The Locksmith’s Luck
In half a minute, this too got boring and she began bouncing on all fours, leap frogging, tumbling and bouncing in every way until she had begun jumping and dancing on the bed as if on a trampoline and cackled with joy. Azhar could hardly understand what was happening. But then curiosity got better of him and he peeped through a thin shaft between the wardrobe and the door.
Azhar was a forty-year-old bachelor and an expert locksmith. He also owned a hardware store. He was generally considered to be a good citizen even though fifteen years ago, he went to prison for stealing jewels. But since then, he has been very careful about not getting caught. The stolen money helped him travel around and enjoy the small luxuries of life.
This time, he chose the two storied house of a rich businessman, Alimuddin. For some odd reasons, the local burglars avoided the house. Someone mentioned something about an insomniac aunt who never slept. But Azhar did not care. He studied the house carefully for a week. The house was old and not difficult to get in. So, when the family went to their village home for the Eid vacation, he decided to make his move.
The two security guards were glued to the TV screen enjoying some farcical Eid program when he climbed to the roof of the house. He entered the master bedroom hoping to get quite a lot of cash and jewelry from the steel wardrobe. Between him and the treasure, there was only this double lock.
Right at that moment, someone switched on the light in the adjacent room. Azhar quickly hid behind the door. He was just able to have a glimpse of a girl in a red saree.
This was something he had not anticipated; he had imagined that he would be climbing into the house, pick the wardrobe lock and make way with the valuables. As far as he knew, Alimuddin and his entire family had gone to their village home on vacation. Was it possible that Alimuddin had hired a caretaker to look after the house while he was away? But now what was the best course of action? Should he go back the way he had come in, or should he wait until this girl went away? He could wait until the girl left and then quietly pick the wardrobe lock and leave with the valuables. This idea again was a daring one. An even more daring thing to do would be to wrestle her down, tie her up and gag her with a towel. But he could then take whatever he needed without her raising an alarm.
As he was contemplating the next course of action, the red sari came into the room and turned on the lights. For a moment, she stood where she was before going to the bed and plopping down on her back like a starfish on the ocean bed. She lay down for a bit staring at the celling, apparently enjoying the softness of the bed, but after a while, she began to bounce up and down on the bed cooing and squealing, seemingly enjoying its comfortable bounciness. In half a minute, this too got boring and she began bouncing on all fours, leap frogging, tumbling and bouncing in every way until she had begun jumping and dancing on the bed as if on a trampoline and cackled with joy. Azhar could hardly understand what was happening. But then curiosity got better of him and he peeped through a thin shaft between the wardrobe and the door. What he saw seemed strange. There was something quite unnatural about her that he couldn't put his finger on. Her cackling made his skin crawl. Who was she and why was she wearing a gorgeous red saree and jewellery in the middle of the night?
Was she perhaps mentally imbalanced? That would explain her unnatural behavior but the mystery of her identity was still confusing. Who was she exactly? Alimuddin's daughter? Things didn't add up and finally he decided on a course of action.
Just as he had made up his mind, footsteps came up to the door and she was peering at him with wide-eyed curiosity. "How long are you going to stay in there?" she asked. Azhar was stunned, he stood rooted to the spot struggling to reply, unable to utter a single word. "Well, why don't you come out now, haven't you been in there long enough?" she giggled, held out the door and pulled him out from his hiding spot. She looked like a young girl of seventeen but Azhar could not remember the last time he had been so bewildered.
"Okay, here's the deal-- we're going to play and after we are done, you can take whatever you want," the girl said with a charming smile. Azhar decided to test his luck. The girl after all had not given him away. "I'll play," he said with some difficulty. "Okay" the girl said brightly "let's play jumping on that bed, it's so much fun." Once he and the girl climbed onto the bed, he was about to pounce on her to put her on a choke hold, but the girl dodged him and began to giggle into convulsions. He was incensed having fallen flat on his face. His plan was to quickly wrestle her into submission, tie and gag her before he opened the wardrobe. For the next ten minutes, the two of them were jumping around on that large bed, he constantly trying to catch her and she continually eluding his arms and bursting into giggles each time he failed or fell down trying to grab her.
Azhar began to breathe heavily. He was not as young as he once was; he had tripped over too many times. "I know a way to have even more fun," the girl exclaimed suddenly. "Let's use the entire house." Azhar felt that this was too much; he might as well get caught. He was already starting to question his own sanity for doing what he had been doing. "Listen," he tried to find a way out. "I need to drink some water, also I think we've played long enough. Why don't I leave today and maybe we can play another time?" he suggested wearily.
"No, you can't leave, you agreed to play and not to leave until I said so!" she said with a mean smile. It was at that point, Azhar began to suspect of some great abnormality. He looked carefully at the girl, her chiseled face and flawless skin. Her laughter and her eyes. His knees wobbled as he suddenly recalled an old story of the woman who was killed in this very house many years ago. Wasn't she an aunt of Alimuddin? Azhar fell down on the floor, his eyes frozen on the rapidly changing form before him.
Marjuque Ul Haque is a graduate in English Literature and Cultural Studies. He loves to explore the intangible and the imaginative.