I was not shocked. The room did not look like that of an undercover agent. Adequately lit, curtains open, handful furniture; most noticeable of which was the center table decorated by an unlit candle. You would be surprised that crime reporting is not as dramatic as it seems from the one hour investigation shows on TV.
And here I was, sitting in front of a person the age of my younger brother, not a hint menacing, but a bit confident than me.
He had been staring at me for a minute when I could not resist.
“So you have a story for me.”
Now this better be good. The guy had woken me half past mid night. I would not let a false call ruin my slumber especially when I had to visit my family early morning… a visit I was looking forward to. You can hardly blame me. We were throwing a party for my younger brother, who finally made it to the Local Police. Aaah finally a police recruit in our family.
“Yes, I am sorry I bothered you at this time, but my people were not expecting this”. He took out a box of cigarette from his faded jeans.
“Can you give me a brief background? Who do you work for,” I asked refusing his offer to smoke.
“I don’t work for any one. I am sorry for lying to you.” He was not at all. “I am not part of any big fancy undercover operation. See you wouldn’t have come running to interview a self-employed in the middle of the night. Would you?” he grinned.
“See Mr. Naveed,” he went on “a little lie doesn’t hurt anyone if we do it for the sake of society”.
I stayed silent. To tell you the truth I was not afraid. I had seen worse in my 3 years of crime reporting.
“But I promised you a story and I will give you a good one. See my friend Chandio, who is in the other room, had a crazy idea a month back. You can’t blame him. Even you can go crazy if someone robs you thrice at gun point. I bet half of this city is crazy since we have been mugged at least once in our life time and oh Mr. Naveed! Once you see that loaded barrel pointing at your face, you can never go back to who you were.”
His eyes were no longer on me, must be savoring a past memory of getting mugged.
“So I found Chandio crazy as well when he let me in his brilliant idea after his third mobile snatching. He told me what if we do the same. What if we start mugging the muggers? No ethics would disapprove this. We would take what does not belong to them. Like Robin Hood. But we would give it back to ‘us’… Mr. Naveed, don’t judge us. We were very poor at that time,” He added a pretentious soft touch to his voice.
He puffed on the cigarette and then continued “I acted as the bait talking on my mobile on the crowded Bank Street. You would have heard stories of people getting robbed on Bank Street. It’s the kiblah of muggers. We took the game to them. I stood there nervous, with my iphone naked to people.
Trust me Mr. Naveed, it was not even 30 awkward minutes when someone nudged me from behind. For the first time in my life I was happy to see the cold barrel pointing towards me. I handed my phone without giving him the pain to ask. Soon after, Chandio followed him on his Honda 70 and on an empty street…ran over him. Ofcourse, Chandio took my mobile and the mugger’s satchel filled with shining touch screens.”
I was glued.
“Mr. Naveed…the mugger must have had a broken leg and we could see passersby gathering to help him. Had he known the same people he mugs everyday are coming to help him, he probably would not have done so. See Mr. Naveed we were not only changing our fortunes… we were changing lives.”
He seemed proud.
“Mr. Naveed it was all going good. The crime rate at Bank Street dropped. We hired two day workers from Lyari to assist us. Don’t be surprised… we followed the contracting model.”
He grazed the burning end of cigarette on the table.
“Times were good … till this evening when Chandio hit a mugger at sea view who had just snatched my mobile and watch. Apart from the stolen goods, something else caught our eyes… his ID.”
He looked deeply in my eyes and continued “We were expecting it might catch your attention as well.” He relaxed the stare, smiled and then shouted “Chaandio! Bring out our guest”.
With the sound of each footstep, I wished to maintain my poker face but my heart sank as I stared at the bruised person accompanied by Chandio.
Mom would not be so proud when she finds my younger brother missing tomorrow.