A Humorous Theft

Anything done for the first time is difficult, and if it is theft, it is bound to create tension and anxiety and ungainly situations even stupid and humorous.

He at last decided to go for it. He had been delaying this decision in the hope that his situation will improve, but it did not. He was living the most stressful period of his life. One time he used to be a jolly fellow full of energy, joy and happiness. But, since last one year all that changed, worries and anxiety took over his life. Suraj was in his early twenties and after passing ten classes had been looking for job without any success. His father worked as a worker in a factory and had three school going younger sisters. His mother died three years back and his father contracted another marriage last year. He had been under a lot of pressure to start earning from his father, and even more from his step- mother. He received daily taunts from her about doing nothing, especially at the time of having breakfast or dinner. At the time of lunch he would be out looking for work, and daily came back empty handed and with empty stomach in the evening. His life has become miserable, full of tension and frustration. For a few weeks he had been thinking about ending his search for work, and instead resort to something else to earn livelihood. It was nothing else than start stealing and becoming a thief. His conscience would deter him from going that way, but the way his step- mother treated him a day before, convinced him to go for the decision. She told him that he was a burden and if nothing else he must earn for his breakfast and dinner.

He made a plan for his first theft. First if all he would decide about the location, then the house and finally when and how to implement the plan.

He was living in a poor suburban area, which he ruled out completely due to lesser chances of getting anything substantial as well as danger of being recognized. Going to very far off places was also not feasible due to lack of proper logistics and so were the posh areas in view of their strong security. The best place would be not very far off or very near, abode of middle class, but sparsely populated. It was very difficult to penetrate the densely populated areas with adjoining houses and lot of people movement at night. After some effort he was able to find a new colony still under the construction phase having few houses mostly at different places. It was far enough from his house, yet near enough to reach in an hour or so by foot. The next step was to select the house and to know about the inhabitant. He had a round of the place keeping in view the objective of safer and easy access for entering the house. As construction work was underway, he rejected houses very near to it to avoid being seen by the labor. At last he settled for a house which stood alone and at a considerable distance from other houses. He then decided to know about the inhabitant. It was a difficult job which took him three days and finally came to know that it belonged to a second hand clothes merchant, Haji Abrar. After getting the information he decided to have a final round of the place to plan for his first venture. He was surprised to see a heap of cement lying next to the left side of the house. It meant soon construction would start at that place also, which convinced him to complete the job immediately. Going around the house he found the left side was the safest as compared to others keeping in view the nearest house as well as absence of street lights in the vicinity. At that side there was a big window with a cemented plank cover at a distance of about one third from the roof with the plank about 9/10 feet from the ground. Towards its right at a distance of about 3/4 feet was a sewerage pipe going to the roof, but broken 6/7 feet from its bottom end.

To him the window overhead plank or the sewerage pipe were the only way to reach the roof. If he somehow reached the plank easily then better part of the job would be done and he then can shift to the pipe to cover the remaining distance to the roof. While going back to his house he continued to think and suddenly he got a wonderful idea. Why not hire a bicycle for the night and use it to reach the plank by parking it beside the wall next to the window and use its career to climb on to the plank. This would help him in going back quickly and also minimize exposure to harsh winter cold. He decided to get some money from his father. It was not possible at the house, therefore he waited for him on his way back from factory.

