October 18th, 2011
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The detective cousins

Kids sphere/ Dhanya Bhaskaran

Chapter 2

THE YOUNG DETECTIVES AT WORK

detective cousin Dhanya bhaskaran

By the time the police came, there was a fairly large crowd in the shop. The police spoke to Ramettan and others. They also questioned a few regular customers. But the policemen could not arrive at any conclusion. They examined the table and the surroundings, recorded the complaint and left, assuring that they would catch the thief soon.

It was on their way back from school that Ninja and Anu heard the news. They were regular customers at his hotel and patrons of Ramettan’s evening snacks. They felt very sorry for that poor man. They decided to conduct an inquiry  of their own. They went home, took Tito with them and went to the hotel to speak to Ramettan and others. When they reached the site, there were only a few people — some regular customers like the postmistress, two or three teachers of the nearby school, some labourers from the close by construction site, and a few children in school uniform.

Ramettans tea shopRamettan was still under  shock and was sitting in a corner of the shop. His son and daughter- in- law were serving tea and snacks to the customers. His nephew was cleaning the vessels in the backyard and his wife was preparing bondas and bujjies in the kitchen.

“Ramettan”, called Ninja. Ramettan raised his head and looked at the young boys. “We would like to help you. May be, we can help you. Shall we try?”

“Of course.  I just need my money back. I accumulated it for repairing my shop. I withdrew it in the morning from the bank to give the advance to the carpenter and to buy cement, bricks and tiles. I lost all my money. What shall I do now? How could this happen? How could I be so careless! My God! I lost… I lost everything…”  He started to sob again.“Please don’t cry Rametta…you will get your money back. We will try our best to help you. Believe us…” assured Ninja.

“I have to pay the milkman this evening. In fact he came for his money. But I was too busy serving the meals and so asked him to come in the evening. I should have given his money when I met him near the bank this morning. But then both of us were in a hurry. Now how shall I pay him? Everything is gone… I am thoroughly looted…”

“Were there any new or unfamiliar people today for lunch?”

“No… I don’t think so…”

“Who all sat in those chairs near the cash table?”

“I think… Raghavan Master, a few children from the school, Veera, the milk man, the postmistress and may be some workers from the construction site… Well,

I don’t remember clearly.”

Anu went to the cash-table, and carefully searched the place. The table was close to the entrance and the front window was nearby. It was Ramettan’s idea to spare that corner for the cashier’s table and chair so that it would be easy for him to collect money from the customers as they leave. He could also monitor and catch those stingy few who were reluctant to pay the money. Moreover, since it was near the window there was always ample light and good breeze in that corner.

On the table there were a few small glass boxes in which he kept toffees and sweets for his ‘junior customers’. Ninja joined Anu in examining the place. Anu searched under the table and chair. He could not find anything special or unusual except a few cash bills and a doctor’s prescription, which might have fallen from the pocket of someone while he took the money from his pocket to pay at the counter. Anu took them all and kept them in his pocket.

Ninja stepped out of the shop and walked towards the open window. He tried to touch the table through the window, but his arm was not long enough to reach the table. While trying to touch the table he saw a sharp rusty nail on the edge of the window frame, which if he were a little careless could hurt his arm. He called Ramettan and asked him to try to touch the table through the window. He cautioned Ramettan about the nail. Ramettan tried, but he was able to reach only up to the edge of the table; not till the drawer holder. Ninja whispered something in Anu’s ears. Anu went inside and after some examining the table and its surroundings, pushed the table a little closer to the window. This time Ramettan succeeded in reaching the drawer holder easily.

“This could be the way how the thief managed to get the money. When you realized that you lost the money, you must have gone panicky and searched frantically everywhere and in that hurry, you could have pushed the table a little off the window. That is why there are marks on the floor under the table legs”, said Anu and Ramettan too agreed with this theory.

“But theories won’t bring back my money”, thought the poor man. “These young ones may find more theories”, he murmured to himself; “that’s all what they learn at school”.

Ramettan went back to the kitchen. He felt his head reeling. He hadn’t had his lunch. But it was not hunger that made his head reel and turned his eye-sight dim. Hunger was never a problem  for that hard-working man. Generally, he used to have lunch with his wife around four in the afternoon, the last one to eat. Sometimes, there would be nothing left for them. A lorry driver and the cleaner may prop their head into the low-roofed dining hall with hunger and thirst writ large on their face. They may not even enquire whether there was anything to eat at all. They knew from their long experience that Ramettan wouldn’t send them back without giving something or the other to eat. Quite often Ramettan’s wife almost broke into tears when some last minute customer entered the hotel calling “Ramettaaaa”.

That long call suggested the intensity of hunger. That also meant that whatever little rice and curries which she had collected in a plate and was about to take to her husband, was going to the late-comer, and she and her husband were going to work the rest of the day—and part of the night too— on  an empty stomach. She knew very well that it was not for the money he gave his own lunch to a late-comer. She knew that he would say, “Parvathy, if there is some food left, it must go to the hungry man. If one comes late for lunch, it simply means that he was busy with some work. Let him have the food. You go and make a glass of strong tea for me”. That was the end of it. There was no point in arguing with him especially on such issues and on such occasions. He would be happy with his ‘strong tea’; but what about herself?

to be continued………………..



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