Shalini turned off her laptop and kept the final copy on her boss’s desk. Most of the lights in the office were already out. She checked her phone.
22:40, Saturday, 8th March.
She recalled it was Women’s Day. She’d been too busy today.
She saw her reflection in the office window. She was dressed in a pink salwar-kameez and had a pair of jhumkas on. Her hair was a mess; awkward loose strands hanging out. She tied them back up briskly. Keeping the laptop safely in her bag, she began walking towards the door.
‘Kaka? You can turn off the rest of the lights now,’ she said to the guard.
‘Okay beta, it’s late, go home safe.’
‘Oh don’t worry, it’s not a long walk.’
She got into the lift and checked her phone.
Left? her husband had texted.
Got off now, hope you had dinner… reaching in 15, she texted back.
The street seemed more deserted than usual. She walked past the signal, got to the junction and turned left. Just five more minutes through the lane and she would be home. It was almost 11 now. She looked around. There was nobody on the road. She started walking hurriedly.
A few more steps and she heard a glass break somewhere. She looked around for the source of the sound. The street was still deserted. Almost petrified, she started walking faster, keeping her eyes focused at the end of the lane.
The sound probably came from one of the houses, she thought.
In a few minutes, she was out of the lane. She could see her building. The ice-cream shop below her society was still open.
‘Two sugar-free Belgian chocolate ice-creams, parcel,’ she said. Her heart was still beating fast.
She took the parcel and walked into her society. Juno was at the window, barking at her as she approached her building.
It was Women’s Day and she was safely home.