No one knew that he was a robber, not even his wife. He robbed such rich people as were careless about their riches.
He had amassed enough wealth and no longer needed to rob anyone; but the robber in him could not resist the temptation of picking a soft target. This time he was targeting the Fort family. He had, however, promised to himself that this would be his last robbery.
The Forts were known to have inherited rare gems and diamonds; the rumour was that Mr Fort’s grandfather’s grandfather was a pirate; he had, of course, always claimed that he was an officer of the East India Company.
He had been keeping surveillance on the Fort House for some weeks. There were only five people in the family; Mr Fort, his wife, his two silly daughters and his mother. He was confident that it would turn to be the softest target of them all.
The day the Fort family left on a holiday he entered the house at midnight. He found the housekeeper sleeping like a baby. The safe was in the old woman’s room. She was awake but bed-ridden. He went about his job quietly and with efficiency befitting his calibre.
‘Don’t touch the blue stone; it’s in a small steel box. It’s cursed and you will regret all your life,’ He was taken aback; the old woman had said these words in an unusually strong, metallic voice.
He was not influenced by her words. Rather her words tempted him to look for the blue stone. He found the small steel box and opened it. In there was a magnificent blue diamond. He picked it up and smiled; he had never seen and touched such a precious stone. He quietly pocketed it and looked towards the old woman, ‘Ma’am, it was a clever but a pathetic ploy.’
He decided not to pick anything else. The blue diamond was more valuable than everything else in the safe. He was about to leave but something bothered him. He came back and looked at the old lady. Her eyes were focused on him.
‘You worried I would identify you, no?’ she asked and laughed. Her looks and laughter scared him.
Like a man possessed he had clutched her throat and strangulated her. Later he went back to this moment many a time but he was unable to understand the reason for such a violent reaction on his part.
Enormity of what he had done dawned on him only on reaching his home. For many long minutes he stood shell-shocked. He had committed more than a hundred robberies, but never had he hurt anyone; he abhorred violence. This time he had violently killed an old woman. It was an unwarranted killing and he would have to pay for this heinous crime, of this he was certain.
He felt emotionally and physically drained and almost dropped dead on his bed.
He didn’t get up in the morning and slept till late in the afternoon. When he woke up his wife said, ‘Something strange happened at the Fort House. It’s all over in the news; there was a robbery; the robber killed an old woman; the poor lady was blind. And guess what she was holding in her hand, a priceless blue diamond.’
Slowly, as if casually, he felt his pocket; it was empty.
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