‘What does “Caught Red-Handed mean?’ Mayank asked his mother as he was doing his English homework.
“When you find someone doing something wrong,” his mother answered as she read a book.
Vishal, the younger child, shot a covert glance at them as he tried to look busy solving a sum.
“What if nobody catches you red-handed?” Mayank asked.
“Doesn’t matter,” his mother said, looking at him. “Because you know you are wrong, and it’s very important to be right in your own eyes.”
“What about your short story competition, Mayank?” his mother asked after a pause. “Tomorrow is the last date of submission, I think.”
Mayank stopped writing and looked at his mother. “Yes. But I can’t participate this time.”
“Why?” His mother asked, looking surprised. “You had worked hard. And, it was good. I read that.”
“But, I can’t find my story. I kept it in my bag and now it's not there.”
After some time, Mayank sat at the dining table and his mother served him chapattis. “Where is Vishal?” she asked and called him.
Vishal appeared from his room with a paper in his hands. He approached Mayank and extended that paper. “Bhai, your story,” he said. “I am sorry, bhai. I stole this.” Tears slipped down his chubby cheeks.
Vishal continued, “You win every contest. I too wanted to…I couldn't write one. I’m sorry.”
“Okay, let’s eat,” his mother said in a calm tone as she put vegetable curry in Vishal's bowl.
“You are not upset? Not surprised?” Vishal asked.
“We are upset but not surprised,” said Mayank.
Vishal was baffled.
“Because we already know that you stole my story,” Mayank said. "We were waiting for you to tell the truth."
“We caught you red-handed.” Mayank smiled.
“We just didn’t tell you.” His mother ruffled Vishal’s hair. “That's very bad, Vishal but, I’m glad you accepted your mistake, eventually. I love you, beta.”
Vishal started crying and his mother collected him in an affectionate embrace.
“It's okay, finish your meal,” Mayank said. “Let’s help you with your story.” He munched on. "Do you have any plot in your mind?"