Sunday, May 25, 2008


It was 9:05 a.m. Mr. Arvind opened his store and removed the milk packets from his bag and put them in the freezer. Then he cleaned his glass windows with a cloth and arranged the newspapers and magazines in the rack next to the billing counter. Satisfied with his arrangements he lit the lamp in front of an image of Lord Ganesha and offered his prayers. Today was a special day and he needed a lot of luck to fulfill his plans.

At 9:15 a.m., the first customer of the day – Mrs. Geetha – came in. She was an old lady with a smiling face and a friend of Mrs. Arvind. She bought two packets of milk, half a dozen eggs, and a pack of flour. Arvind whistled to himself as the clock moved to 9:25 a.m.

At precisely 9:30 a.m., the guard of the Trust Bank opened the bank doors and within five minutes, the four employees of the small bank entered the building to start their days’ work. Arvind waved at them and they smiled at him.

At 9:50 a.m., Rajeev, the boy who assisted Arvind, entered the store. Arvind asked him to man the store and went out to have his breakfast. This was a daily routine; Arvind would visit the Arya Bhavan restaurant on M.G. Road, have his breakfast, and return at 10:30 a.m.

Today, instead of going to Arya Bhavan, Arvind proceeded to the bank. He had disguised himself by wearing a wig, a false moustache and beard, cheek pads inside his mouth, and dark sunglasses. He entered the bank and noticed that none of the customers had come in. He went to the teller and took out his service revolver. The teller’s, Mr. Krishnamurthy’s, face went pale.

Arvind said, “If you make a move I will blast your head off. Now listen to me: empty the trays into this bag.” He handed a Mickey Mouse bag – the ones that were going free with the 1kg Goldies Cornflakes pack. The teller did as he was told and handed the bag back to Arvind. The whole episode was over in seven minutes. Before leaving he took out a small square box and placed it on the counter, and warned the teller, “If you raise the alarm, this will blow, it is a time-bomb, so my friend, adieu.” Poor Mr. Krishnamurthy was shocked, and after five minutes regained his composure and called to his colleagues. He showed them the empty trays and the black square box. Mr. Prasad the manager stared and slapped his forehead in frustration. Then he said, “Not a moment to lose, call the police.” Krishnamurthy interrupted, “But sir, the bomb….” Then there was a beep and the square box started vibrating. All four gulped and called the security guard; he too started to sweat, then the box started beeping again, all of them stepped back. After ten beeps the sound stopped. Mr. Prasad used his mobile phone to call the police.

Arvind took the bag and left the bank. He took an auto and went to the railway station. On his way to the railway station, he heard the sirens of a police car and smiled to himself. Upon reaching the railway station, he bought an unreserved ticket to Mangalore. The train would arrive in ten minutes. He went to the gents’ restroom and took off his disguise. Then, he took out his grocery bag and transferred the stolen money to it. The elements of the disguise went into the Mickey Mouse bag. He put the bag into a dustbin and walked out of the station. He calmly went to the Arya Bhavan restaurant and had his usual breakfast of four idlies, a vada and a glass of filter coffee.

As he paid his bill, the proprietor of the restaurant, Mani Iyer, said, “Arvind sir, do you know that someone robbed the Trust Bank this morning?” Arvind feigned surprise and said, “Oh, God! I need to go to the store! What if the robber strikes there next?”

When Arvind reached his store at 10:35 a.m., the street was crowded with police officers. Arvind was greeted by an excited Rajeev, “Sir, sir, do you know someone robbed the bank.” Arvind moved to the small room at the back of the store, which he used as an office cum godown. He opened the bag and counted the money, there was four lakh forty thousand rupees all in used bills. He divided the money into four bundles and put each bundle in an empty shoebox. On top of the money, he put packets of noodles and moved out of the office after locking the office door.

When the police officers reached the bank, they found the four employees and the security guard waiting for them at the entrance. They pointed to the black box and waited nervously as one officer used a metal detector to check the box. He shouted, “Sir, all clear this is not a bomb.” Everyone walked into the bank and crowded around the counter. A police officer handled the black box gently. It was a small cardboard box that had been painted black. He opened it and started laughing, “Sir this is an alarm clock.” Mr. Krishnamurthy fainted and Mr. Prasad stared at the officers with a stupid look on his face.

At 11:15 a.m., the police officers came and asked questions; they were satisfied with the replies. One of the officers said, “Mr. Arvind, better be careful. The robber might strike your store.”

At 5:45 p.m., Mr. Arvind locked his shop and took an auto to his house. In his hand he carried a bag which had the money that he had previously hidden in the shoeboxes.

His wife Meena greeted him at the door, “Honey, is it true? Did someone rob the bank?” Arvind smiled and nodded his head. He went to the study and locked the door. He took out the ten-volume set of “The History of the World” which his father had gifted him and hid the money carefully in the pages of the books.

Then he took 10-hundred rupee notes and went to the kitchen. His wife and son Mrinal were waiting for him at the dinner table. Mrinal was excited as he held out his report card. “Daddy, I got the first rank in the class, centum in Maths and Science.”

Arvind smiled at his son and gave him 5-hundred rupee notes. The boy was gushing with joy and showed the money to his mother. “Mummy, Dad gave me a prize.” Arvind gave the remaining Rs. 500/- to his wife and said-“Meenu, this is for you. You said you wanted the pink saree that we saw at Ashika Silks, you deserve it.”

Meena hugged her husband and served dinner. Arvind looked at his plate, “Pulav and stuffed capsicums; super - a lovely meal and a happy family.”

That is how Mr. Arvind robbed the Trust Bank. The police said they suspected a bearded man from Mangalore had robbed the bank and they were currently seeking the help of the Mangalore police to arrest the man who had robbed the bank.

© Mahesh Ramani 2008

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