My parents were out for the weekend. My sister and I had been dumped, rather unceremoniously, at my grandparents' place in Hazra. Located near the noisy, bustling, and dusty SP Mukherjee Road, it was far cry from our quaint house in New Alipore.
After dinner and a few games of chess against Grandpa, we tucked into bed. Grandpa and I in one room, my sister and Grandma in the other.
As was customary, Grandpa said his prayers before bed, and made me join in. I had an uneasy night what with all the weird traffic sounds and lights from the main road. My light sleep was suddenly disturbed by a jolt along the bed. I opened my eyes a crack. It was still dark outside. Grandpa was sitting up. I assumed he was going to the toilet, I shut my eyes again.
A weird rustling sound continued, I opened my eyes again, wanting to tell him to go to sleep. He had slipped into a faded t-shirt, wearing it the wrong way around. Then, he looked under the bed, and located his slippers. Grabbing a large bag, he got up. What was he doing, sleep- shopping? Lifting his feet up high with each step, he crept forward steadily.
My curiosity aroused, I got up in bed. My watch showed the awkward time of 3.30 a.m. His back was to me, so he didn't notice. The sight of a 70-odd year old man sleepwalking like this seemed so strange, I couldn't control a giggle.
He turned around with surprising agility, his large, owl-like eyes probing through the darkness to locate the source of the sound. He clamped his hand on my mouth to silence me. He led me through the main gate of the apartment, and up the stairs, where he had rented out a floor to a computer institute. When we got to the third floor, he took out a bunch of keys.
The room, when it wasn't full of students, served as a cyber café. But it wasn't the main room that interested Grandpa. He took a right turn into another room, and we entered what looked like a shabby storehouse. He took two confident steps and turned on a light. His tenants trusted him with all their secure teaching material, and here we were, robbing to God-knows what.
Grandpa suddenly whispered, "Lend me a hand beta…" I went closer. He was crouched on the floor, his 'shopping bag' open. A large stack of paper was strewn about towards one corner.
I helped him pile it all into his bag. After filling it, we hurried down. It was now 4.45 by my watch, and we went to bed again. I didn't even try to sleep.