• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 03

The Ship

He lights a cigarette and inhales. A lone tendril of smoke rises from its end. He walks from room to room, assessing the damage. The pans and pots in the kitchens are in disarray. A half-eaten burger, with its mayonnaise slathered potato filling and lettuce falling out, lies on the granite countertop. The famished intruder probably did not have time to finish. In the bedroom, the two pillows and the bedspread are strewn. What could anyone have wanted from his stark two-roomed shack.

Like lightning, realisation strikes him. The two-hundred-year-old heirloom in the bedroom. He opens the locker with shivering fingers. It’s gone. The weighty silver dagger with gold motifs of flowers, elephants and Goddess Lakshmi. The only piece of treasure that was handed over to him by his grandfather before death. He ambles to the hall and settles on the bean-bag that is crying out for more beans. He takes a puff of the cigarette. Who could have done it? It was only the new helper boy who knew.

At a distance, the ship hoots a siren. He walks to the window. With a wrinkled palm, he clears a circular patch of dust on the glass pane so he can see clearly. The air is streaked neon and fluorescent pink. The sky is a delicate shade of cobalt blue. Somebody has cut a gaping hole in the wire fence. The hole is wide enough for a small boy to squeeze in. He always thought the fence was barbed, but clearly he was wrong. He stubs out his half-finished cigarette into the brass ashtray.

The ship has set sail on the choppy waters of the Arabian Sea. Something in its wail tells him he won’t see his stolen treasure again.