The conman was seated at his usual vantage point, a place that afforded a clear view of the populace exiting the railway station. As he stubbed out his morning cigarette, he was sure he'd spotted his first quarry.
"Aren't you from Sivan Master's household?" the conman accosted him as he was crossing the subway under M--- Road across the Central railway station.
"Err... Are you from Kerala?"
"Where in Palakkad?"
"It's a village, about 12 kms from the town."
"Ah! I am not mistaken then! Do you know postmaster Balan?"
"Well, I am his son. I knew I had seen you somewhere before! You're on your way back from home I gather?"
"Yes". The conman appeared to ponder this awhile.
"What is your ancestral name?"
"I am from the Mele Paadam house."
That seemed to clear the matter at once. With the widest grin he'd ever seen, the conman remarked, "Indeed! I know your family very well. You should ask your parents about Balan postmaster's son Vasu. You perhaps don't remember, but I have been to your house many times."
He just smiled pleasantly and continued making his way through the morning rush of work and school bound humanity.
"You won't believe the trip I had yesterday night!" Vasu persisted, "The train we were in was stopped by dacoits!" This halted the quarry in his tracks.
"Oh yes! Rumor has it that it was Veerappan! Haven't you read the papers?" he paused, "It perhaps hasn't made it to the press yet. But I am sure you'll read all about it in the evening edition! Suffice it to say that I am extremely lucky to be alive!"
He looked at Vasu with concern and remarked, "That's quite awful!"
"Yes! Yes! My wife wasn't quite so lucky though. She has been admitted to the general hospital which is where I am headed right now. Oh! I don't know what I'll do!" Vasu was visibly distraught. They were out of the subway by now.
"They took everything you see." Vasu continued, "We escaped only with the clothes on our back!"
"Tragic! Quite tragic!"
"Yes! Yes! Quite! And I am so new to this city. I am so glad I saw you - you're a God send!"
He faced Vasu and said abruptly, "Well, Vasu it was nice meeting you. Hope your wife recovers soon. Goodbye!"
"Yes, thank you! Goodbye then!" Vasu replied and turned away walking towards the hospital.
The quarry had waved an auto rickshaw and got into it before he heard the familiar voice call out to him again.
"I feel so embarrassed saying this to somebody I've just met, but it is a desperate situation you see. Like I said, they took everything; even the money in my wallet! May they be struck by lightning!" Vasu cursed, "I am completely broke right now. Would you be able to spare some money? I will personally return it to the Mele Paadam house once I get back. It will be a big help."
Seeing him hesitate, Vasu was quick to remark, "No, that's quite alright. I completely understand. Please forget that I ever asked. I apologize. Please give my regards to your parents." And made as if he would leave.
He stopped Vasu and said with feeling, "No Vasu, that's not it. It's just that... I don't have change you see. All I have is a Rs. 1000/- note. If you can spare Rs.100/- for this auto I'd happily hand it over to you. I am sure you need it more right now than I do."
There was an expression of genuine surprise on Vasu's face. He quickly recovered and said, "Thank you so much Sir! I was right, you truly are a God send! I do in fact happen to have this one Rs.100/- note. They forgot my secret pant pocket you see!"
They quickly exchanged the money and Vasu said as he handed his hundred rupee note, "I promise to return this money as soon as I get back home. I shall never forget this favor! Again, thank you Sir, may God shower His blessings upon you."
"Oh! That's quite alright. Please go attend to your wife now. Goodbye!"
As the rickshaw sped away from the station, he thought, "Now, if only the rest of the fake notes were as easily spent!"
PS: My colleague cum boss cum general pain in the wrong part of the anatomy (otherwise known as Aravind) is
writing a series of really short stories over at his blog Moving Horizons and doing a
pretty good job of it - so much so that the writing bug seems to have bit me too now! This little short here is my first shot at the genre (or any genre in
writing any kind of ficitonal prose actually). Feel free to critique, slobber mindlessly at its sheer blinding genius etc.