Don’t run it.

“We can the story,” you say. “It isn’t worth our lives.”

Rajiv looks at you in disbelief. “You can’t be serious.”

“I can’t risk your life,” you say. “And Isha and I… we could be facing much worse.”

“It’s a prank,” he protests. “A hoax.”

You take the letter back. What he’s really saying is What about our paper? Our gender? Our country? “I’m sorry. It’s too much of a risk.” You feel relieved, somewhere; somewhere, you feel sick.

You go home to Subramanyam and reluctantly share the story of your day. Your mother reacts exactly as you predicted. Subramanyam looks at you thoughtfully and squeezes your hand, but the fact that he asks to make love to you later makes you wonder if he really understands the toll this has taken on you, or how it will weigh on you for the rest of your life.

In subsequent days the victim’s family members phone to slander you, or to sob, Why are you doing this to us? You promised to fight for our daughter’s sake. Isha is grateful but, you think, respects you just a little less. Rajiv resents that the story he helped with didn’t run, and eventually he resigns for a post at The Times of India, which has said nothing about the matter, either. You wish him well.  You aren’t resentful. You are merely sad, for your homeland, that you work to promote the free flow of information in a culture of silence that has now silenced you. Though your faith is shaken, you continue to do your part and do it well, but you look the other way now when difficult stories cross your desk, because you cannot again be faced with such a decision and trust you will make the right one, or one that will hurt less than the one you made that day.

But at least you are all alive. And for that you too are grateful.

The end.

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