He told him that he needed the money to hire a bicycle as he had to go to the Railway Station to meet his friend who was coming to the city at past midnight and it was too far away from the house. After a few advises about doing something he did gave the money with the condition that he would neither tell his step- mother nor bring the bicycle at home. Siraj agreed, went straight to home, put on black Pant, shirt, a sweater and black shawl, took a torch with him and went out without giving his step mother any chance of seeing him. He hired a bicycle from a nearby shop and went to a big park to kill time and prepare for the night’s job. He kept on roaming in the park, taking deep breaths and whistling famous songs until the park security staff told him to leave at the closing of the park, He looked at the watch it was 9 PM . He was feeling cold and according to his plan decided that it was time to eat something with hot tea to get energy and also spend more time. After arriving at a road side tea stall he ordered biscuits and hot tea. He had got some extra money from his father in the garb of bicycle-hire and that was coming handy. After half an hour he gave order for another cup of tea and left the place after consuming one and half hour. Originally he had planned to reach the target-house by quarter past mid-night, but he changed his mind and decided to go earlier as he thought in winter night starts earlier and few people are out even at 11 PM. He slowly moved towards his target. He was at the place at 11.25 PM and on the way did not find many people on the road. There was complete silence and darkness at the place. In the light of his torch he was surprised to see changes at the scene of expected crime. In addition to heap of cement he found a good quantity of brick as well as some wooden planks. It appeared that construction would start soon. According to his plan he parked his bicycle besides the wall between the window and sewerage pipe and looked upwards towards the window overhead cemented plank. It looked to him higher from the career of bicycle than he had anticipated. But, he had no other option as the sewerage pipe was broken and to reach the bottom end also required something to stand on so why not try the safer route of the window plank. By putting both his hands on the seat he climbed on to the carrier, and after a few seconds stretched his hands upward towards the window plank. There was still about six inches distance between his hands and the plank. He decided to jump and get hold of the plank. He did, but he could not grip the plank properly and came tumbling down the ground taking bicycle with him. There was a little thud when he fell, but not loud enough to be heard in the house. He felt bruises on his leg and stood up with some difficulty. He put both his hands on the waist and started thinking about his next move. He decided to use the pipe to reach the roof although it was broken and looked dangerous. Suddenly, on seeing the bricks he got the idea of using them for the purpose, instead of bicycle. He removed the bicycle and started putting bricks one over the other on two sides between the window and the pipe. After putting twelve on each side he put a wooden plank over them with the help of bicycle using its height and then transferred himself to the wooden plank from the bicycle. Next step was from wooden to cemented overhead window plank. It took some effort to balance him on the plank he was standing in and at the same time to climb to the upper plank, but as this time his palms were touching the planks front side he gripped it strongly and pushed him up to reach the plank. In the next move he shifted himself to the sewerage pipe, and then used his childhood expertise of climbing trees to reach the roof crawling using both his hands and feet. Once on the roof safely he heaved a sigh of relief and started to look around. There were few broken chairs, one damaged water tank and some empty flower pots lying there. Towards the left was an iron- door and towards the extreme right corner a big iron box sitting on bricks. He moved to check the door. He pushed it slowly, but it appeared to have been locked from inside, closing his chances of moving inside the house from the roof. He had already checked the front and side areas and found that there were no way to enter from there. As he was not an experienced thief he did not have the gadgets to somehow open or cut the door to move in.

He then moved towards the big box. He opened it slowly to avoid making any voice. Inside the box he found clothes of different size and kind, looking to be of second hand quality. As the occupant of the house was a second hand clothes merchant there was nothing surprising.

“So Mr. Siraj, you can only steal these second hand clothes, this is it,” he said to himself. He started picking shirts and pants of better looking quality. Thereafter, he spread his black shawl on the roof and started putting clothes on it, but then stopped. He thought it dangerous to carry the clothes in that manner as it would be very much visible and draw attention. In the alternate move he took off the clothes he was wearing in the biting cold and hurriedly wore five shirts and two pants one over the other and then selected the best coat and also put it on. The cold reduced to a great extent, but moving became difficult. He threw his own clothes and shawl inside the box, closed it and moved towards the place from where he entered the roof. He looked downward with the help of his torch and did not see any change. Due to his heavy weight he decided to use only the pipe route. Slowly and with difficulty he started his downward journey this time using his feet first. It took him sometime to reach the ground level after jumping in the last part where the broken pipe started. Fortunately he had the cement heap to jump into to avoid any hurt.

He quickly got his bicycle ready and soon was on his way back, but the weight of his clothes was making it difficult to maintain the balance and he had to exert himself fully to keep it moving. Soon he could feel perspiration down his neck in the cold weather.

It took him ten minutes to reach the main road. After another twenty minutes as he was turning towards the right to take a connecting road misfortune struck, a dog appeared from nowhere and attacked him. He fell down and started crying for help. The dog was biting him, but due to the layers of several clothes he was wearing its teeth could not reach his skin and was saved from its bite. His crying attracted a police van and the three policemen inside the van rescued him from the dog. He was still lying down thinking that he was saved from the dog, but who would save him from the police.

