Rat Killers

black binoculars

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Abhay jumped down from the window sill and ran. “No… don’t take left, take right, its darker there,” Purvi whispered into his ear. “You idiot, if we get caught, I will put all the blame on you. Now stop running and duck in the dark corner of building A.” Abhay lost it all and shouted, “stop your running commentary in my earpiece and get into action, distract Muchchad Singh while I finish the rest of the job.” Purvi giggled and jumped off from her perch. She loved harassing Abhay when they were in the middle of their crime weeding expeditions.

Abhay and Purvi are a retired, middle-aged couple. Retired from both work and raising kids. Both their boys had gone off to college and they had taken an early retirement from their fast-paced professions – Abhay from international crime reporting for a leading news channel and Purvi from her post of special senior analyst at RAW (Research & Analysis Wing, India).

The initial retirement days they thought were bliss, no rush for office and last-minute official trips. No boys to run after and take care of. But retirement started feeling like jail since they craved for excitement and intellectual stimulation.  One evening, Purvi, the more dramatic of the two, came up with the idea of neighborhood crime fighting. She even came up with a name for their operation – “Rat-Killing”. Abhay was a little skeptical at first, but once they started researching their neighborhood, he was as excited as Purvi.

Abhay and Purvi lived in a huge gated-community housing 20 plus condominiums. To observe the families and people around them, they began their research by taking evening and morning walks in their compound. In order to get the stories of the people around them, Purvi befriended the maid servants and dhobi, while Abhay befriended the security guards and the grocer in their community.  And soon, within just a month, they had their first case. Purvi had just found out from her maid that Mr. Bunty Ahluwalia had probably beaten up his wife, because Mrs. Preeti Ahluwalia had some bruising on her shoulder which she was trying to hide with her sari. Purvi, had met Preeti a few times in the lift and always thought of Preeti as a sweet, docile lady.

Purvi decided to do a little snooping on her own, so she quickly baked a cake and went to Preeti’s apartment. Preeti was surprised to see Purvi at her doorstep, but before Preeti could say anything, Purvi entered the house and started off, “Hello Mrs. Ahluwalia. How are you doing? I was in a baking mood today and so I baked a few cakes. Your Chintu likes cakes, he was telling in the lift the other day, so thought I’ll bring him one.” As she perched on the sofa she noticed the hesitation on Preeti’s face but ignored it and continued her chatter until Preeti was comfortable and opening up. Just like any mother, Preeti was engrossed in singing praises of her kids and so didn’t notice Purvi’s keen eyes taking stock of her tired and disheveled appearance. As Preeti went into the kitchen to get some snacks, Purvi followed her and knowingly bumped into her, dislodging her sari. Purvi immediately saw the red welts on Preeti’s shoulder and asked, “Oh my! What happened to your shoulder?” Preeti was flustered, she quickly covered up her shoulder and brushed aside Purvi’s query with some innocuous answer.

This was all the confirmation Purvi needed. The Rat-Killers spent the next couple of weeks befriending the Ahluwalias and researching them some more. While Purvi worked her magic on Preeti, Abhay found reasons such as sports and jogging to bond with Bunty. Abhay found out about Bunty’s temper and ultra-traditional outlook by chatting with the grocer. Abhay and Purvi decided to put into motion the final step of their plan.

One early morning, when Bunty was jogging in the park, Abhay followed him at a distance. As he was about to step out of the shadows, he spotted Muchchad Singh – the milkman and contacted Purvi on his ear-piece and asked her to leave her binoculars and come quickly to distract Muchchad Singh. Once the milkman was out of the way, Abhay resumed his watch on Bunty and waited for him to reach the lonely corner of the park, where he covered Bunty with a blanket, beat him up nicely and stole his iPhone to make it look like a robbery. Bunty was shocked, but couldn’t do anything except limp home with a huff.

Fifteen minutes after Bunty reached home, Abhay and Purvi went to their house. As soon as Preeti opened the door, Abhay started huffing and puffing, and with great panache presented the iPhone to Preeti. They went inside the house and on the pretext of helping out Bunty, they gave him a good lecture on how he should treat the incident as God’s admonishment for his past sins and be thankful that he was alive.

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Sneaking Out

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It was past 2AM, Minie slowly crept out of the bed, quickly stuffed her bag, winked at herself one last time in the mirror and started climbing down the stairs. She had been planning this escape since two days so silently and quickly, she walked past the living room and turned towards the kitchen to jump out of the kitchen window.  She slowly opened the hatch and just as she climbed onto the kitchen counter, her dad quietly said, “Something tells me you are not sleep walking Minie!” She jumped up like a scared kitten and almost fell off the counter.

With no remorse but a goofy smile and mischief in her eyes, Minie turned around and faced her father, “ummm… well dad, I was practicing sneaking out of the house, like they show in the movies!!! I wanted to see if I can manage without waking you guys up. But clearly, I failed.”

Namit replied, “You want me to believe that you are not running away but just practicing. Come on Minie! I’m your dad, give me some credit for wisdom that comes from age, if not for brains.”

“Seriously dad, you can check my bag,” she opened and showed her bag pack, it was stuffed with crumpled newspaper.  Namit just couldn’t help but laugh at that. He pulled out an ice-cream tub from the fridge and father and daughter sat at the counter having ice-cream at 2AM.

“Please don’t tell this to Mom, she will freak out.”

Namit said, “you know that’s not the rule, we never hide anything from each other. In fact, if you were doing this experiment, you should have given us a heads up – ‘Hey mom-dad, I am going to do a movie-style experiment one of these days so please don’t freak out. Once it’s over I will give you the details.’

Minie nodded her head at her father’s logic and said, “Next time, definitely. By the way Paa, how did you wake up, I was extremely quiet, didn’t switch on a single light and nor did I jingle any of wind-chimes on my way down.”

Now it was Namit’s turn to look sheepish and goofy, “Well! I, umm, I modified your old baby monitor and made it into a security device which alerts me of smallest of movements in your room. I only activate it at night and it was meant only to alert us of any intruder in your room.” Minie’s mouth was wide open.

Namit closed it and continued, “So tonight it beeped for the first time and it took me sometime to realize that it’s the security device beeping. By the time I got out of my room, I saw your silhouette inching down the stairs. So I just followed you and waited for the right moment to surprise you!”

Minie couldn’t help but laugh and admire her father’s ingenuity. With the ice-cream polished away, they both went up to their rooms with the promise that they’ll tell the full-story (with all the theatrics) to Mom tomorrow.