Over the years, as an army child, I’ve lived in many homes in cities across the country. From all my experiences, one memory, in particular, remains etched in my mind, about when I helped nab some thieves. Well, it was my mother who did the actual deduction and put in all the leg work, yet I’ve never been averse to giving myself a pat on the back for my part in this!

During the early 1980’s, my father was posted to Pune in the Southern Command Headquarters and my mother had joined the Armed Forces Medical College as a doctor demonstrator. I was in school. 

Once we were allotted fauji quarters, my working mother employed new servants, a small family of a husband, wife and teenage son. They brought their belongings on the back of a cycle and settled down well in the attached servant quarters. 

One day, the maid’s husband was requested to help in settling some boxes in the tiny overhead attic. A few days afterwards, the maid declared herself unhappy working with us, as some tea had spilled on her hand from her glass of evening tea in our kitchen. Suddenly, she didn’t want to work here anymore. Efforts were made to change her mind, but she wouldn’t budge from her stance. 

Priya Khanna

Well, on the Saturday the servants were to leave, my father went to his office, and my mother went to hers. I was home from school and didn’t have anything better to do than watch the servant couple load their luggage onto a bullock cart. As they made several trips to get their stuff, I struck up a conversation with the bullock cart driver about his bull. Another maid was employed and life went on as usual for our family until the day my father was invited by his senior to join him for a game of golf on the weekend. 

Again the attic was accessed and this time my father climbed up himself to take out his golf clubs. While removing his golf clubs, he shifted the box in which was stored his record collection and found it to be suspiciously light. On opening it, he found it was completely empty. Now he started looking around the attic and many boxes were found to be lighter than before and others were missing altogether. 

Panic buttons were pressed and after putting two and two together, the conclusion was reached that the earlier maid’s husband was the mastermind of the domestic robbery. 

Suddenly the maid’s urgent departure on a flimsy pretext made complete sense; and when excitedly I told my mother about how I had watched them leave on a bullock cart drawn by a hefty bull named Kaliya, all became crystal clear. “They came with their luggage on the back of a cycle and left on a bullock cart? Strange,” mused my mother. 

An FIR was lodged at the local police station and suspicions were shared with the constabulary. However, when the police didn’t show much urgency to locate the thieves and my father felt we should let the police do their job, my mother decided to take matters in her own hands. 

Armed with just the name of the bull, Kaliya, my enterprising mother, visited the area where the bullock cart driver was presumably from. After asking the locals if they knew of a bullock cart driver with a bull named Kaliya, my mother tracked down the bull owner and confirmed that he had indeed visited our army house to pick up some luggage. He was asked where he had deposited his passengers and armed with the address he provided, the information was promptly handed over to the police. 

Needless to say, the thieving couple were completely shocked when they were found so quickly and everything that they had stolen was recovered from their possession. Unfortunately, the records they had tried to play, were completely scratched and ruined, so my parents had no choice but to bid farewell to their prized musical collection. 

I’m sure the thieves were punished by the courts for their actions. My father was very proud of my mother, while I, on the other hand, was lavishly praised by my grateful mother for providing the vital clue that helped her to catch the thieves and recover the family’s belongings. 

In spite of the decades that have passed since the incident, I still feel terribly proud of the part I inadvertently played in helping my mother catch the thieves. Besides that, I have had first-hand knowledge of the truth of the saying, ‘God helps those who help themselves’ and that sometimes, Moms can prove to be more determined than Dads.

An offspring of two fauji doctors, Priya Khanna is now a full-time, stay-at-home fauji wife and mother to a teen terror and a gorgeous golden cocker spaniel. When she’s not reading, Priya Khanna is likely bingeing on a crime series on Netflix and reminiscing about the time when she was jetting all over the world for her work as an instructional designer with a Gurgaon MNC.