• 02 Jun - 08 Jun, 2018
  • Nadeem Alam
  • Fiction

A serial killer was on loose. There had been multiple fatal incidents of knife attacks on housewives with no signs of break in or forced entry. The knife being used had a special blade called hawkbill which creates a unique cut pattern.

The local news channels and our community organisation had issued warnings to all housewives not to open doors to anybody in the absence of their husbands. But was it practically possible?

Early in the morning, children go to school followed by the husbands who leave for offices usually by eight. And then a series of people start ringing the bells. First of all comes in the maid, then milkman, the newspaper guy, mailman, vegetable seller and fish vendor. Then there is a chain of persons distributing utility bills, notices, advertisements, leaflets, and then there are couriers, sale representatives, delivery boys, beggars, and the complaint handlers of various services like plumber, electrician and carpenter etc. Not to forget the neighbours who would often come to lend something or have a chit chat.

With the fear spreading fast, housewives had stopped opening doors to everybody less the people they would trust. I live in the same neighbourhood where these incidents were taking place. My husband works in an automobile manufacturing factory. I lived with his parents for couple of months but that house was over crowded. So I asked him to get us a separate place. We were lucky to get an apartment on rent in the same community where his parents also lived. After these incidents, my husband was too worried for my safety. For few days my sister-in-law shifted with us but then I forced her to move back to her parent’s residence. I ensured my husband that I will not open door to anyone at all.

One day, it was only 8:30 in the morning that my doorbell rang. My husband had just left. I looked through the door eye and found my neighbour Sadia standing outside. I was very careful yet I opened the door for her. She walked in very quickly looking at everything in the apartment with curiosity and amusement. We already had interacted couple of times on the stairs but it was first time she came to my home. I offered her a cup of tea which she gladly accepted. She talked and talked and in just one hour told me everything about her family and this neighbourhood.

She lived here with her husband and three children who would all leave early in the morning and then she would go back to sleep till her maid arrived at about 11. She had read lot of spy novels so we also had an interesting discussion on knife incidents in the area. She believed the milkman to be the prime suspect who would sit at the door and would always try to peek inside. Moreover, he was the only male vendor who visited most of the houses on daily basis. She had also learnt that he was arrested by police and interrogated but released after few days due to lack of evidence. In her opinion, nobody leaves evidence behind in such cases. Many housewives had stopped taking milk from him and were now buying it from the market. It was not before my cat Lucifer walked into the sitting room that Sadia jumped on the sofa first and then ran outside.

Soon after she left, the bell rang again. I looked through the door eye and it was the milkman. I took milk from him couple of times before but I had discontinued it due to its poor quality. He rang the bell again. Lucifer was now rubbing himself with my feet. I paused and then opened the door. There he was with his head bent down and with a shivering voice he requested me to test the milk free for few days. I thought for a while and then went inside to the kitchen leaving behind the door wide open. I unlocked the upper shelf and took out an empty pot from behind my special set of hawkbill knifes and walked back to the main door. •