Alms: a short story

Saturday:

'Tok-Tok, Tok'

The delicate rattle on the door could not intrude the Sid’s sleep. He adores his Saturday morning sleep as much as he loves Aloo Paratha.

He is a loud snorer and his subconscious mind had not been tuned to wake up for door knocks. So, his body exhibited no movements, except the expansion and contraction of his diaphragm paraded with rhythmic up and down belly movements. Due to his inert response, the minor rattling turned into a clamour.

'Dam-dam-dam'

The bang frequency waves now barged into his ears and disturbed the subconscious mind. Now the subconscious mind caused the snoring to mellow down and the bulged belly stopped it's to and fro motion. It took a second for the conscious mind to realize that the woody uproar was from his door.

Like a thunderbolt striking his body, he shook himself from the bed and made way to open the door. Turning the door knob, he pulled the door to see banger.

An unknown gentleman stood opposite to him who was dressed in formal apparels, his collar embellishing a tie and neatly polished shoes displaying the Bata logo. His hands held a leafy folder, with his right fingers tucked in between. Grimacing at the bloke, Sid started, "What do you want?"

"Sir, am coming from 'Kaapaathroam Children's Home', where we save female children from trafficking and take care of their living..."

None of the contents went into the Snoozy Sid's mind and he curtly replied, "Not interested to help" and was about to close the door.

The hombre continued, "Not for me sir, please take a look at the children's photos and give for them".

"I help a lot of children on the street. I can’t help everybody who knocks. Kindly leave".

"That's good sir. Saving these children will be a blessing for you sir. You can take a look at the ID card sir"

Sid just glanced at the card and stared at the door lintel to give away some bucks to send off this hounding man.

During his thinking spree, the man added, "Sir, you work in an IT company and must be earning a lot. Helping these is not a big dea.."

Sid interrupted, "What did you say? We earn a lot? Is it? Now, please get lost. You disturbed my sleep and now you insinuate rubbish about my job. Please get lost before I loose my patience"

Some more red blood corpuscles assembled in his eyes. Sensing the irritation on Sid's eyes, the fellow left like a monkey that takes leave after messing up the house.

Sid slammed the door behind and took a look at the digital wall clocked. The LEDs flaunted, 10:13 AM.

Siddharth Singhania is not a man without compassion. He tries his best to help people around him. He meticulously plans his budget for social activities too with the meagre salary he gets from 'Scope International' (a susbsidary of International Bank Standard Chartered), where he works as a Senior Support Manager at Karapakkam branch. He won't mind spending few bucks on charity, but the audacity and loose words let out by the man angered him.

After taking a sip of water, he tried to sleep. The nerves that shot up in his brain killed all sleeping cells. He took out his mobile and he entered the mammoth cyber world.


Sunday:

Sid woke up from sleep writhing his bleary eyes. Turning to the right side, he opened the screen lock to check time. It was 12:36 PM. Having bruches after a hefty sleep is usual routine for him in weekends.

Yawning like a hippo, he switched on the mobile data made his way to the sofa. Taking the TV remote by the right hand, he switched on the flat device. Few seconds, the speakers sounded the commentary of yesterday's Pro-Kabbadi match between Patna Pirates and Puneri Paltan. Glancing at the replay of Pardeep Narwal's dubki, he moved his gaze back to the mobile screen. Frowning, he skimmed through the WhatsApp message received from a unknown number.

+8808099994302
Dear Siddharth Singhania,
Please be informed that your mobile is hacked and the entire data is transparent to me. Your mobile activity is being watched.
Don't act too smart and report to the cybercrime department. Before you report, all your photos and data will be made public. If you want me to release control, transfer 5000 INR to the below PayTM wallet:
+91 8649832157
Hope you don't want to mess up. Do it quickly.
Regards,
Bangladesh Cyber Army

Siddharth couldn't trust the authenticity of the message. So, he replied:

"Ha ha. Nice game. Better luck next time"

Instant blue ticks and reply was:

"Don't waste time. Here's is a sample of your data. Yesterday, your last message on FB messenger was to a girl named Sabina. You had sent a photo. Want to see it?"

Immediately, Sid moved to messenger app. Yes it was. He had sent the photos taken at Wangs Kitchen, Perungudi where their entire team had gone for Birthday treat of Sabina. Shooting with his esoteric iPhone camera, he had shared individual pictures with Sabina, besides sharing group photo on his FB Timeline. Now this message from a Bangla hacking team brought sudden sweat droplets to his forehead. Blinking with his eyes for the next course of action. He replied:

"I acknowledge, it's serious. Give me sometime". He tried to buy sometime saying, "I don't have the money you ask for. I will get from my friends and send it to you".

"Baked idiot. Don't you know, when I say I have all your data, it also means E-mail alert you get from bank. Will I ask for money, which you don't have. Chalo, now don't waste my time.”

"How can I be sure, you won't have access on my data after I transfer?"

"Man, this is a ethically coded ransomware, where the data is freed when the task amount is received. You don't have any choice right now, but to believe. This is not a Blue Whale challenge to demand life. Only few bucks is not big deal to you".

"Why do outsiders think IT people as cash-cows?", he thought to himself how to get himself free.

The Bangla man’s chat window popped up with a message.

"I don't have time. Just reply 'deal'. Any other reply would cost you much. Got it?"

With his heart thumping loudly, he muted the commentary and replied:

"Deal"

"That's my boy. Good decision. You have five minutes left for transfer"

"Okay"

He took out his wallet, topped up his PayTM wallet and transferred the amount to the number.

"Done"

"Cute. Next time, be careful with links you click in unverified websites so that you don't have to loose your money to me"

"It's a bad day for me that I get advice from a cyber criminal. Get lost", replied Sid and blocked the number.

A bulb lit up in his mind and he opened True Caller App and keyed in the Bangla number.

"+8808099994302 is not yet available"

The same message was flaunted for the PayTM wallet number too.

Today, he had encountered the perilous cyber world.


Monday 11:15 AM; Scope International, Karapakkam:

Sid pulled a Tetley Green Tea sachet from the coffee bay and moved back to the cubicle checking his mobile. A mail had come from an unknown person, which gave answer to the money he lost yesterday:

From: jeeva.nayak@gmail.com
To: sidu.singhania@gmail.com
Subject: Donation Receipt
Dear Siddharth,
Am Jeeva Nayagam, Sabina's brother-in-law. I know you must be tensed in loosing 5000 bucks in a scam.
I am the one who came to your doorstep to get money for the Kapaathuroam home, where I am a volunteer. I was about to reveal that I'm Sabina's relative, before which situation went out of hand because of my loose words. Apologies.
I did not hack any of your data. Just played games with Sabina’s chat history. I have attached the receipt of the donation in this mail. Please be assured that your money is safe in our hands. Also, have enclosed the previous reports of the home detailing the activities conducted at various capacities. Will update you further.
Thanks.
Best,
Jeeva

Reading the embarrassing mail, he smiled to himself how a simple ethical hacking hoax could garner alms for the needy.


… a simple ethical hacking hoax could garner alms for the needy.
The end