It would be imprudent to write off small-town thieves. Their job was difficult. Everyone knows everyone in these towns, and if you did steal, you had very few places to lay low. Also, thieves could turn out to be someone that none expect them to be.
Thimma faced a similar situation. He was a compulsive thief and harboured aspirations of gaining skill and entering the royal profession of politics. One evening, he stole golden bangles of a sleeping old lady before encountering the corundum-where to hide? He planned to stay hidden for a couple of days and claim he was never in the town to commit the crime.
His mind raced through the probable locations and finally halted at the old cottage of Judge Sir. The cottage was in a vast estate and no one dared trespass into the estate. ‘Perfect!’ he did a mini hoop and arrived at the estate as the night fell.
He slipped past the caretaker and entered the cottage by removing grill on a window. The cottage was cosy with a comfortable bed, running water and a gas-powered room heater.
Thimma crashed on to the bed and dozed off. But it was only for a few hours because the cottage’s door opened with a loud thud. Thimma woke up with a start and scampered off to hide under the bed.
“I know you are there!” thundered a person.
Thimma peeked and caught a glimpse of the person standing in front of him. To Thimma’s horror, the person dressed as a Judge would, in a flowing black gown. Thimma was on the verge of having wet pants.
“Thimma, you do not know who you are! You are destined for greatness. Come, stand before me,” the Judge said to Thimma.
Wiping the sweat off the forehead and holding back tears, Thimma crawled out. But there was none. Scratching his head, he looked around. The window to the cottage was open, and a cold breeze was blowing in.
‘Where is the Judge,’ he wondered, ‘did he jump out the window and run?’ he thought examining the intact window.
‘Must have been a bad dream. No, it was not a dream. Was it a ghost?’ Thimma shivered. His fear got better of him and Thimma collapsed near the window. He neither wanted to sleep there nor had the courage to go into the woods in the dark. Yet, he dozed off, again.
Next day, he woke with the first rays of the Sun. He was hungry. Hence, before escaping from the ghost-infested estate, he wanted to steal some food from the caretaker. He snuck up to the caretaker’s hut. The old caretaker was talking to someone over the phone.
‘This early in the day?’ he wondered as he overhead what they spoke.
Thimma could not hear the full conversation yet eavesdropped the words, ’USA’, ‘Judge saar’, ‘Death’, ‘Lost Son’, ‘Only wish’, ‘Property’.
Quickly, his curiosity got better of him and he went back to the cottage. His hunger no longer troubled him.
‘What were they talking? The Judge died? He had a son who is lost? Means, like the movies? And Judge’s only wish was to pass on his property? How will he do it….? Wait why did I steal bangles and end up here among all the places? Why did the dead Judge appear before me? He was trying to tell me something too. Am I that son?’ a sudden surge of excitement jolted through his thin body.
‘But, I remember my parents. Was I stolen? Must be, I did take after that man, damn old stinker! He made me stay away from my great riches all these days!’ he cursed his dead not-father.
Thus, he planned to spend another night at the cottage and meet the Judge. Night arrived after what Thimma thought was forever. He sat on the bed and waited for the Judge to appear, and the Judge did reappear.
Thimma could not see the Judge’s face, it was blurry.
“I wanted to see if you are courageous enough to come back and hear the truth about your identity,” Judge started speaking.
‘His face is blurry, but his voice… his voice is just like a Judge’s voice,’ Thimma thought as the excitement of a grand revelation coursed through his veins.
“You are my son!” The Judge declared as the wind picked up outside. Even the excited Thimma noticed it and moved to close the window. But when he turned back, the Judge was not there.
‘Gosh, what’s with this Judge!’ he ranted for a few minutes before making a plan to wait till next night, and this time he was going to bolt the window shut.
The second day morning, he went toured the estate, tasting fruits from the trees that grew on his estate. He planned to develop the estate into a gambling den. Knowing that riches await him made the day seem long, ‘these damn days never pass I please,’ he rued.
He was ready, sitting on the bed with his legs crossed. The Judge appeared before him again but the Judge’s face was still blurry for some reason.
“Father, make it quick. How do I gain my riches? How do I tell the world that I am your son?” he questioned the Judge.
“My son, the bed you are sitting on has all the gold I have managed to save. Tear it open and you will find your inheritance” came the reply.
Thimma sprung upon the bed like a hungry tiger and tore it open. Gold coins poured out. Thimma rejoiced and screamed aloud stuffing his pockets with gold.
“All this is mine! All!” he screamed as he dived into the gold and fell asleep.
Next day, the town was abuzz with news that Thimma was found unconscious of some carbon monoxide poisoning and was rescued by the caretaker who investigated screams from the cottage. But none knew why Thimma had cotton stuffed his pockets.