Stolen Goods

It was a Friday evening in the month of November. Meem Farhana made a plan to go from her residence in Rampura. to her very close friend’s wedding ceremony at the Officers’ Club in Iskaton Road. As her husband was out of Dhaka on that day, she decided to go alone, with only her daughter Zareefa and her son Zuhair for company.

During winter, every evening seemed to be so dark. Moreover, on that day it had rained a lot, which was a really bad sign. The sky was black, and clouds covered the moon. Even the early evening looked like the deepest darkest midnight. Yet Farhana had no choice but to go. How could she not attend the wedding ceremony of her closest friend Rina Chowdhury?

Because she had no private transport of her own, Farhana decided, as usual, to order a vehicle through her Uber app. After Magrib prayer, she helped her two children to put on their best clothes, and she dressed herself in her most beautiful finery. She and her daughter put on their most expensive jewellery, their most precious golden bangles, earrings, neck chains and rings.

At 7:00 pm she called an Uber car and started for the party with her children. She had also wrapped up a large gift, a microwave oven, for the newly married bride. It was an expensive gift, and heavy to carry, but she knew Rina would appreciate it. As they got closer to the Wireless Gate at Moghbazar, the car turned into a lonely road leading towards Bailey Road. Farhana did not like the way the driver had chosen to go, but she was in a hurry to get to the wedding ceremony, so she said nothing. The car continued on its way. Outside, the dark night seemed to press into the car. Rina felt cold, and pulled her Śāla* more closely around her body.

Near the Viqarunnesa School, at a very lonely point, the car slowed down. Suddenly, a group of three men, whose faces were covered with black masks, jumped in front of the car, forcing the driver to stop completely. Before they knew what was happening, the men pushed guns right in their faces.

“Hand over your money!” the gunmen shouted. “Give us your jewels! Give us everything! And hurry up!” they ordered.

Farhana knew she was in no position to argue. First she gave up the money in her purse, then her cell phone, then their jewellery was taken, and finally the wedding gift itself. The robbers even took the driver’s phone. Farhana gave the robbers everything as quickly as she could, afraid that these evil beings might harm her children. As they ran away, the thieves laughed, and congratulated each other on their clever plan. They boasted about the fine things they had been able to steal. As quickly as they had come, they disappeared into the darkness of the night.

Farhana was unable to breathe. Her children were crying with fear. Even the driver was shaking. It took several minutes before she was able to speak. After what seemed hours, though it was only minutes, and with a very heavy heart, Farhana managed to ask the driver take them back home. She no longer had any money on her, with which to pay him, nor any gift, nor anything of value with her at all. After this terrible shock, she had lost all desire to attend the wedding ceremony. The driver, still shaking, agreed. He started the car and began to drive back to Rampura.

It was now around 8:00 pm. Strangely, the traffic was not so bad, and the car travelled very fast. Clearly, the driver was in a hurry to drop them off, and perhaps go home himself. He was also so shaken up that he was no longer paying careful attention to his driving. Near Rampura Bazar, a CNG suddenly cut in front of them.

The Uber driver turned the wheel of the car suddenly, trying to avoid hitting it. Everything was moving so quickly. Suddenly, there was the sound of a heavy thump. They had hit something.

Now, they found themselves in the middle of an accident. The Uber car had crashed into someone who had been walking along the side of the road. When the driver got out of the car, he found a small thin girl lying very still on the road. She was poorly dressed and appeared to be only about seven or eight years old. The car had hit her so hard that she had fallen heavily to the ground. She was now completely senseless. Her head was covered with bright blood.

Several people standing nearby, who had seen the accident, came rushing towards them. Farhana got out of the car. Along with her children and the help of others, they carried the girl to the Better Life Hospital that was, fortunately, not far from the site of the accident. They pushed inside, through the heavy glass hospital doors. When the staff saw the young girl, covered in blood, they quickly rushed her to the emergency room. It seemed she had been out on the street on her own. No-one seemed to know who she was, and no adults came to claim her. Since she had brought the little girl for help, Farhana agreed to sign the hospital papers, giving permission for emergency treatment, as the little girl had no-one present on the spot decide this for her.

Farhana and her two children were so shocked that they sat and waited for several hours till the little girl came out of the emergency room. While they were waiting, Farhana managed to call her husband from the hospital phone and told him everything that happened. Her husband immediately bKashed 5,000 BDT for the medical costs, and an extra 2000 taka for Farhana’s trip home. Finally, at 10:00 pm, the little girl was out of danger and when she became conscious, she managed to explain to Farhana how to find the way to her house to tell her parents.

In an old shabby house in the furthest corner of Rampura Bazar, Farhana finally found the little girl’s family. Though the little girl’s mother was shocked to hear about the accident, she still tried to make Farhana and her children feel comfortable. She called her husband, who was out, to come back to the house immediately so they could go to the hospital together.

After several minutes, the little girl’s father arrived. When he saw Farhana and the two children, he looked very afraid. However, he thanked Farhana politely for all of her help, and for coming to tell them about the accident. He promised he would do whatever he could to repay her. Farhana could see how poor the family was. “Not at all,” she said, “Please do not think of it. It’s just as well that we were close to the hospital. Really, she’s going to be fine.”

