It was a Sunday afternoon. Pradeep and Malini were relaxing, sitting in front of the TV watching a movie. It was a story based on World War II; a noisy film with guns booming and bombs exploding.
Malini heard the door bell ring. Since the maid was off duty on Sunday, she got up to open the door. Through the peeping hole on the door, she saw two well dressed gentlemen standing. Without any hesitation she opened the door.
“We are from the vigilance department. We have come to make an enquiry regarding a case in which Mr. Pradeep is involved”
When one of the gentlemen flashed some identity card, she allowed them inside without checking it. While she was escorting the two men to the drawing room where Pradeep was seated, she did not notice that one of the gentlemen had quietly closed the door and locked it from inside.
Pradeep was so deeply engrossed in the movie that he did not realize that somebody was standing next to the sofa, until he found some object being pressed to his temple.
Before he could react the person said, “This is a raid. If you cooperate we will not harm you”. He then brandished the gun he was holding in his hand at Pradeep`s face. Simultaneously he also raised the volume of the TV.
When Pradeep started screaming, “Who are you? What do you want?” the person pointed the gun at Pradeep’s head and said
“If you make a noise, I will kill you. This gun has a silencer. Nobody will know about what is happening in this house”
Pradeep now realized that it was daylight robbery by dacoits that was taking place in his house. His usually fast working brain refused to cooperate. While he was confused, he saw the second person pushing a frightened Malini towards the sofa, where he was seated, holding a knife behind her back. After making Malini sit next to Pradeep, while Dacoit one (D 1) pointed the gun menacingly at both Pradeep and Malini, Dacoit 2 (D 2) quickly went around the house closing all window curtains and cutting the phone connection which was the only means of communication with the outside world those days.
Pradeep tried to be smart and said, “You will not get away with this. My friend who is with the police is expected to visit us any time now”
“Don’t worry; we know how to tackle him also”.
When Pradeep continued to talk, trying to keep the dacoits engaged as he tried to hatch some kind of a plan to get out of the ordeal, D 1 got impatient.
“You talk too much. I have to silence you”
He pulled out a plaster to seal Pradeep’s mouth with it. When Pradeep tried to resist, D 1 hit Pradeep on the head with the revolver. Pradeep passed out.
While D.1 was pointing the gun now at Malini, D 2 pulled out a rope from a bag he was carrying and started tying Pradeep’s hands behind the back. With hands tied up and mouth sealed, Pradeep was pushed into a bathroom and the door locked from outside.
Now the two dacoits started concentrating on Malini who was so frightened that she started crying.
“Please.. Please do not harm me. Whatever you want, I will give you”.
“Ok… take us to the cupboard where you have kept all your jewellery”..
Suddenly Malini realized that only the day before she had brought from her Bank locker some gold and diamond jewellery to be worn for a wedding she was going to attend the following day. She felt miserable at the thought of losing all the expensive jewellery to the dacoits.
When she was mentally appealing to all her favorite Gods to get her and Pradeep out of the ordeal, the door bell rang. Malini felt a ray of hope.
The two dacoits were surprised. They wondered if Pradeep had told them the truth about his friend visiting him. But they did not panic.
D 2 told Malini, “Now you get up and open the door and get rid of the visitor fast. If you do anything to alert the visitor I will kill you and your husband.”
He accompanied Malini to the door. While she was opening it, he hid against the wall on the side brandishing the knife at her. Malini hoped against hope that the visitor could be the agent of God come to help her.
It turned out that the visitor was a door to door salesman who had come to sell some books for kids. Realizing that the young boy would not be of much help, she dispersed the salesman saying that there are no children in the house and closed the door.
D 2 said, “That is a good girl. Now take us to the room where you have the valuables…”
Malini reluctantly escorted the two dacoits to her master bedroom in which the sturdy Godrej steel cupboard with safety locker was located. Even the safe locker became unsafe in front of the armed dacoits.
The next half an hour was spent in Malini emptying the contents of the various boxes of jewellery, into the bag that D 2 was carrying. The booty that the dacoits got was worth several lakhs. Malini cursed her luck and was crying all the time while emptying the boxes.
After going from room to room and after having satisfied themselves that they had collected enough valuables, the dacoits decided to pack up.
While D 1 approached Malini with a menacing look she screamed, “You promised not to harm me if I cooperate. I have given you everything. Now what do you want?”
While she was afraid that the dacoit might tried to rape her, D 2 smiled and said, “Don’t worry, we are not going to harm you in any way. We are only going to silence you the way we did your husband.”
