The year is 1986, early March. We live in a first floor dupleix 3 bedroom DDA colony flat, close to the colony gate. Like thousands of Delhi families our home bustles with activity each day. My father like many other middle income service people must trudge to office daily to earn an honest living. My mother has chosen her children as her priority over her job and is home when we leave for school and home when we get back, doing translations and editing part time each morning. She grows money plant in odd bottles, tidies after us, feeds us an innovative lunch (chicken in a basket is my favourite), gets homework on the front burner, reads to and with us, limits our tv viewing and encourages talking to each other instead.
My parents have the big bedroom beside the dining room on the first floor. The stairs curve upward from just next to their bedroom to the second floor. At the top of the stairs is a long thin corridor with a bedroom on the right and a bathroom in front. Turning left onto the corridor leads to my very own bedroom. After all at nearly 11 I am a big girl now and this merits my own space. The corridor has a wall on the right but the left is open and at night if I creep into the corridor and look down through the railings I can look right into the dining/TV room for the reassuring bulk of my parents. There is a balcony on the left just before my room and another smaller one leading off my bedroom. My bedroom isn't very big but it has a little store room attached to it which is full of boxes, suitcases and other stuff clearly not immediately needed. Mostly I like to think of my room with its many doors as my own apartment. I even make Nik knock on the door if he comes up to call me or play.
The news says that the murderer Charles Sobhraj has walked out of Tihar jail after drugging his prisoner and guard friends. If it is that easy what chance do any of us have? Tihar jail is at one end of Delhi. Since he escaped into Delhi and is most likely trying to get to the otherside of Delhi to avoid capture it is not unlikely that he is headed straight for our house. I am in Delhi, he is in Delhi, my house is the safest place I know, surely he must be hiding here!!! In the BOXROOM! on either of the BALCONIES! under MY BED! in MY CUPBOARD! OMG he is going to kill me next. Nothing will convince me to go upstairs on my own. Each time I go up a parent must accompany me. Fearless 4 year old Nik is not enough. To get my uniform, to bathe, to get my school books, to get my shoes etc. etc. etc. - I want a parent tail. And I will most certainly not sleep upstairs. Why heavens, he could burst in and stab me in my sleep! My parents bed seems like the best possible safe haven and that is where I shall stay till he is captured. Or I forget about him.
This is the life of an overimaginative child. Who has no 24 internet or TV newsfeed to update her on his whereabouts or hunt and capture in Goa. Only the once nightly Doordarshan news or the Times of India newspaper to wait for, to make the world a safe place once again.