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After a long time Sri had time to sit and relax on a Sunday. She took the novel her friend had sent her as a gift and curled up on her cozy bed with her feet under the duvet. With the book in hand she looked outside the window and smiled to herself. She was feeling unusually cheery. The Sun was shining bright which added to her vivid mood. With a happy sigh she tried to concentrate on the book.
She had not even started reading when she heard a loud scream. It was Anu’s. Her heart missed a beat. Hundred and ten thoughts ran through her mind in those few moments.
Within seconds she ran towards her daughter’s room. She froze at the sight of her daughter sprawled on the floor, with bewildered eyes and shocked expressions. From where she was standing she could only see Anu but could not see what caused her daughter so much pain. Anu was on her back and was trying to slide back pushing with her legs. It was getting difficult for her to get up as her skirt kept coming in the way. She kept falling back. Sri ran to hug her daughter, to tell her that all is well. Sri wanted to assure her that her mother will never, ever, let anything harm her.
Sri took Anu in her arms and held her tight, whispering sweet nothings in her ears to alleviate her fear. Her daughter was shaking with fright and burst out in tears as soon as she was held. Before Sri could understand anything, another scream reverberated in the hall. Sri turned back just in time to stop the hockey stick hitting her head. The man lunged with the stick at her daughter again but this time Sri was ready. She held the stick with all her might but her slight frame was of no match to the heavily built man. She stumbled and fell back. She kicked him but her leg did not even, so much as, touch the man. Sri felt lost. She knew she will not be able to hold for long. She called out to Anu. Sri wanted her to call police or at least someone else for help but she saw that her daughter was in a state of shock and was staring blankly at the assailant. Sri looked at the assailant herself and she was baffled at the sight. Everything till now had happened at such lightening speed that she had not realized who the attacker was! Before she could think or react, her assailant came after her again. She had to save her daughter at any cost. For that she needed Anu’s help. She screamed at Anu, to get her out of the stupor. Anu looked at her mom but did not react at all. She was too shocked at the turn of events. Sri slid back; she wanted to get to the open area from where she can call for help. Her mind was working fast. Dodging his blows she ran towards the balcony but the stick hit her badly and she fell down. At the sight of blood from her mother, Anu started crying uncontrollably. She rushed to her mother but Sri knew if she came near her she too would be harmed. Sri assured her that she was fine but Anu had to help her. Anu nodded with tears trickling down her chubby cheeks. Sri asked her to get someone to help. For some unfathomable reason, the assailant was not bothered about the girl getting away. Sri was his sole focus. There was menace in his eyes and terror in Sri’s. Sri managed to get to the railing of the balcony but there was only one way to get away from him, downwards from the 10th floor! He threw the stick on the floor and came with his hands for Sri’s throat. It was easy for him now to throw Sri off; even she realized it and closed her eyes in silent prayer.
But the pressure on her windpipe eased suddenly. She opened her eyes; coughing uncontrollably and gasping for air Sri dropped on the floor. Some people were dragging the man away. Anu came running into her arms and hugged her mother tightly. Sri saw the man’s, her husband’s, bedevilled eyes focused in oblivion.