That was the last local. There were very few passengers in the train. Ravi had a hour’s journey to make. He chose a corner of the compartment to snatch some sleep. At the next station someone had boarded the train and came straight to the corner Ravi had chosen. There were four or five scattered passengers towards the other end.
“Lucky I could get into this train. I am told this is the last one”, he said
Ravi just nodded as he did not like this interruption to his sleep. But the fat man had other ideas and possibly wished to chat during the entire journey.
“Do you take this last train daily? Are you working somewhere?” he asked.
“Yes, I work in an IT company and usually take the earlier train. I was held up today”
“Good. I know IT companies pay very well for the hard work you people put in and work only five days. You must be married and living with your family”
Ravi did not respond and looked out at the passing lights and cars.
“I am sorry if I had asked you personal questions. I cannot resist asking as I have one qualified younger sister to be married.”
“It is okay. I am single and living alone.”
“Where do you live? I am in Egmore”
“I am also in Egmore” Ravi said with a smile
“I live in the first floor of the house adjacent to Hotel Simha.It is close to railway station”
“Won’t you be disturbing your land lord going at this late hour?”
“No, there is separate staircase and entrance on the side. He may not even know when I come or go.”
“Being alone how do you spend time?”
I have my desktop, laptop, iPad, a small TV, DVD and musical instruments like guitar. I I enjoy myself with these” said Ravi
“It is surprising we haven’t met so far. Any way please excuse me, I have an urgent call to make. Nice to meet you” said the fat guy and went to a vacant seat two empty rows behind
Ravi closed his eyes relieved that he had been let off by the bore so soon.
A short while later the fat guy dialed some number and talked almost in a whisper. Ravi thought he was considerate to him thinking he was asleep.
“Pandi, listen carefully. I am travelling in train and cannot talk loudly. One guy is beside me sleeping. I mentioned to you about that house in Ekattuthangal.I went to that area to inspect as there was some complaint about signal being weak. I assumed it was that house” and stopped talking turning to Ravi’s side. Finding Ravi sleeping he continued in very low voice”There was none in that house as no one answered the bell. I went to the rear side to see whether anyone was there. Finding none and curiosity overtaking me, I gently pushed the rear door. To my great surprise it opened and the house bore no semblance of occupation.”
Ravi pretending to be asleep strained his ears to listen as the telephonic talk became intriguing.
“I am telling the truth, Pandi.It is no reel (imaginary falsehood).I gingerly walked in inspecting each room. They must be rich with all floors carpeted, top class furniture, curios etc.I was careful not to touch anything. Are you listening, Pandi? Here comes the important part. I swear you will not believe what I am going to tell you”
Ravi could not contain his curiosity and strained every nerve to catch the conversation.
The fat man continued on the phone.”I went inside one large bedroom. There were three Godrej Almirahs.I suddenly panicked. What if someone comes and catches me in the house, I wondered. I would be branded a thief and handed over to police. Then I thought having come this far why not see a little more. I tried to open one almirah.It did not open. Then I tried the other. That too did not budge. When I tried the third, lo, it opened. In my inquisitiveness, I opened the locker door and to my utter amazement it was also unlocked.
Believe me, there were wads and wads of currency notes may be running into several lakhs or crores in higher denomination. Must be ill gotten money stashed away, I presumed. I just took two wads as I had an apprehension it could be counterfeit as otherwise who would leave it unsecured. I closed the doors and left them as it was wiping the handles of any finger print. Without telling the source, I had two notes from each of the bundles checked by my bank friend. He said they were genuine.”
He turned to Ravi’s side and found him to his comfort snoring softly. “Pandi, listen carefully. Tomorrow sharp at 7am we will be there. As you come from the main road it is the third Street to right. There is a post box opposite the cream colored house. There are vacant plots on both sides. The fence is green shrubbery. Bring a sturdy bag with you. We should not be greedy and take a small portion each time.Good, so you will be there at 7 am sharp tomorrow.”
He saw Ravi in slumber and nudged him when the train reached Egmore station. Both got down and went their separate ways.
Ravi set the alarum at 5am and left in his motorbike by 530 next morning to Ekattuthangal to steal a march over the fat guy and his accomplice. The directions were so clear, he thought, if the job were done smoothly, he would be rich. He was there by 6 am but could find no house with vacant plots on either side or one with a green fence or a post box in the road. Could it be 2nd street or 4th street? He roamed hither and thither till he finally gave up his hunt.
When Ravi returned home disappointed and climbed the stairs tiredly, he found to his shock the door ajar and every little thing in his place taken away.