left and even a desolate patch of ground before she reached her home. As she started walking briskly on the dark road brightened only by the street lights few and far between, she regretted having sat late in office.It was a lonely road As she walked some distance she heard the sound of foot steps behind her.She turned her head to see a young man in his early twenties walking fifty yards behind her.She hurried her steps and as she came near a small way side shop, she turned again to see if he was behind her at the same distance.Her suspicion was confirmed. She waited at the shop on the pretext of buying some chewing gums and hoping he would walk past her.But he was not to be seen.She looked back at the road and found him silhouted under a lamp post.
She decided it was safe not to linger but to hurry before the rain came. She soon turned to a lane on the right that took her through a desolate patch with no houses around except for a school within a large ground.It was darker here with several trees in that area.She could distinctly hear the steps behind her . She increased her pace and found the man following her had also increased his speed.Her heart started pounding as she saw none in the vicinity.She started almost running.One turn to the left and a furlong away was her home.She prayed to all Gods and virtually ran.
Once she reached her building, she swiftly walked to her apartment, unlocked the door and slammed it back tight.She was perspiring heavily and sank on the sofa.Luckily for her the stalker did not pursue her to her home and must have left after possibly noting where she lived. She switched on all lights, the TV and the music system too.She decided to complain to the police if it happened again. It look long time for her to go into peaceful sleep
As Sarala was coming out of her building the next morning , she heard some one call her.When she turned it was her friend and neighbour Lakshmi who said “Sarala, thank you very much.I forgot to tell you.My brother has come from our village.He is new to the city and had taken up a job near the place where you work.I showed him yesterday when you were leaving for office and asked him to wait till you leave the office and follow you.You know finding way to our house through the labyrinth of lanes is a Herculean task for a new comer..I didn’t want him to get lost.Luckily he found you leaving just when he had finished his work and quietly followed you.He told me that you walked too fast for him to keep pace with you.I should have introduced him to you in the mornng itself..”