Marthand is a successful, yet unsatisfied gold merchant, with his shop on the main road in the heart of the city. Marthand has increased the sales manifold after he took over the reins of the shop and managed it successfully. However, there is one thing that always troubled him. Marthand hated his neighbor shopkeeper, Dhanunjay. Some years ago, Marthand and Dhanunjay were the best of friends. But, time made them bitter enemies and rivals.
Marthand followed his ritual as usual. He had to unlock the shop, make sure the boy cleaned the entire shop, pray to God, and then arrange the items for display beside the front door. After every two hours, he needed to check with his rival’s display and update his display. Unlike other shops in the vicinity, the display of these two gold shops keep changing frequently, merely to outdo the competition. Marthand always wanted to make sure that his display has better items than his colleague. As a part of his ritual, he would update his display and walk past Dhanunjay’s shop with a proud smile after every three hours. A few minutes later, Dhanunjay would do the same thing. Though, they never talked to each in the last few years, they knew everything about each other.
Marthand has tried in many ways to get rid of Dhanunjay. He wanted to buy Dhanunjay’s shop, too, but in vain. Marthand felt that his life would be happier if Dhanunjay and his shop were not in the picture. Adding more trouble is Dhanunjay’s son, Aravind, who wasted his youth by focusing on drama and theater always. Quite often, Aravind would walk around in his weird costumes meant for the stage and frighten people in Marthand’s shop. Marthand tried to warn him many times. But, Aravind has always been mischeivous.
Like any other day, Marthand and Dhanunjay updated their front displays twice already out do each other.
Two young men walked into Marthand’s shop. Marthand felt glad that they walked into his shop and his business started earlier than the usual business hours. One of them was talking on the phone while the other asked for some chains. As Marthand was pretty sure that these young men would buy something from their shop, he sent his assistant to fetch some soft drinks for them. Marthand felt that it is easier to lure customers into buying by offering them soft drinks on a hot, sunny day. Marthand felt that it worked at a deeper level than merely quenching the thirst of the customers.
Suddenly, to his surprise, the other guy on the phone gave his phone to Marthand and asked him to speak with the person on the phone.
The voice on the phone said, “Listen to me carefully. Your wife and kids are with me at your home. If you want them to be safe, hand over all the diamond jewelry in your shop to my boys who have come to your shop. If you try to call the cops or seek someone’s help, I will kill your wife and kids. Remember that my men have cameras on them and I can see all your actions. Without doing any drama, after a few minutes, start packing all the jewels and share them with my boys. If any other customers come in between, my boys will wait until they are done with their business.”
Marthand could his hear his kids shouting for help. He stopped himself from crying out loud.
Marthand was aghast. He did not know how to deal with the situation. He started following their instructions. He also noticed that these boys had guns in their pockets. So, he had to be careful not to get hurt or to let his family be harmed. To people outside, it appeared as though everything was alright with the shop.
Meanwhile, Dhanunjay updated his display and walked past this shop with a proud smile. After ten minutes, Dhanunjay walked past Marthand’s shop once again. Marthand was really worried about this entire hostage drama. He hated having to deal with Dhanunjay and his proud smile amidst this chaos.
After a few minutes, Dhanunjay’s wife, Malathi, walked into Marthand’s shop. Though Marthand knew her very well, he acted as if she is a customer.
Marthand politely asked her, “Hello madam. Welcome to our shop. What do you want to see today?”
She looked around at all the jewelry and said that she wanted to buy a diamond necklace for her daughter. Marthand knew well that she had no daughters. He was confused. But, he showed her some diamond necklaces. Meanwhile, she made a quick call to someone on the phone. She said, “I will take some more time. You guys carry on. I have to buy the necklace today. We have only one week for her wedding.”
Malathi took her own time sifting through the various necklaces. The two goons were losing their patience. But, they could not do anything because their boss asked them to wait if any customers come. They were asked not do get customers involved in this.
Marthand politely showed Malathi all the necklaces. She appeared to be a boring and confused customer. She spent at least forty minutes in the shop. Finally, she selected a necklace and told Marthand that she would buy it. She paid for the necklace and left the shop. Marthand wondered why she bought gold from his shop when she had her own shop.
After a few minutes, Dhanunjay’s son, Aravind walked into the shop with two other men. They were all dressed in formal attire like officers. Marthand wondered what this was all up to. Though he recognized Aravind, he acted as he did not know him.
Aravind displayed a badge and said, “We are from the excise department. We have come to search your shop. We have heard that you sell some junk to people as gold and cheat them. We got our analyzer machine with us. We need to check your entire shop.”
It finally occurred to Marthand that Dhanunjay sent his wife and son to help him.
Aravind gave his mobile phone to Marthand and said, “You can talk to the Customs department, if you have any doubts.”
The voice on the phone said, “Hey Marthand. This is Dhanunjay. Don’t worry about your family. I’m standing outside your home with the cops. We will go inside in a few minutes and take care of your family. I will call Aravind as soon as we get to know that your family is safe. He will then attack the people in your shop. Now, act as if you are talking to an officer before handing over the phone to my son.”
Marthand said, “Sure, Officer. Thanks.”
Marthand said, “You can check our shop. We have a legacy of four decades. You will not find any junk and there is no cheating involved.”
One of the guys started doubting this entire episode. He tried calling his boss on his mobile phone. But, his boss did not take the call.
Meanwhile, Aravind continued the drama as though he was a real officer.
After twenty minutes, Aravind got a call from his father saying that the head of the goons is arrested and Marthand’s family is safe.
Suddenly, Aravind and the two men who came with him attack the two guys and confiscate their guns first. After a duel for a few minutes, these two guys were handed over to the cops who got here in time.
Marthand thanked Dhanunjay and his family for saving him and his family.
Dhanunjay said, “I did not know anything initially. But, I noticed that you did not update your display and you had some tension on your face. So, I sent my wife to find out what was wrong. She told me that you were packing your stuff before she entered. She realized that you were about to give your jewelry to them. I thought that you would not do unless there is some strong reason. I checked with your assistant, but he did not know anything. So, I went to your house and overheard the conversation of the miscreant from the side wall. So, I told Aravind. He came up with this drama plan to help you.”
Marthand said, “I have been so troublesome to you all these years. Despite the rivalry, you saved me, my shop, and my family. Thank you so much.”
Dhanunjay said, “Our competition will continue. But, we will not be rivals. For a moment, when I knew that something is fishy, I wondered why I should think of helping you. Then, I realized that it would be bad in your situation. I imagined being in your place and felt very bad. So, I acted upon it.”