“What are you doing at this hour of night fat man,” one of them shouted, but then realized that it was not fat which made his belly big, but layers of clothes visible through the openings made by the dog’s teeth.

“Stand up you and tell us who you are,” ordered another Policeman.

He stood up and the policemen took him near to the light emanating from their vehicles head light to observe him closely. On seeing his humorous disposition one of them burst into laughter.

“Are you a joker, look at yourself what the hell you are doing at this hour, wearing so many clothes, it looks there is something fishy,” one of them said in a harsh tone.

“I am going back home after work, and wearing too many clothes to avoid cold.” he replied.

“Don’t lie, do you consider us fool , we are not here to watch a Humor Show or to listen to your joke, tell us the truth otherwise,” he did not complete the question.

“What do you do,” another Policeman enquired.

“I work in a factory,” he replied

“What is its name”? next question came abruptly.

He gave the name of the factory his father was working.

“You are a liar you could wear sweaters instead of so many shirts, tell us or we would take you to the police station where you would tell everything, “ the senior-looking policeman announced his decision.

Siraj wilted under the pressure and in a state of fear and anxiety thought that it was time to tell the truth to save him from the threatened ordeal. He told them the entire story from lack of job to step-mother’s behavior and finally his first theft and started weeping.

“OK we believe your story, but you have committed a crime and have to pay for that.” one of the policeman said.

“I have nothing to pay I am a destitute as I told you earlier,” Siraj replied.

“OK leave this bicycle here, arrange Rs2000/ come to the Police Station and take it back that is what we can do for you,” the senior-looking policeman declared.

Siraj had no option, but to say yes and started his long trek back home on foot.

He arrived at about 3 AM in the morning and knocked the door slowly and was surprised that it was opened immediately by his father who was anxiously waiting for him. He took him to one side and asked why he was wearing so many clothes. Siraj requested him to wait for the morning when he would tell everything as he was too tired and wanted to sleep. His father told him to come to the factory he was working at the closing time, because in the morning he would have gone for work.

The next day Siraj did as directed by his father and when they met he told him everything in detail. His father was very angry and told him to leave his house as he was an honest person and did not want a thief in his house. But, Siraj’s rolling tears softened him and he told him to return the clothes and contact the bicycle owner and ask him how much amount he had to pay as compensation for the bicycle as he would never give money to policemen, but would somehow arrange money to be paid to the bicycle owner.

“But, what if Haji Abrar handed over me to the police? Siraj asked

“That’s your luck,” his fathered replied.

Siraj went to the bicycle owner and informing him that that the bicycle had been snatched and enquired about the compensation. The owner demanded Rs 3000/.

The next day Siraj reached Haj Abrar’s house at 9 AM. He himself met him at the door and asked who he was, and what was the purpose of his visit. Siraj requested him to allow him in as he wanted to discuss some matter with him. Haji Abrar took him to his drawing room. Siraj told Haji Abrar what had happened and handed over the clothes to him. He apologized and asked for forgiveness. Haji Abrar kept quiet, and then called someone from inside the house. When that person came he said something in his ear and he went away. Siraj was shaken with the fear that the person had gone to call the police and started shivering, repeating his requests for pardon. Haji Abrar kept quiet. After some time the person came back with a cup of tea and a bundle. He put the cup in front of Siraj, opened the bundle and took out Siraj’s clothes and shawl and hand it over to him. After Siraj had completed drinking tea Haji Abrar stood up, took out a visiting card from his pocket and gave it to Siraj saying that he should meet him the next day at his shop and he would arrange a job for him. Siraj with tears in his eyes fell down at his feet and thanked Haji Abrar profusely, who remain quiet all the time. Siraj eft the house with a strange feeling of guilt, remorse, surprise, resentment and relief. He could not believe what had happened. What he did to Haji Abrar and what Haji Abrar did in reply made him realize that all is not bad, and there are still good people in the society.

By: Tasneem Hameed

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