“Okay students, now everyone tell me what do you want to be when you grow up”, the teacher asked.
“A thief”, a soft sound echoed the class after the whole class was done illustrating the vivid imagination for their future.
The teacher raised her head to spot the student. It was little John, a 10-year-old thin boy with curly hair.
Everyone laughed and the teacher managed a wry smile. Little John also laughed at himself.
Obviously, he was joking. Naughty little Johnny !
10 years later…
“He jumped out again. This is the third time he has broken out from the prison”. Prison head surely was not in a good mood today because the bank robber escaped again.
“Sir, this guy is an artist. He knows the art of theft and he is damn good at it.” He explained describing the defector as I was given the charge of this case now.
“He leaves no trace. We were never able to find the money he stole. Even when he jumped out, there was no clue how he got out from the cell and I am pretty sure no one is helping him from inside.” Prison head lighted a cigarette, sitting on the chair.
Next morning, I went to see the officer who handled the case twice when he escaped.
“To be frank, I never caught him in the first place. Both the times he appeared before me and I arrested him. But I couldn’t find any clue how he opened the lockers. He is very neat. Not a single lock was broken. It was just opened like someone gave him the key. No sign of struggle.” He gave me the case report with some photographs.
“Also, he won’t take down the whole bank. He takes as much he needs. But the mystery is where he hides the money” He continued, still thinking about the case.
“Okay. Thank you for the information and this report.”
This is my first case and it’s a complicated one. Phew! I really don’t know what to do. Anyway, I am going to have a beer.
“Robbery at Central bank!! It is estimated that around 10 million dollars were stolen” News broke out as I was taking a sip of beer.
Just then, I saw the man sitting near me. He was not drinking, just looking at the news. It was him. The one I was looking for.
“Are you not arresting me?”, he asked as he met my glance.
“Yes, I will arrest you. I know you are not going anywhere. But before I do that I want to know how do you unlock everything”, taking another sip, I asked him.
“Ha..ha..It’s an art, sir. I am not supposed to tell you the secret”, he said.
“Then why do you surrender, every time?” I asked him.
“Where else would I be free Sir? It’s my home now. Each time I get caught they extend my rent period” He smiled.
I took him to the prison.
“Where is the money?” Prison head asked me. “Why are you not questioning him?”
“Sir, last two time did he give you any clue about the money and did the banks ever complained again?”
“Then sir, he is not a thief. He did not take a single penny from the banks.”
“How is that possible?”
“Sir, all I can say is that he isn’t a conman but an artist.”
Before leaving I went to see him again. He was again locked in the cell.
“Sir, you wanna see how I pick locks?” He asked me.
Of course, I nodded.
“I see a curiosity in your eyes. That’s why I am gonna teach you this.Not everyone can do it but I believe you can.”
“Sir, can you take one the leaves lying there?”
There was an old mango tree. I took a dry yellow leaf and handed it to him.
“No, I need that green one.” He pointed out from the cell.
I picked a relatively greener leaf and gave him.
“Look closely sir. This is how you make a master key out of a leaf” He carefully tore the leaf in a particular manner and then he just opened the lock of his cell using just a leaf.
I was dumbstruck on seeing this. “How did you learn this ?” I asked him.
“Ha..Ha..This was my passion sir, mastering the art of theft.” he said laughing.
He gave me the leaf. “Sir, you can also learn the technique with just some practice.”
“Remember sir, this key is very powerful, I have even opened three strongest safes in the world. Remember just some practice”
“Yeah, I certainly will” still looking at the shape of the leaf, I walked away.
“Sir, may I know your name please.”
“John…John Rodriguez.” I replied still looking at the leaves.
The last bell rang. All students hurried off to their home.
“Johnny, you will stay back. I wanna talk to you” Teacher called John.
“So, Johnny you wanna become a thief !”
“See Johnny, theft is an art. Do you know where you can learn this ?”
“You do not necessarily become a thief to learn this art. You could become a police officer instead, observe thieves in prison and learn. Then you can serve common people from real thieves using your mastery. Do you understand me, John?”
“Yes, ma’am” Little Johnny nodded and walked away.