Wait. Wait.

There! That’s the bolt moving.
I must learn how to move it so.
So slow. So soft. So smooth.
It’s barely making a sound.
I’m going to grab this thief tonight.
Three nights it has been now.
Three nights of silent intrusions.
Three nights of lighter donation boxes.
I’m going to grab this thief tonight.

There, he’s coming in. Sshh. Hide.
Wait. Hold on. Hold on. Wait.
It’s a woman? A woman in a saree?
Wait. It’s Kapila’s woman. That hip.
Aah. Now I know why she’s here.
It’s for that son. The mental one.
Always sick. Always crying.
Always needing doctor visits.
Must be tough on the purse.
And with Kapila’s job gone.
They say she brings the cash now.
Does dishes. Scrubs floors.
That hip. That hip when she scrubs.
No wonder she brings the cash.
Who wouldn’t pay to see that hip?
Just look at it. How that saree flows.
Hide. Hide. She’ll see.

Wait.

So what if she does? She’s the thief.
She’s the one who should be scared.
She’s the one who’ll go to jail.

Wait. Wait. Hold. Sshh. Don’t rush.
Wait for her to take the cash.
You can’t prove anything yet.
Keep the phone ready. For photo.
No, no. Video. Take video.
Look at her. Heroine.
Wasted on that damn Kapila.
Wasted on that mental son.
Now, she’ll waste in a jail cell.
Wait. Wait. Wait. Hold.
Think. What good is she in jail?
No, no. There’s another way.
It’s the temple money anyway.
Donation money. From the street.
Who is to say if it is a bit lighter?
I’m the one who lifts it anyway.
It gets quite heavy by Friday.
Twenty-two steps with that box.
If only the trustees came twice a week.
But no. Only Friday to collect.
Only one day in a whole week.
Just the times, I think.
When the temple was open
They cleared this every single day.
Now, lockdown. Doors closed.
No Gods. No tip for the poor priest.
I have my needs too, don’t I?

Wait. Wait. Hold.

What is she doing? A coconut?
She’s offering a coconut to the Gods?
Praying? What nonsense is this?
She prays and then steals?

Shit. Bloody keypad.
Hide. Hide. She’ll see. Hide.
No. No. She heard it. Did she?
Wait. There! There! Got it!
Got her sticking something in.
Into that blouse of hers.
Video is proof. Now, after her.
But when did she…?
No time. After her.

Aah. Got you, you…

“Don’t make a single noise.
I have recorded everything.
You don’t want the Police.
Take them out. Take out the notes.”

Stop struggling. Bloody. Stop…

“Stay put. Stay, you… Stay, I say.
Now, take them out. Now. Yes.
Take them out. Or I’ll have to.”

Yeah. Keep struggling. I’m bigger.
And now, I get to touch you there.
Hold, you… Hold.

“Ssshhh. You want the police?”

Aah. Soft. So soft. So…Wait.
Wait. Wait. Hold. What is this?
She’s stealing tulsi leaves?
Tulsi leaves? Wet tulsi leaves?
Coconut water? What?

“Wait. Wait. Don’t scream.
It’s a mistake. Wait. Don’t.”

Run. Run. Now. She’ll spin it.
She’s a woman. Run. Now.

“Sshh. Calm down. Sshh.”

Run. Wait. Wait. The door.
Someone’s at the door. Who?
Wait. Let go of her. If they see…

“Who’s there? At the door. Who?”

No. No. No. Stop screaming. No.

Oh good. Oh thank God. It’s Debu.

“Debu, Debu. Catch her. Catch her.
Thief. Thief. Catch her, son. Catch her.”

Wait. Wait. Hold on. Wait.
Why’s he running there? She went that way.
Wait. Oh God. Oh no. No. No. Oh no. No.

“Aaaahhhhhhhh”

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