The mango season was fast receding in Rourkela, a city in the eastern part of India where the choicest mangoes from north India are available from May to July. Swagat was very fond of mangoes but relished it most if it was bought from someone else’s pocket. He was given an ultimatum by his wife to bring “Chossa” mango or else things will take an ugly turn on the home front.
“Chossa” being the costliest mango during that time, Swagat used to make some plea like better quality mangoes will come after 2 days or only Neelam mango is available or the market was closed as that was the last Friday of the month and so on and so forth. But this time there was no escape -he had to bring the mango of “her” choice. The lady of the house had enough information about the market position of mangoes. Due to distance factor she could not go to the market on her own.
While coming from the office our officer Swagat went to his known shopkeeper Laxman who was supposed to be selling mangoes at a reduced price especially to him but infact he was charging more than others. Swagat was a peculiar character in the sense that he felt heaviness in the chest when he went to bring money from the bank or when he used to spend money.
When he asked Laxman about the rate?
“Sixty for you sir!” he replied.
“Make it forty and give mangoes worth hundred.
“So be it,” he said. Then he selected the mangoes, weighed and packed them in a polythene bag.
As Swagat put his hand into his pocket he discovered that his wallet was missing. When he almost collapsed on the ground, people came to his rescue and made him sit on a near by concrete bench marked by bird droppings. Swagat had the maximum money in his purse for the first time in life, the petrocard, pay slips, newly acquired ATM card and the driving license.
Laxman asked a shocked Swagat if he would call a taxi or would he be able to go back home on his own.
Swagat told that his pocket had been picked along with some very important documents. He was not in a position to pay for the mangoes.
Laxman told him that he could pay it the next time.”
With a heavy heart Swagat went to the police station to lodge an FIR but there was no one there to lodge his complaint. So he came back home still sweating with a shrunken face. He was cursing himself for his negligence.
It was 2:30pm and by that time he should have been very hungry but the loss of the wallet made him forget his hunger. Brooding over this Swagat entered the house with the mangoes.
After removing his shoes he went straight to the bed room and lay down flat. His wife was puzzled by her husband’s behavior asked him whether every thing was fine.
“Yes, yes” replied Swagat.
“Then why have you gone straight to the bed room instead of asking for lunch?”
Swagat replied –“ I am feeling dizzy, please give a glass of cold water.”
“That will spoil your appetite.”
“Let it, anyway I don’t feel like eating.”
“Is some thing wrong with you? Let’s go to hospital or let me call Dr. Parida.”
“Neither hospital nor a doctor could make me feel better except time.”
His wife knew some thing was wrong with Swagat but could not make out what it could be.
After half an hour Swagat left for his office and on the way took a chance to lodge the FIR but still no one had tuned up in the police station except some hungry locked up youths who were shouting for food.
Swagat finished his office work and while going home, again he went to the police station for help. But he was asked by the I/C to prove that his wallet had actually been picked and then only could they lodge the complaint. Another witness’ signature was also required for completion of the formalities. Swagat thought that with so much paperwork and the uncertainty, it’s better to come next day with a friend known to the police. He badly needed a certificate from the police for the duplicate ATM, driving license and petro card.
After parking his car in the garage he closed the gate when a smiling wife, with heavy makeup and a gorgeous sari greeted Swagat.
She broke the silence and said-
“Relax Swagat, why are you so tense?”
“You probably don’t know what ails me today?” replied Swagat
“Yes I know every thing”
After you left for the office a young boy came and handed over your purse with a letter written in Hindi, should I read it for you?”
“Yes”, replied Swagat.
The letter read like this “Sir, sorry for the trouble, Munna picked your pocket near the car park. When he deposited the purse with me I saw your photograph and your home address. At once I asked the boy to return it to you. He did not know that you saved my life when I had brain malaria last year. Please inform me in future if there is any problem regarding theft or criminal threats to you to me. Here’s my mobile no. 884564008.”
Swagat got so excited that he lifted his wife from the ground and told her “Criminals too have a heart!”