The Thieving Mates

By Shobha Diwakar

They lived together in a slum covered with oozing dripping drains, garbage decked on both sides of the road. Thatched roofs with bits of shredded sacks, and stacks of straw and dung cakes lined with polythene sheets to keep off the rain. Sheru and, Bheekhu an orphan were two great friends. They studied together until the fifth class in the nearby government school, which hardly had any decent facilities. The teachers came and went as per their will and since the classes were irregularly held under a great banyan tree every winter and dreary summer (there were no classrooms with blackboards), except during the monsoon because then the tardy ground was filled with puddles.

It is obvious that the two boys lived in poverty. It was difficult for their parents to make both ends meet. Their struggle for survival was a never-ending feat. The boys were frustrated of their poverty but struggled to be decently clad while going to school with their meager lunch boxes. Days passed by the two boys kept away from the other boys of their own age and became more or less absconding recluses. What went on in their itchy mind was no one’s business. Were they afraid of someone? The parents knew nothing about their doings until one day the police knocked at their door.

Ram Charan (for that was his name), was at home that day. Wondering who could be there, he trudged towards the door. Seeing the police, he staggered a moment then humbly said, ‘ji huzoor.’

‘Tumhara ladka kaha hai?’ (Where is your son)?

‘School gaya hai sa’ab.’

‘Nahi, vo thane mei hai. Hamare saath chalo.’

Frightened about the outcome the father meekly followed the ‘thanedar’ (head police constable), and set off. On arrival, he found both the boys handcuffed and charged with robbery, the booty found in their bags.  Ram Charan stood numb. He had no idea that the boys were robbing while he was sweating to earn a livelihood. His mind hammered as he fell down upon his knees begging the boys to confide the truth and that he was not the father of a thief. Ram Charan had brought up  Bheeku  as his own child. He was now staggered to realize that he had not given the children a good upright upbringing. His world collapsed before him. What was he to answer to his wife?

Suddenly a gruff voice drummed, ‘kya bolna hai?’ (What do you want to say)?

‘Kuch nahi sa’ab,’ and saying so Ram Charan trudged heavily out of the ‘thana’.

It so happened, that Ram Charan was a god-fearing man. The villagers respected him for his hard work and the manner in which he took care of his family. The moment he stepped out of the police station, the villagers asked him what had happened. Even as he narrated the depressing incident, he fell down with a thud and collapsed. Unfortunately, the ordeal had taken his life.

A clamor was soon raised as angry villagers ‘gheroed’ (surrounded) the police station in protest assuming that the police had manhandled Ram Charan.

What happened to the boys? They were severely beaten up by the police and much though the boys pleaded themselves innocent, they were both locked up… until later investigations revealed that the boys were not thieves, their classmate  Shanker, who came from a slightly better off family was mixed up with a gang. For fear of being caught that day (as the theft had been discovered), he had indiscreetly stored the loot in the bags of the two boys.

It is such a pity that the poor are least trusted and often endure intentional abuse while the actual culprits and law- breakers are left scot free because of their muscle power and high approach.

About the Author: Dr. Shobha Diwakar lives in Jabalpur, India and retired as the head of English department at C.P. Mahila Mahavidhyalaya, Jabalpur. She has published many research papers, stories, poems and essays in national, international and online journals. She contributes regularly to writerslifeline and Indian Periodical. Dr Diwakar  servers on the Advisory Board of www.writerslifeline.ca. 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. It’s a beautiful story that teaches us a scary fact of life that innocent & poor get trapped while the real culprits go Scot free especially the ones who belong to an elite group with God father’s…so they know no one can catch them. Money seems to have a greater value than morality

  2. Thank you ASB for your very keen observation. This is happening because it is no longer ‘honesty is the best policy,’ rather now shamefully it is ‘dishonesty is the best policy,’ not only for minor offenses but also major ones
    malya, lalit modi, choksey, kochars and more than dozen others fall into this category
    simply loot the banks and vanish

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