Man loses Rs 1.5 lakh from under his pillow.
Geetanjali Krishna reveals what happens next.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
The other day, I heard the strangest story from Kamini.
Last week, her husband, who is overseeing the construction of their house in Odisha's Sambalpur, had Rs 1.5 lakh stolen from under his pillow.
"The money was hard earned," said she tearfully. "It will take us another year to save so much again; further, this loss will delay the completion of the house," she said.
Her husband wanted to go to the police, but family and neighbours wanted to conduct their own investigation first.
Lord Hanuman could help them much more than the police, they said.
So instead of the police station, they headed to a nearby Ram temple, reputed for solving many such crimes.
The priest at the temple asked them to return with a pre-pubescent boy, with a steady head on his shoulders, and a banana.
"After years of living in the city, obviously my husband was sceptical and our son even more so," she said. "But they didn't want to alienate the family."
So a suitable boy was located, and off they went to the temple, banana in hand.
The priest performed some rituals, anointed the banana and asked the boy to look at it carefully.
"Can you see anything?" he asked. The boy said he could not.
The priest asked him to concentrate harder. Suddenly, the boy said he could see a live image of a monkey in the banana.
The priest instructed the boy to offer the banana to the monkey. "The boy reported that the monkey accepted the banana," said Kamini.
"The priest then asked the boy to narrate the story of the robbery and ask the monkey to help."
Apparently, in front of Kamini's husband, son and the two other relatives who'd gone along, the boy was suddenly able to see exactly how the robbery unfolded -- on his thumbnail.
"He told my son it was like watching a video on YouTube," said Kamini.
The culprit was immediately identified as a neighbour's son.
Kamini's husband and son had both lived too long in the city to unquestioningly accept what had happened.
However, for the other villagers, apparently, the word of a monkey inside a banana was good enough.
"They advised that the best course was to accuse the neighbour directly, or through the panchayat," said Kamini.
When a whole bunch of villagers reached the home of the suspected thief, they found only his mother at home. The son had been absconding since the night of the robbery.
She wailed and asked for forgiveness, which seemed suspicious because she maintained she knew nothing about the robbery.
The villagers counselled Kamini's family to press for their money to be returned by the thief.
What was the point, they argued, of involving the police and possibly paying them a cut of the recovered sum when the threat of being an outcast could compel the alleged thief and his family to return the stolen money?
Kamini's family is now in a fix. They aren't really sure if the alleged thief did it.
They can't go to the police either, not with the monkey in the banana investigation having gone this far.
Also, they have no physical proof linking anyone to the crime.
Meanwhile, the alleged thief is still absconding. His mother simply wails any time anyone attempts to talk to her.
And Kamini and her family, short of a huge sum they'd toiled an entire year to save, are left wondering if the outcome would have been different if they'd filed an FIR with the police -- or if they should continue to place their faith in the hands of a monkey in a banana.