It was 8.30pm.Kokila had just put her child to sleep. She switched off the TV after she saw the news of a young woman killed in the lift by the lift operator. It was scary and upset her. She took an unfinished novel to read reclined in her bed. But her mind would not rest on the book and the image of the murdered woman resisting the attack came before her mind. Kokila’s husband Navin had gone on tour for a couple of days. She always retired to bed early whenever Navin was away. She felt lonelier today as the family in the opposite apartment had gone on a pilgrimage. The two apartments at the first floor were also locked as one was vacant and the family in the other had gone for a wedding. People lived in the two apartments on the ground floor. The watchman at the gate had taken leave for ten days.
It was then the door bell rang. Startled she went and peeped through the peephole. It was Kartik, a colleague of Navin, with what looked an official packet in his hand. She hesitated for a second but then opened the door.
“Navin has gone on tour” she said hoping he would leave after giving the packet if he had come to deliver it.
“I know and that is why I have come” he said with a foolish smile even as he closed the door behind him.
Kokila was scared and knew she had made a mistake. But she did not want to betray her fear and pretended to be normal and asked him to be seated.
“I am famished. Get something to eat” he said in a rough tone. He was a muscular and heavily built man with huge biceps. He smelled of alcohol. She decided to play safe and quickly went in to make two oothappams (pan cakes).He was sitting in the sofa and was watching her with a leering look. She knew his intentions were not honourable.Infact when she met him twice in office parties, she had taken an instant dislike for him.
When she handed over the plate, he deliberately brushed his hairy hand with hers. The smirk in his face was unmistakable. He quickly gobbled up the food, let out a loud belch and said “Thank you. The hunger of my belly is over. Now I expect you to be a reasonable girl and not turn foolish. I have always liked you. That hubby of yours never invited me to the house. Tonight my long last wish is going to be fulfilled”
When she turned towards the telephone, he said “Sorry, I have removed the plug and your mobile that you had foolishly left on the dining table is with me. Do not resist. It will be over in 30 minutes and I will go away. I have come determined to possess you dead or alive. Don’t get hurt. Be a smart girl” he said even as he was rotating the scarf in his hand as the kids do with skipping rope. His intent was clear.
Kokila sized up the situation in a trice. The thought of the murdered woman in the lift came to her mind. She said “Okay. But I need a shower. I am stinking. Give me a few minutes. I will be back. But you must leave after you are done with.”
Kartik was elated as he did not expect her to succumb to his threat so easily. He said “Okay. Come quick. I cannot wait for long. Remember, no tricks. I am a ruthless person.”
He heard initially the running water in the bathroom and then the drone of hair dryer. In a few minutes, the door opened. She looked fresh in her new white overall and a large turkey towel on her hand. To his utter disbelief and surprise, she gave him one big coquettish smile and beckoned him to her saying “Come give me a big bear hug”
“What a lovely bitch”he thought to himself and rushed headlong towards her with extended arms. Even as he wrapped tightly her cool body, he felt a warm sensation in the stomach. Startled, he shrank back to see a long and big chef’s knife imbedded in his belly with blood running from the deep wound. He pulled it out only to witness blood gushing out as if from a hose. He lost his balance and felt down. He became scared at the sight of blood and felt weak. He looked at her and venomously cursed “What have you done, you common whore?”He tried to get up clutching at his stomach but could not.
She grabbed the sleeping child and ran towards the door and then the steps to the ground floor. She knocked frantically at both doors. The inmates came out and soon Kartik was in the custody of police.
“The willow which bends to the tempest often escapes better than the oak which resists it and so in great calamities, it sometimes happens that light and frivolous spirits recover their elasticity and presence of mind sooner than those loftier-Sir Walter Scott