Just after midnight Farhana reached home, empty-handed. She had eaten no dinner, and there was very little food in the house. She cooked some instant noodles, and after a simple dinner everyone went to bed. But Farhana couldn’t sleep at all. She turned over and over on her bed the whole night, thinking about the evening’s events, about the accident and about the great loss she had experienced. In the darkness and the quiet of the early hours of the morning, she prayed to the Almighty for a solution, and then made a plan to file a report with the local Thana authorities the next day.

When morning arrived, she had finally fallen asleep. Her children, too, were all sleeping deeply. Suddenly, the doorbell rang loudly. Farhana woke up with a jump. She quickly got up from her bed and rushed to the door. “Who could it be”, she wondered?

When she opened the door, there was no-one there. She looked around, up and down the street. Not a single person could be seen. “How strange,” she thought, and then she looked down. What she saw took her completely by surprise. She couldn’t believe her eyes. There, at her feet, was the gift-wrapped oven, and beside it, a box.

When she looked inside the box, there, right in front of her, was every piece of jewellery that she had lost the night before. “How strange”, she thought, “How can this be?”

In the middle of everything was a piece of paper. Farhana pulled it out. It was a letter. She began to read. At last, she understood everything. One of the cruel robbers was the father of the little girl who had been in the accident last night. He had gone to the hospital, and there had found Farhana’s address written on his daughter’s medical file. In his letter he apologised for his cruel treatment of Farhana and her family, and expressed his repentance for trying to steal from them. He begged Farhana to forgive him, and asked her to pray to the Almighty that he would be able to become a better man in the future. At the end of his letter, he promised to stop all his bad deeds from that day on. As she read what he had written, Farhana was overcome with emotion, and began to cry.

Just then, the phone rang. It was Farhana’s dear friend, Rina Chowdery. “Where on earth were you? We waited for ages. Is everything OK?” Rina asked.

“Oh, my goodness,” said Farhana in a tired voice, “You won’t believe what just happened…”

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*Śāla = shawl (a long piece of fabric worn by women over their shoulders and sometimes the head)

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Learning Activities

Vocabulary Lists: learn all of the words you do not already know from the following two lists…

1. High Frequency Words from the 2nd 1000 General Service Word List

accident avoid comfortable dinner
afraid begged congratulated empty
apologised boasted conscious evil
argue breathe cooked extra
arranging ceremony corner feet
asleep clever crashed forgive
attend clothes cruel guns
attention club deeds harm
hit managed rained sudden
hospital neck request suddenly
hurry overcome robbers terrible
immediately parents rushed thanked
inside phone shock thieves
instant politely shouted thin
jewellery pray / prayer slowed treatment
jump precious solution trip
lonely pushed staff wheel
lot quickly steal / stolen woke
loudly quiet wrapped  

 

2. High Frequency Words from the Academic Word List

adult file site
appreciate finally transport
authorities medical vehicle
exclusive residence  

 

3. Do you know the meaning of the words and expressions below? These are not high frequency, or common, words in English, so only learn these words and expressions if you already know ALL of the words in the two lists above, very well.

Almighty finery repentance
app gunmen robbery
bangles huge shabby
bride masks shawl
doorbell microwave oven thump
earrings noodles traffic
emergency purse Uber
emotion repay wedding

 

A. Find a synonym for the following words from the text:    

  1. ___________ personal (par.2)
  2. ___________ car (par.2)
  3. ___________ wore (par.3)
  4. ___________ costly (par.3)
 

B. Find an antonym of each of the following words from the text:

  1. ___________ confident (par.14)
  2. ___________ profit (par.15)
  3. ___________ problem (par. 15)
  4. ___________ closed (par.17)
  5. ___________ kind (par.18)
 

C. Comprehension questions: Answer these questions in your own words

  1. Remember: Where did Meem Farhana live?
  2. Remember: When and where was she going at the start of the story?
  3. Remember: Where was her husband?
  4. Remember: What happened on the way to the wedding ceremony?
  5. Understand: Why did Farhana pay for the little girl’s operation?
  6. Understand: Did Farhana pay the Uber driver? Why or why not?
  7. Understand: Why didn't Farhana recognise that the little girl's father was one of the robbers?
  8. Understand: What do you think Farhana said to Rina in their phone conversation at the end of the story?

 

D. Fill in the blanks with suitable words from the passage:

Meem Farhana had two (i) ___________ and she lived in (ii)___________. One November, on a Friday(iii) ___________, she planned to attend her (iv) ___________ friend’s wedding ceremony, but on the way, she was hijacked by some (v) __________ men. Later on she returned home without attending the (vi) ___________. On the way home, her car ran over a (vii) ___________. Instantly the girl was admitted into a (viii) ___________ nearby. Fortunately, she survived. Farhana called her (ix) ___________ for some money and went to the girl’s house in a (x) ___________ area.

 

E. Creative Writing/Speaking Activity

  • Work with a partner. Try to imagine the phone conversation between Farhana and Rina. What did Farhana say to Rina? What did Rina say in reply? Write about 10 lines of a short dialogue of that conversation.
  • When you have finished writing, ask someone to check your dialogue.
  • Practice saying the lines of your dialogue. Make sure to add lots of realistic intonation. For example, make sure to use a surprised voice or a worried voice. Think about how each person is feeling as they speak, and put that emotion into your voice too.
  • Act out your dialogue in front of other people or record it as a video and play it back.
  • Reflect on your performance. How did you do? Did you sound convincing? Which parts did you do well? Which parts did you have trouble with?