Full moon summer night of Delhi it was. All were fast asleep on the terrace. Suddenly there was these cries of thief ..thief..followed by commotion. Different people were making different statements not discouraged by the fact that none was listening to them. They were hell bent upon to give their opinions irrespective of whether any one gave ears much less credence to them.
A thief had broken into Mr Khanna’s house in our neighborhood. Thief made good his escape under the cover of night. FIR was lodged with the police in the morning. Thief had left Mr Khanna poorer by three to four thousand rupees. Police came, did routine inquiry, asked few ‘stock questions’ and went away never to return.
Today when continuously for third day Kallu press wala did not come and open his hand cart at the far end of the street for ironing clothes, people especially his regular customers including Mr Khanna whose few dresses also thief had stolen felt strange and began talking. Mr Khanna was feeling the pinch where it hurts most. His decent office dresses were stolen by the thief. When fourth day too Kallu did not turn up, Mr Khanna went to Police station and gave the name of Kallu as the prime suspect.
Another week passed before Kallu appeared on his handcart. As soon as the residents saw him they started thrashing him. He was mercilessly beaten by one and all even by some of the passersby. Prominent among them were whose clothes Kallu had either burnt or lost in past. Mr Khanna who was regarded as the most cool and finest gentleman took leading role in beating Kallu blue and black. When Police came mob was still holding him with his hair while people were hitting him wherever they could. Weak and hungry Kallu had fainted. Police took charge of Kallu or whatever was left of him. When Kallu regained his senses he was staring one moment at the mob other moment at the police. Suddenly, he started crying he was weeping, no he was wailing repeating “I don’t know anything what have I done? I had to at once proceed to my village” he produced telegram from his pocket. It was for Kallu. Mr Khanna almost snatched the telegram and read it aloud before the mob. It read ‘Mother died come soon’
( This short story of mine in Hindi ‘ Bechara Press wala’ was published in ‘Hindustan’ 2nd July 1978 )