Pawan Sood has a strange history. Many in this silly world may have had their own crazy eventful lives, but very few must have faced something as bizarre as this.
He was around 13 then, loitering around amidst the extreme chaos of a dragging middle class family. One night he was sleeping with his younger brother and mother. The father was out of town for some work. At midnight he woke up as he heard some sound from the backyard. Those were the days with big open houses, widely spread across an acre. Even the huge iron gates made terrible noises while opening and closing, as if something horrifying was about to unfold each time it was touched.
Few weeks ago there was a thief in the neighbourhood. He thought it must be a thief again, trying to make his way inside for a loot. He was very scared. The only security he could afford for himself was to wake up his younger brother. The brother was in sleep; so he did not take my words seriously. He kept on trying to convince his brother that there was certainly someone evil, standing outside.
Finally they both decided to go to their mom’s room to tell her about the danger waiting at their door. Stealthily the boys tip-toed into their mom’s room, woke her up and told her everything. Even the mom was confused and started feeling that there might be someone. All three sat for a while in the darkness and wondered what to do next.
Those days nobody had mobile phones so that they could call someone for help. They decided to lock their room from inside; then both the sons would go to the balcony attached to the room and shout for help. After 10 mins they did as planned. They shouted for 10-15 mins but no one came for the rescue. Finally a man who was luckily passing by saw the brothers frantically asking for help. He called everyone from the adjoining houses. Everyone rushed towards the backside of the house below the balcony where they stood. The boys told everyone that there is someone inside, searching for things.
The neighbours advised that the door be opened, so that people could come inside and catch the thief. Frankly, Pawan was so scared that he did not want to go out and open the door. But they had no option left either. So being the elder boy, he had to pick the bait. He ran as fast I could and opened the door of the house. Some five or six people rushed inside and started searching for the thief. Astonishingly, they could find no one in the house. A neighbour ran towards the kitchen and saw that that the milk was spilled on the floor. Those days there was no refrigerator where food items could be stored.
He shouted, “Come here at once, or else…” and stopped abruptly! Everyone thought he had found the thief. They were behind him in no time. And then we looked at each other and burst into laughter. Our scary thief was no one else but a timid cat who was hiding there after dropping the milk pot, equally scared as much as we were. We felt foolish as the neighbours kept laughing. We peacefully went back to sleep, knowing pretty well that we have given laughing fodder to the neighbourhood for many days to follow.
Story by Pawan Sood, residing in an old age home in Mumbai
As told to Ritika Jain