The Day They Called Us Heroes

Posted: December 6, 2012 in Love, Life, Laughter, Social

October 23rd, 2003. Little did I know that morning that the date would remain etched in my mind for ever. Those days, I stayed with my Ajji (grand mom) for over 2 years in her house- a duplex building, very lavish for just the 2 of us in a prime area in Bangalore,  just about 2 miles away from my home. Those 2 years of my life, I wouldn’t call the best, but turned out to be very eventful. Eventful because that stay with my Ajji was during my graduation. Since we were just the 2 of us at home, I had begun to enjoy my new found liberty. No one to question me whether I attended classes or where I went in the evening. What more could a girl of 18 ask for? I had monopolized the first floor of the house – there were three bedrooms, and a big lounge, all of which I had used up totally. One big room was for partying when my friends stayed over, we spent nights eating,dancing and gossiping all night long. The big room had a Jacuzzi and mirrors all over one side of the wall. Perrrfect I should say! Grandma would make her visit upstairs only once in a week or so, just to keep a vigil on the domestic maid and ensure that she was doing her duty well. I despised even this visit of hers, for every time my friends visited and stayed over night, the room would generally be left untidy, with some formidable (in my grand mom’s point of view) things littered around. if at such occasion Ajji paid a visit upstairs, that would generally leave me uncomfortable. The other medium sized room was my study room that contained books, my computer, clothes, work papers, CDs, music system, and other et-ceteras. And the third room was something like a dump yard. If my friends came over at short notice or if we had guests at home, then instead of bothering to clean up the place,I would just dump all the clothes and books that littered around in this room since no one entered this room. This way, tidying my room would effectively take less than 5 minutes. Every evening at 6:30 pm Ajji would religiously visit temple and spend about an hour and a half there listening to religious discourses by several god-men  She would then promptly bring home the prasad(sweetened confection offered to God and later distributed among devotees) to share with me. I would typically return home from college around 6 pm. Ajji would keep something ready for me to eat, prepare tea and leave by 6:30 pm after which all of the 90 min was bliss for me. I had the carte blanche to do as I pleased. I would quickly freshen up and make calls to friends. since I would be alone at home, I didn’t have any restrictions to speak my heart out and loud on phone, be it with my male friends, where occasionally our talks would lead to flirting tit-bits  or with my female friends where we shared our gregarious instincts. There was no cable connection, hence watching TV was not an option (Yeah, its funny the house had a jacuzzi but not cable TV  🙂 ). My only pastime would be to eat, listen to music, apply some face pack on and spend time on phone. Studying was not in the list unless it was exam time.

