The Honorable Thief By Anushka Mukherjee

The Writiesta Writing Competition had a lot of writers showcase their talent. We have selected 5 best entries for the same.

This one, written by Anushka Mukherjee is one out of the 5 best entries.

The crunch of the bus wheels against the concrete: a sound barely loud enough and yet, Sumana Ghosh could hear it over the sound of the bou scorning at her sasuri on the T.V. She got up, tucked the hanging pallu of her saree at her waist and walked to the main door. She opened the door just as Tintin rang the bell, inviting surprise from the little boy. As usual, his white shirt was brown in places, his shorts damp from the bottom. Will a day come when this boy will stop playing around in the dirt after school?

Tintin expected his mother to shout his ears off like she usually did, but today she just stood at the door, boring her eyes into his. Something crept up his spine. Fear? Confusion? Nervousness? Who knows, his mother could do anything.

Ki holo?” Tintin asked in his mousy voice.

“What happened? You tell me.” A reply Tintin always loathed. What was he supposed to say? What if he confessed to something his mother wasn’t expecting him to? This really was a no-win situation.

“Alright, come in.” Tintin’s mother made way. The table was set, lunch was ready. Yet, something seemed wrong. It’s coming, Tintin knew his mother. And he wasn’t wrong.

“Madhav, come here.” Uh-oh. Calling him by his good name? Never a good sign. Tintin walked to the sofa where his mother stood and took a seat.

“Have we not raised you well enough? Did we deprive you of anything?” Sumana asked.

Tintin gulped. What an ominous question! What do parents mean when they say this? Yes, they did deprive him of the latest hot wheels edition 5 last month. What did she want Tintin to say? There was never a right answer.

He shook his head. Seemed like a safe movie.

“Are your friends teaching this? Is it that Aryan? Oi dushtu chhele?” She nearly gnarled. Tintin wondered what poor Aryan had ever done to earn such a reputation in his home. He was a friend, but all he has taught him was how to write b in cursive. But Tintin doubted his mother was raging a storm for a cursive b.

“Teaching me what?”

“Teaching you to steal!” She now screamed and started pacing up and down the length of the drawing room.

“Just wait for your father to come home. We raise you, give you everything you want, put you in a good school, and this is what you do”

“Ma, I- “

“Yes, it’s the school. Those wretched friends. Their parents do a lousy job teaching them ethics and now my son is stealing. Stealing from his own house!”

“Ma, ki bolcho?” It was the only question he could get in in edgeways: what was she saying? Tintin had not stolen anything.

“Madhav, don’t you dare steal and lie. Stealing biscuits? What for? That too your father’s digestive biscuits. What do you do, do you sell them at school?”

All Tintin could really do was laugh, but he did not dare. Why would he steal digestive biscuits…and sell it at school? Was his mother absolutely delusional? What child does that? He realized he was the culprit here. He had taken the biscuits. But to steal it at school…this was more amusing than anything else.

“Just wait for your father to come. Just wait. How much did you earn, you disobedient fellow? If you ask, will we not give you money?”

“Ma, just listen – “

“I would never have noticed, but Komola told me that every day she saw some new piece of trash at the back door. Some flower, stick and an empty wrapper. Every day, it was the biscuit wrapper. Of the biscuits you steal everyday!”

“Ma, If I were to steal, why would I leave the wrapper there…” Tintin tried hard not to smile.

“You have the gall to answer back to me? Who do you think you are? Where are your manners?” Ma’s voice was as shrill now as it could go. But Tintin was busy thinking.

He took the biscuits everyday to feed Boku. Boku the street dog who roamed around the block. His mother was repulsed by dogs, so Tintin had to steal the biscuits and give it to him. He knew she would never agree if he asked.

But why did she find a wrapper at the back door every day? He was careful to throw it away in the ground where Boku roamed around, nowhere near his house.

“Ma, I took the biscuits but…”

“See!?” Ma shrieked. Her face was red. “I knew it! Hey ma, what did I do wrong in raising this boy? This is the day I had to see?” Once she started, she could hardly stop. Meanwhile, the gears turned in Tintin’s head.

Ma was pacing, muttering. He edged away from the hall, to the back door of the house.

What luck! Boku! Here, near his house! He ran out to pet him. As Boku got closer, Tintin saw that his mouth was full. Boku walked past Tintin to the door and emptied his mouth. Out come a plastic bag, a leaf and the wrapper of the Bourbon biscuit, Boku’s newest meal. Boku ran bag to Tintin, waiting to be scratched under his chin like always.

Tintin laughed. Ki boka boku, he thought. What a fool. Tintin didn’t know if this was Boku’s way of thanking him or his role in being environmentally conscious, but the poor idiot had gotten him in big trouble.

What to tell Ma, now? He was stealing biscuits for dog, who felt the need to give back in exchange for his stolen goods. Tintin sure did have an honourable thief for a best friend.

#Writiesta #HonourableTheif

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