Megha was haggard and scared. Yet, she couldn’t rest. Her forehead was bleeding and she could barely move as her leg had suffered from the molotov attack.
“Come out, you vile creature. You have no right to live.” The voice came from outside followed by loud banging on the door. Megha checked the bolt on the door. It was still there but she wasn’t sure for how long the door will hold. She picked up her phone and called her sister.
“I am surrounded. Please help.”
“Where?” Shruti said.
“I am coming.”
Megha knew that Shruti was almost half an hour away from this place and she hoped to survive till then. She heard another thud sound on the door and shivered.
Shruti got into an auto and called Emily.
“Megha is in the house. The people have attacked her.” Shruti said as soon as she heard the ring stop.
“WHAT? How?” Emily asked with a panic coming in her voice.
“I don’t know. I don’t know. Why can’t everyone just leave us alone.” Shruti cried.
“How far are you? I will reach there in an hour.” Emily said.
“I should reach in half an hour. Why did I leave her alone? Why didn’t she listen to me?” Shruti continued. She have half crying and half gasping for breath. It had been almost two years. Two years of hell that Megha had lived and she had lived it along with Megha.
“Be strong Shruti. Let’s save her first. Today is your last day in that horrible place.” Emily said and cut the phone. Shruti sobbed as she cut the phone. Shruti still remembered the fateful day when their life changed.
Megha and Shruti were going back to their home in the suburbs from the city. Megha was in a coaching class to study for an entrance exam and Shruti took tuitions for students of under class 10th. Shruti had the dream of higher studies but was unable to achieve it and now she was hoping that Megha would be able to achieve those dreams.
Shruti was both proud and a little jealous of her baby sister. Megha would be able to do graduation where Shruti had to content with a measly school education. In addition to that, Megha was the most beautiful girl in their community. Shruti was also hopeful that Megha will be able to find a good boy and get married once her studies were complete. Megha was poised to get the life that Shruti had aspired for herself. The death of their parents had left Shruti with no choice but to leave her dreams.
Shruti wasn’t an unhappy person though. She believed that the world was a good place and she and her sister would be able to carve out their identities in this world.
“How did your studies go?” Shruti asked Megha.
“Today was a little tough. I didn’t understand half the things said by the teacher. I will have to work till late tonight to catch up.” Megha said. This was their daily ritual. Shruti would ask about her studies and Megha would tell her that she would have to study till late night. The reasons changed but Shruti never asked or complained about the lights being on till late night.
“Today, its your turn to cook. So, remember that.” Shruti said.
“Oh yeah. Whaddya wanna to eat?” Megha asked. Megha cooked two days in a week. Shruti had made that rule so that Megha knows how to cook and also because on those two days, Shruti would wash the clothes and thoroughly clean the house.
“I think we can ha….” Shruti’s words were replaced by a scream as a car came and took Megha in front of her.
“SHRUTI!” Megha screamed as she was abducted.
Shruti ran towards the moving van but to no avail. She went to police station, filed a complaint and waited. She didn’t leave the police station for three days. After three days did the police found Megha.
Shruti saw Megha and tears flowed from her eyes. Her beautiful sister looked broken and could barely string three words together. She saw Shruti and immediately fell into her arms and cried. Shruti took her home vowing to take revenge on the people who did this to her sister.
It had been three days since Shruti had gone home. The news of Megha’s abduction and rape had however reached their already. Everyone from her community looked at the two of them with averted eyes. As they passed, they saw a certain revulsion in the eyes of the people who had praised the two for holding fort after their parent’s death.
Shruti hoped that it was initial shock from the people. Unfortunately, it wasn’t so. That night, Megha was dragged from the house in the middle of the night and presented in front of the community elders.
“She can’t stay here. She has shamed our whole community.” One of the elders said.
“But she is a victim.” Shruti said.
“She must have done something to entice those men.” A man said in a weak but steady voice. He was over 70 years old and was considered the wisest member of the community. Shruti didn’t believe that anymore.
“She was kidnapped right in front of me. There is no fault of her.” Shruti said facing the old man.
“This is what happens when girls are sent outside.” An old lady said. She was the only female member in the council of elders. Shruti couldn’t believe what was happening in front of her. The community that was supposed to protect them was accusing her baby sister. Megha was standing in front of them completely horrified.
“You will have to leave this place. We don’t want bad influence on our children.” The council said to Megha.
“Where will I go?” Megha croaked.
“That is not our concern.” The old man said.
“You can stay.” The old lady said pointing towards Shruti.
“No.” Shruti said. “We will both stay. This is our home and you can’t force us to leave our home.”
“Don’t force us.” Another one of the elders said. He was puffing on a chilam and looked ominous.
“You can’t force us to leave our own home.” Shruti said in a loud voice. She was never afraid of such threats. The past few years without their parents had made her tough.
“We can’t guarantee your safety here.” The old woman said. The woman seemed to believe that she was being kind.
“I don’t care.” Shruti said. The next day, she regretted it. Shruti had left Megha at home to go back to work. She had already skipped almost a week and they couldn’t afford that. When she reached home, she found out that some boys of the community had tried to rape Megha. When she resisted, they threw acid on her face. Shruti took a sharp breath when she saw Megha in the hospital. Her whole face was gone and replaced by scar tissues and it looked as if her face has melted. It took over a month for Megha to recover physically.
Megha left her coaching and stayed inside the house which was now reinforced to ensure her safety. No one talked to Shruti or Megha in the community anymore. Megha couldn’t even leave the house. People threw stones at her and shouted at her to leave the place. More than once, Shruti had found her words written on the walls of her house — ‘Witch’, ‘Slut’, ‘Whore’, ‘Leave us’, ‘Go away’.
Shruti herself wanted to leave but she couldn’t afford to leave the place, until Emily came along. Emily ran an NGO and helped Shruti and Megha shift to a different neighborhood, hopefully, a better neighborhood. The situation was getting worse in the community. Everyone had started blaming Megha for the bad things happening to them. She was being considered a witch now.
“Please. We will leave tomorrow.” Shruti told the elders. A child had died a day ago in the community and people were blaming Megha for that.
“We want justice.” The people were crying.
“This is not justice.” Shruti cried. Shruti wept and begged and finally the elders said that she should leave today itself. Shruti told Megha to pack everything and not leave the house and went to ensure that they can move immediately.
One hour. That was how long she had been away from Megha when she had gotten her call.
“Please drive fast.” Shruti said to the driver.
Megha saw that the door was almost broken. She slowly dragged herself towards the inner parts of the house. She hoped to hide in somewhere so that the people don’t find her. She knew that the only way of safety for her was that if Shruti could come in time. Megha picked up a knife and hid in her bedroom. She sat beside the door as she heard the door break.
Shruti reached her house and saw a large crowd in front of it. She prayed that they hadn’t been able to enter the house although what she’ll be able to do, she had no idea. She had only just realised that she was one person against a mad crowd out for blood. Yet, she ran towards her house.
Before she could reach the crowd, she heard cheers from the crowd. Her stomach dropped.
“No.. No.. No..” She muttered and increased her pace. She reached the gate and saw a burly man pulling her sister out of the house. The burly man stood behind Megha with a sword in his hand.
“NO.. LEAVE HER ALONE!” Shruti screamed and ran towards her sister. Megha looked at her and raised her hand towards Shruti. A small smile flickered on her scared face. A smile of hope.
Amidst all the cacophony, Shruti heard the slash of the sword clearly. Even before she could see the sword itself, she heard the sword passing through Megha’s neck.
Everything went silent.