Once it was an occasion of Diwali, festival of lights. Ajji got invited over by my aunt and needless to say, I would pay a visit to my home and spend the 3 days of the festival there. I was excited about going home to stay over. Although home was just about 2 miles away, its was not very often that I got to stay overnight and spend time with my family. Every evening that I paid a visit at home, mom would make sure I returned to Ajji’s place by 9:30 pm since she didn’t want Ajji to spend nights all alone. Though this got on to my nerves occasionally, I would take solace by reminding myself of all the other benefits I was availing from my stay there with Ajji. So, for  Diwali vacation I packed my bag and kept it ready, Ajji did hers and we were all set to tend to our respective invitations next morning. I had made extensive plans for the 3 festival days. First day, I would get-together with my cousins and burst crackers at Adi’s place, 2nd day was Sachin’s birthday, and he had asked me to come over 2 hours before the other friends turned up for the party so we could plan and prepare for the event, third day, I would spend time with my family, at home. I had to get back to granny’s place the 4th day, so I had to max these 3 days up. As per our plan, the next morning, Ajji and I had breakfast, and secured the house keys (both of us had a set of house keys), and left to our respective destination. The first day at Adi’s house was a blast, we had good memorable fun, I returned home along with my sister late at night.I was too tired that night and craved for a cozy slumber. The next day was Sachin’s birthday, October 23rd. I was supposed to be at his place by 3pm and receive friends at 5 pm. I got ready that morning without wasting much time and called Shruti, my second cousin. I asked her if she was free that morning since I had to buy a birthday card for Sachin, and hoped that she would be a company when I shopped. I bought him a nice lovely card (Sachin had a thing for perfumes, so I already had a Tommy Hilfiger perfume gift-wrapped and ready) and when I was done shopping other random stuff, we started to Ajji’s place. I had made sure that I carried a set of keys with me since the dress I wanted to wear for the party was at Ajji’s house. It had to be my favorite black pencil skirt and a high neck sleeveless snug fitting red and white top, accessorized with my white watch and black shoes for the party. It was already 2:30 pm, and we had not had lunch yet and I was running out of time. I parked my vehicle randomly at the gate, since I knew I wouldn’t be spending much time in there, I only wanted 20 minutes to get ready for the party. Lunch, I had decided, I would skip. I swung the gate open, with Shruti by my side, I hurriedly unlocked the door and entered the hall area of the house. I drew the curtains open, and threw my hand bag on the sofa there, and much to our shock, saw the backyard door open and half ajar. I couldn’t believe what I saw and tried to recollect if we had ensured that we locked the back door before Ajji and I left the house 2 days back. As I talked to Shruti about it, we suddenly realized that the light in the room next to the dining hall was on…Someone was in there!! It took less than a second for us to realize that the house was burgled! We felt a flush of hysteria as we realized and immediately rushed out of the main door and bumped hard into 2 girls who were running towards the gate from the backyard. Next thing we know, all of us yelled wild at the top of our voices and went berserk. The last thing we expected at the heat of the moment was to bump into the burglars themselves! The 2 girls were on their way to escape when they rammed into us by chance, little did they know they would get caught this way. Fear and suspense was driving us insane, but it took no more than a minute to gather all courage for me. I held one of the girls hands and banged her on her shoulder, the other girl tried to defend this girl and make an escapade. As I still held the first girls hand, I elbowed the second girl’s neck. The first girl whose hand I had still firmly held, tried to wrench herself out of my grasp, in vain. Soon she  started speaking to me in a tone as if nothing had happened. She addressed me as Akka(meaning sister, the domestic maids here generally address their masters as Akka or Amma) and said ‘its me, didn’t you realize, your maid servant?’ Ah, Gouri…yes, Gouri she was! It then struck to me that she had worked as a domestic help in recent past for about 3 months. I was hardly at home at her routine time and didnt know much about her except that Ajji occasionally grumbled and expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of work she did. But I did remember yelling at her one day since 2 hundred rupee notes were missing from my closet and I vividly remembered keeping the money there just 2 days prior to the theft. She denied having taken that money as expected, but I wanted to threaten her nevertheless, so that next time if she ever encouraged thoughts of stealing, she should know I am no meek lamb. ‘What the hell are you doing here Gouri?’, I yelled at her, trying to conceal the nervousness in my voice. She said that she was on her way home with her friend, felt very thirsty and decided to stop by my house thinking Ajji would be home to give her some water. She went on to explain that she was aware of the tap in the backyard, and when no one attended the calling bell, she went to the backyard to drink water from the tap, and to her surprise, the door at the back was open. Her explanation to save her skin was a wasted effort, I sensed the sheer palpable lie behind her explanation. Shruti and I felt something fishy, and decided to call the police. I latched the main gate from both inside and outside, prompted Shruti to keep a vigil on both and them and not to let go of them. Shruti held Gouri’s hand tight, as I headed towards the room and took a glance at the state the room was in, shocked to see that they had broken open the almirah and ransacked the stuff inside. I ran to the phone in the dining hall and called the police, narrated the incident and gave them directions. I called my parents as well as my uncle who also stayed near by. In less than 10 minutes, we had the police and the Hoysala (The official patrol van in Bangalore) guys at the door. The police examined the house,ceased the weapons used to break open the door- a chisel, a dagger, an iron rod with sharp edge on one side, all of these from the small lawn that Ajji had maintained in front of the house, a big stone and a knife. It was a well planned burglary. They carefully picked the weapons in a cloth and put them in a cover and sealed them. As one of the police men interrogated Gouri and her companion, a couple of others kept asking us questions to get better clarity. The police called for the fingerprint experts. In the mean while, the news had spread across the street, neighbors flocked into our house to see what had happened. There stood one constable at the back yard door shouting at all these people asking them not to touch the door handle since the fingerprints on the door had to be captured, and those people whose curiosity got better of them stood in the hall staring at the suspects as the police interrogated them, occasionally taking queer glances at us, until the police signaled them to leave. The phone rang, and as I attended the phone call, I took a customary glance at the clock which now showed 30 min past 4 pm. It was Sachin at the other end of the call – ‘where the hell are you, I thought we both agreed that you would be here at 3?!’ I said ‘Sachin! …err, you wont believe what has happened, there’s burglary at my grand mom’s place…the police…you know how it all happened…’ Sachin was in no mood to listen to me, he felt I was making up things for not showing up in time. He said with a stern voice ‘Ok, so you are coming or not?’ I found it very stupid of him to not believe me, especially when so much was happening at my end. I said some investigation was happening and I would try my best to reach by 6 pm.  Even before it occurred to me that I should wish him happy birthday, he cut the call. I returned to the hall with a grin. All eyes were at the 2 girls who were trying hard to convince the police of their innocence. The police suspected that it could not have been possible for the 2 girls to break into the house all by themselves. They felt there was a man behind the breaking open of the back yard door and the Godrej almirah. The news had reached my granny by then. My aunt brought her in an auto rickshaw without giving out all the information about the theft. She was asked to examine and give a list of all the valuables that were missing in the house. She took a good look at the state the the house was in and headed straight to the kitchen. She opened a big container that contained rice and stuck her hand into the rice grains and juggled in there. She then came out and said that a gold chain was missing!! It took me by surprise that she should hide her gold chain in the rice  container and shock to know that Gouri actually knew where Ajji had hid the chain! She must be one hell of a thief, A thought. The police didn’t react too much, for they must have come across many such stories in their career. One of the senior police men who had sat patiently listening to suspects now got up, took the cover containing the weapons in hand and walked straight upto the girls. He started beating Gouri on her hands and legs, saying ‘enough is enough, if you don’t confess, you will be behind bars. I know how to get stuff out of people like you’. Shruti and I closed our eyes as Gouri flinched in pain. I felt police were man-handling the girls and abusing them without knowing for sure if they were the culprits. But the girls were stubborn, they didn’t budge one bit. The police indicated the ladies in plain clothes who had accompanied them to take the girls to the room and frisk them thoroughly. One of the girls carried a purse that yielded an advocate’s number. The police called the advocate to find out if they could get any more information about the girls. It turned out that both these girls husbands were in jail, serving their terms for theft, robbery and burglary. They later found out that these girls were a part of a bigger group that operated in some certain areas in Bangalore. The clock showed 9 pm and thought of the birthday party and Sachin’s disappointment kept haunting me oevery now and then. I knew Sachin was terribly upset with me for not turning up on the big day and didn’t bother to call me again. I felt bad for spoiling his day. The police decided to take the girls to custody, drove them to the J P Nagar police station. Dad, uncle and I followed them in our car to the station. Without wasting much time, the police tied them in a chair and resorted to shock treatment. I spontaneously shrieked out of fear. One of the lady associates sent me out. As I stood outside the station, I simply couldn’t believe the turn of events that had taken place that day. I could see from outside that Gouri and the other girl had bruises on their faces, both of them weeping badly. It all seemed like a movie to me. In less than 15 minutes, the police came out and said that the girls had finally given into shock treatment and confessed that they carried out the crime. The girls had elaborately explained their planning and execution. They had even disclosed their other burglary fiascoes. I was complimented for our presence of mind and courage, which I conveyed to Shruti the next day. The police suggested not to file an FIR, since the girls had admitted their crime and besides, filing of FIR meant that Ajji and I would have to regularly pay visits to the station and court, which neither of us wanted. My parents, uncle and aunt spent the night with us at Ajji’s house. The next morning, one of the police constables came home and returned the gold chain to Ajji and said that Gouri had dropped it in the police jeep on her way to the station, out of fear. He also said that I would be given police protection for a week, in case Gouri’s associates should try to do any harm to me at the least. There after, for a week, I could see the Hoysala van passing by every morning as I waited at the bus stop to take the bus to college, the police man inside occasionally gesturing a hello by waving his hand up in the air with a smile on his face. Ajji gifted me the chain as a token of appreciation for winning it back to her. A couple of weeks later, One of the uncles from the US at a social gathering said that he had mentioned all about our deed in a web site that he maintained and gave us the link to read what all our relatives had said in response to his article. Shruti and I blushed. We giggled among ourselves and felt so shy, we wanted to run away from the gathering, unable to handle attention. We had become the topic of discussion that day and for a couple of weeks after that. Everyone among our relatives seemed to know what had happened on that day, October 23rd, the day they called us heroes 🙂

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Comments
  1. Pradip says:

    You were daring to catch the burglars.. you should have seriously considered joining the armed forces, the IAF… 🙂

  2. Bhargavi says:

    Hey, did this happen during those days when we were doing combined studies at ur ajji mane? I never knew or heard abt this,
    u must be proud to be a hero! 🙂

  3. YVGf says:

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  4. Jyothsna says:

    Hmmmm…very heroic indeed. I remember ajji’s mane. Sometimes you and i would go there for lunch during school days. Lots of New Years memories too 😉

  5. katherinegivens808 says:

    Hello, there! You recently posted on my website, “Katherine Givens.” It is never too late to say thank you! Thank you for the thank you! I like your website.

  6. nabadip says:

    I think the police is always announcing vacancies.Fancy a job?!
    Haha!well done!

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