Tuesday 6 September 2011

The Woman with the Knife

Looking out of my room’s window and observing people, vehicles, animals, and birds is one of my favourite pastimes. One fine morning, as I was practising this very ritual, I happened to notice a woman in a pink saree, standing right below my building. She didn’t have any slippers on. Walking barefoot on the road? Strange, I thought. But what I saw next completely stumped me. She was holding a sharp knife in one hand. She wasn’t carrying anything else—just a sharp, kitchen knife!

She looked around cautiously, as if to ensure that no one was watching her. But I was! And she sensed it and looked up at me suddenly. She glared continuously at me for what seemed to be an eternity. Without moving her gaze, she started tapping the open palm of her other hand with the knife. Tap! Tap! Tap! Tap!... Recognising this to be a scene out of many a suspense thrillers, my mind raced through all possibilities: Did she know me? Did I have a fight with her…in some BEST bus? Maybe she was standing next to our car, and my dad had shooed her away? Maybe she was back for revenge? Maybe she isn’t in her right senses and now that she has seen me, she thinks I am her long-lost enemy?

She walked around the building, constantly looking at me, like she was planning to reach up to my window and slay me any moment now. I was quite freaked out, but I stood rooted near my window. Slowly, she walked away from my building. Phew! I was relieved as I saw her disappear behind some trees near the adjacent building. It was just my imagination, I calmed myself and continued looking at random things on the street with a light smile on my lips. 

But my expression soon changed. She was back. Once again, below my building, staring directly at me. The knife was still in her hand. She walked around my building compound for some more time. This time, she surveyed each and every window of my house. By then, I was pretty petrified. I thought of ways to protect myself: If I just ask her what her problem is, will she go away? Should I call my folks so that she’d know I wasn’t alone in this universe? Should I just alert the shopkeepers on the ground floor of my building and get the situation under control? Should I just scream for help? (No, walking away from the window didnt occur to me.)

But before I could even think of acting upon any of these brilliant ideas, she abruptly raised the knife into the air and brought it down menacingly at lightning speed. Swish! Swish! Slash! I cringed... In a few milliseconds, it was all over!

She had got what she had wanted—a branch from the hibiscus plant that grew in my building compound. She looked at me one last time, and walked away coolly. Of course, I still stood there in a daze, feeling rather silly.

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