"How bad is she?"
"She's critical, ma'am. It's too early to tell. She's lost a lot of blood."
"Can we see her?" the victim's father repeated, speaking with forced stoicism he hoped would keep his despair at bay.
"Is she going to survive?" her sari-clad mother said, making no effort to hide her panic.
"We just need to see her," her father said.
"Of course. Please, come," the doctor said.
"Oh, beti, what have we done?" Her father had told himself, he had promised himself, his wife, his son and his supine daughter that he would not cry. It was a silent promise, a favour he had begged from God - not to cry, to be strong for his family and himself - and there he was letting everyone down, crying like a child at the feet of his little girl's inert, beaten body. Through his sobs he said, "I should never have agreed to you setting up... setting up a... that company... that damn company... on your own... going in... going into offices... Oh beti, going into offices... and meeting all sorts of --"
"Nonsense! The police should have listened to her, that's what," her mother said, sobbing as she spoke, wiping her daughter's bandaged brow. "This is that boy, that's what! Oh, meri bachchi, my poor sweet, beti! It's that boy she fired. He misbehaved with her the day she reprimanded him and said all that threatening nonsense to her... The dirty...! I told her then she should fire him long before she did. Then she tells us he keeps calling her and calling her and... and saying crude and inappropriate things to her and... and the police pay no attention, no attention...!"
"Stop it, both of you!" whispered a young man, standing at the entrance of the room with his fists over his mouth as if he were in front of a gruesome car crash he couldn't bear to look at yet couldn't move away from. "You think she can't hear? The doctors said she most probably could. Now save it for the police and get it together!" He punched his fists together and walked slowly towards his sister. "Hey chhoti, behen, haan meri behen, you'll be fine, chhoti, haan..."