The Stolen Coin and Other Short Stories is a simple book, containing 9 short, riveting stories. Most of the stories revolve around the narrator's life in some point of time, confessing about his kleptomaniac nature. In most of the stories the protagonist is either a teenager or small boy.
Excerpt from The Stolen Coin:
India, my beloved country had gotten independence on 15th August 1947. Wow! Was I so close to those years when nothing great had been established in the country? Neither the constitution nor infrastructure! There, flowed rivers of blood on the railway tracks as India had to face the perils of partition.
During school days, I was a prized student of history and geography. Hence, instinctive veneration towards historical monuments and items was deeply trodden in my kleptomaniac nature.
It was one cold noon in January. I was seated lacklustre at my desk, facing a heavy dirty computer monitor, and no major work was available for my area of interest. The company ran by a black-money making builder; his son was the owner of it.
She came in, trying to walk straight amid the pointed out edges of the furniture. Our workplace was neither bright nor very dull; the ambience there was of like a middle class studio flat. From the ceiling hung three quiet fans in a row. She had kept them off since the morning. She smiled broadly at me and took her seat comfortably; I glanced at her disdainfully as I never liked her smile. She had an ugly smile.
“Where is your tea?” she inquired.
“I have gulped it,” I replied, feigning heavy tone, slightly to mock her.
I wrapped in both the ends of a slumping away blazer and looked fixedly in the monitor, keenly searching about good poems on humanity. She drew herself closer to my seat, I liked it instantly, but I feared others reaction hence with squinted away eyes I checked about others position. She thrust her hand beside the monitor and grabbed my wallet in her hand; I shrank a little in little embarrassment. There was nothing enticing about the wallet content. All she could take out was that coin. Since its arrival, I had been assuming it as my financial mascot. “What’s so special about this coin,” she asked, focusing her wide eyes upon me.
“Can’t you see the date on it?” I replied in rich condescension.
I stretched my hand and took possession of it.
“See…the date…it was minted in 1950. This coin is almost 62 years old from now. Then, many of India’s freedom fighters were alive and active.”
As manifested, she snatched the coin from my hand and I very much being in the office couldn’t quibble with her like a school child. She grinned happily and prattled hard on her seat. Indeed, she was awed to hold that heavy coin in her hand as she had found a deity or mega cosmic energy in it. And, I sat grimaced; feared she would not return my lucky charm. I was quiet and snubbed. Then, she blurted, “I am going to keep this coin with me as a gift from your side.”
“No…It’s my lucky coin….rather mascot; I cannot give it to you.”
“Now, it’s mine….it is better if you forget this.”
“Omy………my dear it’s a valued possession for me, I have never gone poor since the day I received it from an old man.”
“When I was a waiter in a hotel an old man had given it to me as a valued tip. Its quite personal, return it to me, I will get something nice for you, maybe a book or some other gift.”
She turned to her side, seemed unaffected by my pestering. I was pondering, how to get it back, and repented upon keeping my wallet so open for passers-by and other colleagues. I had that coin with me for more than seven years. Somehow, I had always a strong impulse that that coin was proving lucky to me gradually. I had heaped up enough veneration to make it act as a source of positivity from where Perennial River of financial success will keep flowing all my life. Now, in a moment’s time this little stumpy girl ruined that entire holy endeavour. I felt crippled.
As the day wore on, foggy evening began spreading chilled streams inside our office. I huddled both my hands into the blazer pocket and thought of persuading her. Outside the office, on Bombay-Poona highway the evening traffic increased all of sudden, rattling and honking of vehicles irritated everyone inside.
The HR manager, as young as I, peered all around as she was the janitor of the company. Behind her cubbyhole - workplace, all the three major spacious cabins were empty; no authoritative dishonest person had come to the office hence the day passed away like a mild picnic day for many of the employees.
Before she could leave and forget everything about that coin, I put all my attention on her and said, “Lady, this coin hold bad energy, whosoever got acquainted with it, faces bad quirk of fate, like me as you know that I am an orphan and live a shattered life. Return it to me otherwise you may face some unusual or unpleasant things in your life.”
“Ohho…….now you will say all these bad things. But, I am not going to give it back……..understand.”