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The boys exercised great caution over the next few days; the thief had taken a break and there were no thieving incidents for eight to ten days. This, however, grieved Jaladhar immensely. "You fellows have spoiled everything by creating a furore. The thief has realized I am after him; how can he dare to steal now? Fortunately, I did not disclose the thief's identity." But on the same day, we learned that the thief had stolen food from the headmaster's office. This incident provided us with some ammunition to tease Jaladhar. "Well, Mr. Detective! You claimed the thief has abandoned his criminal activities out of fear for you. He seems to have overcome his fright!" we mocked.
The smile on Jaladhar's lips disappeared and he became glum. The thief's temerity baffled him completely; the thought troubled him so much that he could not pay attention in class; he almost came to be caned by the teacher. After two days, he called us for a meeting and said he had devised a plan to catch the thief red-handed. The plan was that during the lunch hour, Jaladhar would place a plateful of food on the table; no one was to enter the lunchroom. The interior of the lunchroom could be easily observed by hiding outside. The boys would be divided into groups and each group would take up a strategic position from where to observe the lunchroom. The thief could not enter the lunchroom unobserved!
The plan caught our fancy and none of us could pay attention in class; we waited eagerly for the bell to ring to announce lunchtime. We discussed in hushed whispers what we would do with the thief once we caught him. This, of course, irritated the teacher and he asked Paresh and Vishwanath to stand on the bench. The minutes dragged. After ages, the bell, finally, rang to announce the lunch break. Jaladhar immediately went to the lunchroom and placed the plateful of food on the table. A group of boys, including Jaladhar, took up position by the window in a room around the corner. Another group took up position in the gym.
Jaladhar instructed us on what we should do once we saw the thief. "The thief is, apparently, very cunning and bold. It will not be wise to attack him physically; he is surely very strong. I suggest we should throw ink at him and raise an alarm. This will cause the watchmen to rush to our assistance; if the thief tries to escape he will be easily identified because of the ink stains."
Ramapoda was not convinced about the thief's physical prowess. "What makes you think he is strong?" he asked. "He doesn't seem to eat much; whatever food he steals is not much."
Jaladhar made a face at him and replied, "You are indeed smart! Do you think strong people eat a lot? If that is the case, then we should say our Shyamadas is very strong; you should have seen him eat at the feast hosted by the Ghosh family the other day. Don't argue with me. If you think you have the courage to tackle the thief, do it; we will not interfere. I know this thief is no ordinary thief; I am sure he is the same thief who committed theft in my house."
At that moment, we saw the left window of the lunchroom open slightly as if someone was pushing it from inside. Then we saw a flash of white spring out of the window onto the ground below. We watched with bated breath; it was a huge tomcat and it had Jaladhar's shor bhaja (a sweet) in its mouth.
You should have seen Jaladhar's face; he stood gaping at the disappearing cat with his jaws wide open. We asked, "Mr. Detective, is this burly thief the one who committed theft in your house? Let's hand him over to the police then."
Some useful links for
- Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
- IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
- Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
- Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
- IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
- Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
- Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
- Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
- Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
- Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
- Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu