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SHORT STORY - AN ACT IN TIME

AN ACT IN TIME

By Amina Khaleel




Sunil’s parents were going to Delhi on a business trip. They had actually wanted to convert it into a family vacation, but since Sunil had his last exam that day, they could not take him along. They decided to leave Sunil under the care of his aunt, attend the business meet, cut the trip short and be back the next day itself. The vacation was put off for now.

Even though they were a bit apprehensive of leaving their 11 year old son alone for the first time, Sunil was composed and relaxed and assured his parents that he would take care of himself. He wanted to prove to them that he was a responsible boy. The lure of the new video game that his father had promised to bring along on their return was another thing that excited Sunil.

After his parents left for Delhi, he got ready, went to school with his aunt and wrote his exam. Since this was his last exam and holidays had begun, he spent the rest of the day playing cricket with his friends in the park. The next day dawned dark and cloudy and rains started lashing the city. Sunil spent the whole day playing video games and looking at the clock every few minutes. Due to heavy rains, his parents flight was postponed and they would be back only at 5.00 am the next day. Sunil’s aunt promised to wake him up early and asked him to sleep. But Sunil was not feeling sleepy. He glanced at the clock, it was 2.30 am. “Two and half hours to go” he thought. He went near the window and was looking at the raindrops falling.

All of a sudden, he saw four men entering a bungalow in the opposite side.  Even though they entered opening the main door, it looked odd to enter a house at that time and in such a hurry. Sunil was sure that they were thieves and wasted no time in informing this to his aunt. His aunt who had been sleeping got up startled and did not know what to do. “Who lives there, aunty?” Sunil asked. “Mr. and Mrs. Shasthri live there all alone. Their children live in the States, Oh God, what we shall do?” she exclaimed.




“Aunty, I have got an idea, please call uncle and aunty and ask them to lock themselves in the room. Ask them to make sure that they do not make a sound. In this way, they will be safe. I will go and lock the main door from outside. The thieves will be trapped and we will inform the police.”

“That’s a good idea, I will call them up, just be careful Sunil” she replied and started dialing the number. Mr. and Mrs. Shastri were fast asleep and were shocked and scared on hearing this. They at once closed their door with minimal sound and locked themselves from inside. Meanwhile Sunil had reached the entrance and was waiting for his aunt’s signal. Once she said yes, he slowly locked the door from outside and carefully crept back home. They informed the police.

The thieves heard the phone ringing and became anxious. They decided to abandon the attempt and tried to flee with the loot. But the main door did not open. They realized that this was a trap and tried to get away through the window. But all the windows had strong grills and hence they could not get away from there as well. They were perplexed at the turn of the events and decided to get hold of the inmates and keep them for ransom. But seeing the bedroom door already locked from inside they did not know what to do next. Just at that moment the policemen entered, overpowered them and caught them red handed. The inspector recognized the thieves who had been serial offenders and had already conducted robberies in different houses in the past few months. The police had been looking for them since long. Their modus operandi was to get hold of the house keys tricking the servants or the inmates and getting a copy made. This gave them the opportunity to enter houses at the dead of the night without the need to break in. Many times they had gotten away without anybody noticing them but today was just not their day.


The police took them away to the station and the inspector stayed back to congratulate Sunil for his presence of mind and bravery. Sunil’s parents were in for a pleasant surprise when they returned. The inspector informed them that Sunil would soon get a bravery award from the commissioner of police. Sunil’s family was ecstatic and celebrated with sweets. They were indeed very proud of him

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This short story for children was published in Champak magazine.

Photos courtesy: Champak magazine

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