You grasp the edge of the desk and swallow your fear, blink your eyes rapidly until your face feels composed.
You don’t think of yourself as foolhardy. You’re no hero, and even if you were, it’s not a role you can foist onto your assistants, dedicated as they are. But as a woman, you can’t help but feel you owe it to your fellow Indian women, all of whom know this occurs on a daily basis only to be met with silence. If you don’t run this as a local story, you truly believe: no one else will. The atmosphere of fear, the culture of silence, it’s just too oppressive for anyone to want to break first.
You stack the vetted stories and place the article about the Delhi rape on top. You take the letter in your hands, open the door. “Isha?” you call.
She seems harried when she comes in. “I wanted to speak to you,” you start to say, but she interrupts you.
“Two men followed me to work today. One asked me if I worked for you. He said I should quit before we run that story, Radhika. I phoned the police but they just laughed at me and said I was panicking because of ‘this Delhi rape propaganda.'” She nearly spits the quoted phrase, she’s so angry, but her frustration does not disguise her fear.
You crease the letter in your hands. She’s looking at you with anxiety but also admiration. She will follow your instructions, you can see that, she’s too naive to know different, even through her fear. And she is afraid. Her hands knitted together so tightly they look drained of blood. You take her hands in yours and press them like your mother used to press yours, offer her your most consoling smile.
“Listen to me,” you say. “It will be all right. Here’s what we’ll do.”