“He must be shot in public”, she said. Her eyes overflowing with an anger that emerged from deep within her soul. “If I could take things into my hands, I would pour petrol on him and burn him to death”.

“How many men will you burn?”, I asked.

“I will burn each one of them, not only that – I will burn their families too”, she said.

“Why their families?”

“That is when they will learn what loss means.”

“But is it not unfair to do that?”

“What is fair in keeping that man in jail? Feeding, clothing him? How is that fair to the family of that child? Have you thought about it?”

“But who are we to decide who should live and who should die?” I asked.

“God decides, through us.” she said, in a low and hard voice. “the man is worse than an animal, he has destroyed that child’s life. We must punish him in a manner that will set an example”

“Can’t we find other ways to punish him for what he has done, ways that will set an example also?”

“Would you say the same words, if the child had been yours?”, she asked.

“I don’t know”, I said.

And I really don’t know. I will never know, until the tragedy comes knocking on my doorstep. That is the fact of the matter.

Malar is 65 years old, she works in one of the many high rises that dot this city – relentlessly sweeping the premises, every day – wiping the railings of the staircase clean of the many hands that stain it. She has 6 grandchildren, all of them girls.

About victoranish

A theatre worker living in Bangalore.
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