I am no hard core criminal. I neither assault people nor touch my victims. I just pilfer whatever I can easily conceal in my pocket. The modus operandi is simple. I wear neatly pressed clothes and well polished shoes. My handsome face, curlish hair, my good height and soft speech give some respectability. I have a computer with CorelDraw facility and I make laminated identity cards to suit my purpose. One day I would be a census enumerator, another day market surveyor or a fund raiser for charitable causes, and some days I don ochre robes on behalf of fake religious institutions. I used to wonder at my own bewildering variety of disguises.
I choose the afternoons when the sun is severe for my work. Where I find many inmates in a house I move away quickly. Where the ladies or old men are alone and gullible enough to invite me to the living room for enumeration or survey, I take casually a quick look at the hall. Then with a sigh I take my kerchief for wiping the perspiration and make a request for a glass of cool water. When they are away to fetch it, I quickly pocket whatever is not prominent and what I can easily lay my hands on.. After pleasantries and a quick survey I make a fast move to another complex slightly away. If I am lucky in one house I usually stop the activity for the day. This was adequate for the day’s expense. You see, I am no greedy person.
Today being my birthday, I wore a blue jeans and a new colorful T shirt with cream and brown stripes. But the first house I visited could not be considered ideal though the young lady was alone and credulous. But there was hardly anything of value in the hall save her cheap mobile .I try hard not to leave empty handed and had to filch the cell phone. After drinking water, I left in a hurry after giving her some form to fill in and telling her that I would collect it the next day..
When I rang the bell at the next apartment that I visited in the adjacent street, an attractive young lady in her early thirties was talking on her mobile. When she saw me there was a look of surprise, may be attracted by my personality enhanced by my new clothes. She smiled at me, opened the grill door for me to enter and said “Just one second”. She talked for a couple of minutes more and concluded saying”OK,I have a visitor. I will talk to you later”.
The apartment looked rich with showcase brimming with all curios and costly clocks, crystal wares, ivory idols of gods and many other things. When I started with the usual refrain about a glass of water, she asked “Coke, Orange or Sprite?” I gave her my charming smile and said “Anything you offer me”
As she went in to bring the cool drink, I quickly pocketed a few things when the wretched mobile rang. It was not mine but the one I stole at the other house. It started singing in shrill and loud tone an old tune of RajKapoor in Shri 420 ”Mera jootha hai Japani,ye patloon Englishthani..” Before I could remove it from my pocket to silence it, the lady came out smiling and said “What an old tune you have installed?”She saw the other mobile in my hand and said ‘You seem to have two”
I offered a weak explanation it was my wife’s and I had brought it for some minor repair. Meanwhile two burly security men of the complex entered.The lady’s smile faded and she asked the security not to allow me to escape.”Mister, I knew you are a fake. Your earlier visit was unfortunately to my friend’s flat. She was telling about you and your stealing her mobile. We never knew you would come here. Lucky for her and me, you came to my place and I rang her number to make sure you are the culprit. The mobile whose tune I knew gave you away. Give back the things you pocketed here. The security men would hold you till the police arrive to take you”
As I swore under my tongue “You bloody b***h”, she laughed hysterically at my sorry plight.