Jacinta did not take the shortcut this time. The longer route took her five minutes more, and it was full of traffic, but it gave her time to think. She needed to think. Though she was outside the church now, her mind was still on what she had left behind.
Jude Henry Soares, the guy she was reluctant to call her boyfriend, was still an enigma to her. The age difference did not matter to her, but the fact that he was married surely did. But hadn’t he been given a bad deal? His wife was hardly that in any sense; he derived no pleasure, mental or physical from her, mostly because with her advanced diabetes she remained sluggish all the day. Losing three children in later stages of pregnancy also took a toll on her. Soares wanted out, but there was no way he could get a divorce. He had to stick it out with her till death did them apart.
So was it pity that she had for him? Or was it true love? If she had to take the big step tomorrow, she had to know.
But, it was a sin. That she knew for sure. However, she had that warm feeling whenever she thought of him. He took care of her, spoke nicely to her, and what a gentleman he was! He was willing to leave everything and be with her. And he was a devout Christian. That mattered to her too.
However, sin it was. No denying that.
Would her sin make her evil in the eyes of the divine? Did she need to confess, do some kind of penance? And, would that penance entail abandoning the nice man? She just did not know.
She was so consumed by her thoughts that she could almost hear herself speak. Her thoughts became words and the words make noise, and the noise drowned the noise of the traffic around her. At one point, she came perilously close to being in the path of a speeding rickshaw, but it swerved at the right moment and she continued walking.
She sped up because people will be waiting at home.
But she did not know what lay in wait of her.
She was still immersed in her thoughts when she felt the tap on her shoulder. Rudely aroused from her chain of thoughts, she turned behind, and found herself staring at the chest of a very tall man.
“Excuse me, miss,” he said, and she looked up at his face.
She was intimidated by his height and the fact that she could not see his face clearly. This was the lane that led to her house, and there was no one stirring on it. The only sound was of Abba’s Dancing Girl which was playing in some distant house.
“Could you tell me where Cross Road 15 is?” he asked.
His voice was deep, quite a baritone. He moved close to her till she could feel his breath.
“This is Cross Road 7,” she said. “Walk along this path and take the third turning to the right. Then the first turning to the left… or right, maybe. Ask there when you reach.”
He moved still closer. “This is too confusing, miss,” he said. “Thing is, I need to be there soon. It’s really important that I be there soon. Could I walk with you, please?”
What could she do? Her house was just round the corner anyway. She could send her father to go with this man. She walked on. He followed.
It was the last turn and then home.
But, just as her house was about to come in her line of vision, she felt a strong palm around her mouth and nose, and another arm around her belly.
Then she felt something hit her, and she went cold.