She set out for the evening stroll in the park. It was her quotidian ritual, which was sacrosanct except for the rains.
“Granny, don’t venture out. The killer is on the loose”, cautioned Anne with her cheeks full of pimples while playing on the cobbled path.
“Who will harm an octogenarian?” she consoled herself.
The mysterious murders baffled the public, press and the Police. The Fourth Estate sensationalized the incidents. The common-man had to curtail his movements after dusk. The long arm of the law could not catch the culprit/s nor zero on the motive/s.
The patrolling increased. Kids were corralled indoors.
Sector 21 was a quiet, middle-class neighbourhood with each knowing the other. The spate of killings in recent months shook each branch in the residential area.
Margaret ambled towards the Park. The December air was pleasant but she had wrapped a shawl around her shoulders. The financial capital of India is a stranger to winters and woollens.
However, Margaret did not want to take a chance. A slight nip in the air would bring in bouts of sneezing. Therefore, the scarf was her accomplice and partner.
She found a bench under the tree away from the prying eyes. People would not leave an elderly woman alone, she complained. Not all senior citizens needed company. She opened her book and a bookmark helped her to start reading from where she had left last time.
Reading was her passion. She gelled with the characters of the pages and found company.
She exercised in the confines of her house and performed yoga. Her agility defied her age and she possessed the stamina of a horse. Carrying a heavy bound book was no problem for her.
She was engrossed in her book when she felt the rustling of paper. She looked up from her reading glasses to see a man smiling behind the newspaper, sitting on the other end of the bench.
He continued shifting uneasily on his seat. He cleared his throat to attract attention. She must be deaf, he concluded.
“The serial killer is hogging the limelight in the newspaper. Scary isn’t it?”, he said nervously, putting his newspaper down and turning his body towards her.
She rolled her eyes and continued with the characters in the book. He tried his luck again with small talk. She closed the book, ‘How to get rid of toxic people’ with a bang. She suddenly felt hot. She loosened the shawl and her demeanour changed.
He lay motionless on the bench. Her eyes fell on the bold letters, ‘ Serial killer’ of the paper he was reading and she chuckled. The gust of breeze sent the newspaper flying like a kite until it disappeared from her sight.
She wrapped the shawl around her shoulders, her accomplice and partner-in-crime.
“Granny, back so soon?”
“Shoo away”. “Let me be left alone”, she muttered.
Margaret had pushed Liza into the swimming pool at the age of eight. And she never looked back.
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