Weird spectres haunted Sreelakshmi’s dreams night after night. They had the shapes of the rapists whose images she had seen in newspapers day after day.
Sabka Saath, Sabka Balaatkar has become the motto of the country, it seems, Sreelakshmi muttered to herself as she walked into grandma’s room.
“Grandma,” Sreelakshmi said more affectionately than ever.
Grandma smiled. She was familiar with the various shades of her granddaughter’s affection. She put aside her rudraksha mala and said, “What brings my beloved here now? Isn’t it time to get ready for school?”
“Holiday today,” Sreelakshmi said without the cheer that is usually associated with holidays. “Hartal. Some political party is observing hartal today because some of their members were prevented by the police from beating up members of some other party.”
Grandma smiled her toothless smile. Her gums grinned and Sreelakshmi was not frightened because she was familiar with the grin.
“Granny,” Sreelakshmi said sweetly, “people say that you can predict others’ future. Horror-scope or something.”
Grandma smiled again. “Horoscope, darling.”
“Tell me my horror-scope.”
“Why do you want to know it? It’s better not to know certain things, dear. Let the future come as it comes. Deal with the present.”
Sreelakshmi mentioned the nocturnal spectres and grandmas was concerned.
“Don’t worry, dear. You will grow up in spite of the spectres. You will marry a handsome prince. He will love you with his whole heart. You will be happy.”
Sreelakshmi was not happy. Marriage was not her concern. She was just sixteen.
“Ah! I can see your child too,” grandmother said as if she was in a trance. “You’ll have a cute girl child. Cute like you.”
“What!” Sreelashmi was terrified. “A girl child!” Horror-scope indeed!
In the horizon of her horror-scope emerged spectres with protruding canine teeth. They pounced on a girl who looked just like her. Blood trickled. Blood flowed. The horizon turned crimson.