Life goes on as expected. You cast glances over your shoulder, expecting shadowy figures matching your every step; you have nightmares about masked men with iron poles leering at you, or worse, unmasked men whose faces you know. Subramanyam tells you that you are overreacting, it’s just a story and the threats were empty but your offices are graffitied every morning with insults and your name. Your mother tells you to be ready when you have to lie in the bed you’ve made.
Two days after the story runs, you come home from an uneventful day at work to find your door ajar. Inside, glass and furniture broken everywhere. Spritzes of blood. You find Subramanyam face-down on the ground, his face a bloody pulp but breath whistling through his lips and broken teeth. You find your mother naked and dead, her body disgraced. Dimly, you hear yourself screaming, even as you phone the police, knowing they will not show up to help you, author of that story, with your new tragedy. You take your husband to the hospital and sit with your head in your hands and your mouth is closed but you still hear the screaming, like that poor girl must have screamed when they held her down, and her family keeps phoning to tell you how grateful they are and you only hear the sound of your mother’s voice, asking you, How could you let me die without dignity. I told you this job would lead you to no good.
Subramanyam recovers and takes a post back in London. You talk on the phone but rarely. He’s busy, he says. You continue working in Delhi, fighting the good fight, and your coworkers respect you like never before, but your life has ended, and from that there is no going back.