Fear slowly seeps into the house as night falls. I see it in my father’s haunted eyes. He peers out of the windows looking suspiciously at anyone on the road. He goes around the house drawing the curtains and checking the locks again and again..
Its almost a month since the incident which turned our lives upside down, and shattered our complacence. My father was attacked by a knife-wielding man when he returned home, one night. That it happened on our doorstep, was the first shock. Fifteen years of living in peaceful surroundings with hardly another house in sight, had lulled us into a false sense of security. That it happened to my father, a gentle unassuming man, was the second. None of us really expect anything truly terrible to happen to us. Until it does. All those stories - masked men, armed robberies, knives and guns- happen to other people. We spend one moment ‘tsk’ing in sympathy, maybe a few more in ghoulish curiosity, thank god it wasn’t us and move on.
Guilt and fear-that is the unfortunate lot of the victims. Who realize how whole lives can change in a couple of seconds, that they might spend the rest of their lives trying to recover from those few seconds. That what seems an earth shattering event to them, is lowest in priority to the police - an attempted robbery with no loss of life and only a broken door to show.
There are images that play in my mind over and over again. A masked man, his eyes glittering in the light, holding a knife and a hand around my father’s throat, the normally pristine floors covered with blood from my fathers dripping hands, the front door fallen on the floor ripped from its hinges, the screaming and the silence that followed, my son lying quietly on the bed with blood on the floor all around him.
The endless stream of visitors, come bearing fruit, sympathy and suggestions- sell the house, shift to town, get a dog, get a watchman and so on. Things seem better for a few hours. Yet when they leave, fear seeps in again slowly.
Everyday darkness falls and my father, imagining watching eyes from every window, goes around drawing the curtains, imagining that anyone walking on the road is a potential threat, watches carefully out of every window, imagining that masked men can come through the door any minute, checks the locks again and again.