While D 1 sealed Malini’s mouth with a plaster, D2 tied her with a rope – not behind her back but in front. As an extra precaution the D 2 hit her also on the head, the impact of which made her collapse on the sofa and pass out.
The two dacoits made a quiet exit from the house and escaped in a car standing near their house.
When she came to her senses, Malini found that she was lying on the sofa in the drawing room. When she tried to get up her head started swimming. Her first thought was about Pradeep. She slowly walked up to the bathroom where Pradeep was locked up by the dacoits. Though the arms were tied up the fingers in her hands were operational. With some effort she opened the bathroom door. She was shocked to see Pradeep lying sprawled on the bathroom floor. Kneeling down she tried to wake him up with her hands.
Prodded by Malini, Pradeep slowly came back to his senses only to see the crying face of Malini with a plaster on her mouth and with hands tied up. He got up with some difficulty and both of them slowly walked towards the main door.
The dacoits had closed the door which had the Godrej automatic locking system. After struggling for several minutes Malini managed to open the door. Just as she came out, Ram, a tenant living on the first floor, walked through the main gate.
He was aghast at seeing the frightened faces of Pradeep and Malini , with plasters on their mouths.
He helped them by removing the plasters and also untying the ropes on their hands.
Once inside the house Malini told him about the day light dacoity that had taken place and the ordeal that they had gone through. Since the telephone lines were cut in the house, Ram went upto his house on the first floor and alerted the police on his phone.
Within 15 minutes the local police arrived. And the next few hours were spent in police not only talking to Pradeep and Malini to get details of the ordeal but also investigating the scene of the crime to get finger prints and other clues to identify the culprits.
The sight of the police vans in front of the house raised the curiosity of the neighbors, who started gathering in front of the Gate. The police left the house after spending nearly 3 hours.
Malini`s brother and sister in law who were staying close by also joined them to lend moral support.
Alerted by some neighbors with media connections , some reporters from both print and local television channel came to the house to get sound bytes from Pradeep and Malini.
It was very late in the night, after all the visitors left the home that Pradeep and Malini collapsed on the bed, exhausted by the unnerving experiences of the Day. Soon they were fast asleep.
Malini woke up in the morning with a start to answer the door bell, which was ringing. The previous day`s experience was still fresh in her memory. It was the milkman who had come to deliver the milk packets. After finishing her morning chores, she went to the Pooja room to offer her morning prayer. Hit by the enormity of the experience she and Pradeep had gone through the previous day, she broke down. Standing before the photo of her family deity she pleaded, “Why did you make us go through this ordeal my Lord? Is there anything lacking in my efforts to worship and propitiate you. I thank you for saving our lives but the jewellery bought over the years, piece by piece, is all gone. Please, please God help us in getting our valuables back.” She was crying all through the time she was standing before the Lord.
Soon Pradeep also got up and joined Malini in her prayers.
Later, he picked up the morning paper from the gate and sat down on the sofa with a cup of coffee. Glancing through the newspaper he found a news item about the dacoits in their house, also featuring the distraught faces of him and Malini. But there was no news about the dacoits.
Around noon a police jeep arrived. An SI walked in and introduced himself to Pradeep and Malini . He then flashed a photograph of two people and asked them if they could recognize the two people in the photograph. It seemed the car in which the two strangers were travelling was involved in an accident on the outskirts of Chennai. While the car was damaged the strangers survived with minor injuries. Instead of seeking medical help, they were trying to escape from the scene of the accident. The police became suspicious. Since they were not satisfied with the explanation given by the strangers they took them into custody. The whole night they were subjected to intensive interrogation.
In the morning, they noticed the news item regarding the burglary in Pradeep’s house and decided to find out if Pradeep and Malini could identify the strangers.
Malini and Pradeep did not find the faces familiar. The SI was disappointed. So were Malini and Pradeep. The SI asked them to come to the police station as he wanted to show them some more photos of probable suspects in their case.
Later in the day they visited the Police station and found the SI waiting for them. While seated in the chairs in front of the SI`s desk, Malini noticed two familiar looking bags placed next to the SI`s table. When queried the SI confirmed that the bags were found in the possession of the two strangers. On Malini`s request when he opened one of the bags. Malini literally screamed, ``These are my jewels which the two dacoits stole from our house”. She was very excited.
The second bag contained two wigs, a revolver, a knife, tapes, dark glasses etc.
Obviously the dacoits had visited their home wearing wigs and glasses to hide their real looks. It was now Pradeep`s turn to mock at the dacoits, who could be seen inside the Lock up rooms behind the SI`s table, “I told you that you will not get away with this..”
Malini with closed eyes invoked her Lord, “Thank you Lord for answering my prayer so soon”.