Ranga is no criminal.It is just that he had fallen into bad days.He was working in a petrol bunk as an assistant.The job was on night shift.Not a big job but It suited him and everything went well.His basic needs were met from the meagre income and occasional tips when he offered to help in filling air/gas and do minor vulcanizing work.
He had this nasty habit of frequently exploring his ear with bits of paper rolled like a bud.It itched him always and the habit could not be broken.It was one night around 1am a sports car drew up and a woman in her early twenties stopped the car before the small bunk where he was sitting reading a comic and exploring his ear..She was smoking a cigarette and when she got down he could see from her swagger that she was heavily drunk.
“Yes, ma’am what can I do for you?” he asked
“Plenty of things, young man.You have a good physique and winsome look”
“You need gas.How much?”he asked ignoring the hint
“I don’t need gas.I need you” she said with a smug smile
“Leave me alone.Please do not disturb me". he said politely
She suddenly hugged him tight with her white dress coming into contact with his soiled blue uniform smelling petrol.When he wriggled out and shouted “Get lost” a patrol car just then screeched to a halt at the bunk.
“Mister, please help me.I requested him to fill gas and he started acting fresh. Smell my dress if you need any proof” she pleaded
He lost his job and his freedom for a while.It was difficult to find anything new with this background.He as extremely hungry as he had not taken even a morsel since previous night.l.He could find only 50 cents when he rummaged his shelf.He saw the toy gun he had found in the park a few days back.It looked so real that he smiled when an idea struck him.
Mrs. Lal who lived a few houses away and who as social service distributed prasad to the devotees at the temple had seen him always jumping the queue and scrambling ahead of others to get the prasad.He would even try to get twice.She had admonished him many times and had no good opinion of him with his bristle and much worn dress in tatters.He also thought that when his turn came ,she gave him deliberately lesser than usual quantity she gave others.The dislike was mutual.
It was 8pm and he disguised himself with a black goggle, a false .moustache, and a dark cloth hiding his face except the eyes.He knew that the old woman was alone.He gently tapped the door and shouted delivery boy from Pizza corner marked to this address.When she opened,he pushed her inside and said in a whisper ”Shhh………”keeping his fingers on mouth with left hand holding the gun.”I know you are an intelligent lady and would not like to get hurt.Give me the wallet”
The old woman could hardly recognise him.She was scared stiff and muttered pulling enough courage “Please do not kill me.The wallet is in almirah.I will fetch it,I promise”
When she dragged herself slowly, he had the nasty itch in his ear.he took a scrap of paper from his pocket ,rolled it and twirled inside his ear.When she came with wallet,he dropped the paper and still pointing the gun he took just two hundred rupees and returned the wallet.She was surprised but did not utter one word.
“Thank you, Ma’am.You are safe.Just sit down without making noise.I will be gone.Please do not open doors to strangers in future” he said
He thanked his stars and the gun for his luck and the easy job accomplished.he was particularly happy that he avenged her for admonishing him in the temple always.He patted himself for the fool proof job done fast leaving no clues behind.
As he was eating the Biriyani he had bought, he heard a sharp rap on the door.He found two policeman.One of them asked him”Are you Ranga? Where were you about a hour ago?Did you visit the old woman Mrs. Lal and rob her threatening with the gun.Give it immediately”
“I am Ranga alright But I never stirred out of the house except to get biriyani.Why should I visit any woman..I have no gun” he coolly replied
The poiliceman drew from his pocket a crumpled scrap of paper.This is a bill from pharmacy with your name and address.We found it in Mrs. Lal’s house.
Ranga decided to use ear buds and never again a scrap of paper for exploring the ear.