Appa, how did you become a Police Inspector?” Kartik asked his father. The two of them were sitting in their little garden on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

“Before I tell you that let me tell you a story,” his father said.

“Please Appa make it a long one. Your stories are always very short.”

“Okay son, now listen. This is a tale of a twelve year old boy called Subbu. He was an orphan and he used to work in a Doctor’s house. The Doctor and his wife were kind but their son Ganesh was a real nuisance . He was two years younger to Subbu but would always order him around.

“Subbu, you donkey, get my shoes.” “Subbu have you gone deaf? I have been shouting for a glass of water for the last ten minutes and there is no response from you.” “You are always irritating me Subbu. Let father come. I’ll make sure that he spanks you today.” Ganesh seemed to enjoy torturing him. But there was little Subbu could do about it. If he complained, his master might drive him away and he had nowhere to go.

One day Ganesh took Subbu along with him to his favourite playing spot by the river side, which was close by. No one was around and they had the field to themselves. Using a tree trunk as the wickets they started playing cricket. As usual it was a very one sided game with Ganesh as the batsman and Subbu the bowler cum fielder. Every third or fourth ball Ganesh would be clean bowled but would continue batting and make Subbu run all over the place. Suddenly Ganesh hit the ball with all his might and it disappeared into the bushes. Subbu ran after the ball and began hunting in the bushes.

After ten minutes of fruitless search as Subbu was returning to tell Ganesh his failure, he saw a sight which made him stop in his tracks.

A huge man with his face covered by a black mask had lifted Ganesh and clamping his mouth with his hand was carrying him away. Trotting just behind him was another man in a similar get up. He quietly followed the two men as they disappeared in the undergrowth. The thick bushes gave Subbu enough cover to remain hidden from the eyes of the kidnappers. After they had covered a few hundred yards they reached a car parked on the edge of the road. They got into the car and the driver turned the key to start the vehicle. The car shuddered but refused to start. As the driver struggled with the car Subbu quietly slipped behind and got into the dicky which was fortunately open. The car started soon after and around twenty minutes later stopped.

The Grateful One [Illustrations by Kusum Chamoli]
The Grateful One [Illustrations by Kusum Chamoli]

The two men struggled out of the car and got down. Subbu could hear the sound of an old door creaking open and the shuffling of steps. After waiting for five minutes Subbu got out of the dicky and looked around cautiously. The car was parked in front of an old dilapidated house on the edge of the woods. There was no other house in sight. The main road could be seen at quite a distance. He walked to a window which was partially open and peeped in. The two men had removed their masks and were sitting and chatting. From their conversation Subbu gathered that the thug who had picked up Ganesh was called Ranga and his accomplice was Anna. Ganesh was sitting in a chair. His arms and legs had been tied and his eyes were closed.

‘Poor fellow must have fainted from shock’, thought Subbu feeling sorry for Ganesh.

After a few minutes Ranga got up and walked towards the door. Subbu quickly ran to one side of the building and hid behind the wall. Ranga got into the car and started it. After the car had disappeared Subbu went around the house looking for an opening. As he circled the house he saw a ventilator which had no bars. Using a water pipe he managed to climb up and jump down through the ventilator.

Subbu looked around. It looked like a kitchen of sorts. There were a few pots and pans scattered around. In one corner he saw two plastic bottles containing salt and red chilli powder. Seeing the chilli powder he got an idea. His favourite hero Rajnikant had tried the same trick in one movie with great results.

He collected some chilly powder in the bottle cap and picked up an iron rod lying in the corner. Armed with these he pulled a stool behind the door to the room and climbed on it. He then rattled the door. After a minute Anna came lumbering in to find out what had caused the noise. Subbu, who was hidden behind the door, waited for him to appear. As soon as he peeped in Subbu threw the powder in his eyes. Anna began screaming and flaying his arms. Subbu brought the iron rod down on him using all his strength. Anna gave a howl and collapsed on the floor in a heap.

Subbu got down and rushed inside. He untied Ganesh who was now conscious and was shaking with fear. Just then there was a knock on the door.

“Oh my God. I think Ranga has returned. Come quickly ‘Babu’ let us stand on either side of the door. Here take this iron rod,” Subbu said handing Ganesh a rod and taking one in his hand.

“Anna, it is me Ranga. Open the door. I have talked to the Doctor. He will come here at night with the money,” Ranga shouted.

Ranga waited impatiently for the door to open. When there was no response from inside he started getting worried. He tried to force the door open. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts Ranga took a few steps backwards and charging full speed he hurled himself against the door. In the meantime anticipating this Subbu had unlocked the door. As a result just as Ranga threw himself against it, the door opened sending him crashing against the opposite wall. In a jiffy Subbu and Ganesh were on top of him swinging their iron rods. A couple of blows and Ranga lost consciousness.

“Come ‘Babu’, let us hurry. These devils might wake up any minute,” Subbu said and taking Ganesh’s hand he rushed out. They didn’t stop running till they reached the main road. A few minutes later they managed to get a lift into the town. Ganesh rang his father from a public phone and the Doctor rushed to pick them up.

A few hours later Ganesh was sitting on his father’s lap as his mother fed him hot ‘payasam’.

“Ganesh, I just got a phone call from the police station. The have nabbed the crooks. I am really proud of you my boy. You have displayed exceptional courage as well as intelligence.”

“‘Appa’, the entire credit should go to Subbu. It was he who did everything. If it wasn’t for him I would still be in their clutches,” Ganesh said recounting every detail of their adventure.

“You are right Ganesh. Subbu has shown that he is not only brave but also very sharp witted. His quick thinking and boldness came to your rescue. I want to give him a reward. Go call him.”

A few minutes later Subbu was standing in front of his master and mistress with folded hands.

“Subbu I want to reward you for your bravery. Tell me what is it that you want?”

Subbu hesitated for a moment and then said, “Master, I want to study.”

The Doctor looked at his wife, thought for a moment and said, “Okay, Subbu this month itself I will get you admitted in a good school. But tell me what do you want to become when you grow up?”

“I want to become a Police Inspector,” Subbu said.

Inspector R. V. Subramanian looked at his son Kartik. “So, son that is how I became an Inspector.”

“Appa, Ganesh always treated you very badly. Yet you risked your life to rescue him. I find that very difficult to understand.”

“Listen son, Ganesh’s parents had given me shelter. How could I be ungrateful to them? Amongst the qualities which I feel a man should possess gratefulness is the most important one. Only a grateful man can ever be a good human being.”

1417 words | 14 minutes
Readability: Grade 4 (9-10 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: stories
Tags: #doctors, #inspector

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