### Theory:

The story "Expert Detectives" is an extract from Sharada Dwivedi's novel, "The Broken Flute". The first paragraph of the lesson introduces two of its major characters - Maya and Nishad- siblings aged 10 and 7. They live with their mother in "an old three-bedroom apartment in the city of Bombay" **.

Being the narrator, Maya often refers to Nishad through the nickname she had given him- "Seven". Nishad was named after a scale in the Indian Music- Shadaj, Rishabh, Gandhar, Madhyam, Pancham, Dhaivat, and Nishad - famously known as Sa - Re - Ga - Ma - Pa - Da - Ni. Since his name is the seventh note in the swaras,  Maya calls him Seven. The lesson explores the imaginative, inquisitive, and creative minds of children, with the relationship and the interactions between the siblings as a backdrop.

The story begins with the brother expressing his views on a person they had just met. As seen in the prologue, the kids were playing with their marbles. Later, some of them had rolled into the house of Mr Nath, and they visit the latter’s place to retrieve their marbles. The rest of the story follows the children's speculation on the identity of Mr Nath, whom they barely knew.

Coming back to the story, we see how Nishad begins by telling his sister that Mr Nath "doesn't look anything like a monster". The line suggests that there are rumours about Mr Nath being a bad person. However, now that he had seen Mr Nath, Nishad believes that Mr Nath is not bad. Moreover, he observes that Mr Nath looks very thin. Hence, Nishad concludes that Mr Nath is poor and is unable to buy food.

When you read the first paragraph, you realise that Maya and Nishad are "walking back towards the clinic". So, there arise two questions: where are they walking from? And, why are they walking towards a clinic? Moreover, the line states that they had "walked back" towards the clinic. That reveals that they were not merely visiting the clinic but rather returning to it.

The siblings were walking back to the clinic

As revealed later in the lesson, the kids' mother is a doctor, and it is to her clinic that the kids are returning to. As far as the first question is concerned, it has been explained how the kids had been to Mr Nath's house to retrieve their marbles. Hence, the lesson begins when they were on their way from Mr Nath's place.

Nishad believed that Mr Nath was poor

To recall, we saw how Nishad commented that Mr Nath didn't appear to be a crook. He also mentioned that he looked skinny and was worried that he didn't have enough money to pay for his food.

In the second paragraph and those which follows, we see that the siblings put forward various theories and supporting arguments. To begin with, Maya rebukes Nishad's observation and rules out the idea that Mr Nath is poor. She believes that Mr Nath keeps a large sum of money somewhere in his room. She assures Nishad that Mr Nath was not starving, and she reminds him that Mr Nath had Ramesh bring him food from the restaurant downstairs. The last-mentioned information was given to them by a man called Mr Mehta.

The identity of Mr Mehta (the source of information) and Ramesh (the one who delivers Mr Nath's food) is unclear. However, it is safe to assume that Ramesh is probably a worker from the restaurant as he regularly delivers Mr Nath's food. Moreover, unlike Mr Nath and Mr Mehta, Ramesh is addressed through his first name without any title- as titles are often considered a sign of courtesy or respect. Hence, it is possible that Ramesh is a skilled labourer from the restaurant. Mr Mehta, on the other hand, could be a neighbour of Mr Nath and the kids.

Back to the story, Nishad explains why he believes Mr Nath is starving. He reminds Maya that, according to the information provided by Mr Mehta, Mr Nath did not go for any kind of work. Hence, Nishad argues that Mr Nath is poor and is unable to provide for himself.

Though Nishad has a point, Maya is quick to retort by reminding her brother that Mr Mehta had also told them how Mr Nath gets his food from the restaurant. Hence, if Mr Nath was jobless, then how did he pay for his food? She later speculates that he must have a large sum of money hidden someplace, perhaps in his trunk. She also supposes that the trunk is most likely brimming with silver, gold, diamonds, and all kinds of valuables.

A Trunk

Despite Maya's arguments, Nishad remains skeptical and rejects her theories as "rubbish".

From the paragraphs, it is evident that Nishad is sympathetic to Mr Nath's situation, while Maya is suspicious of Mr Nath's true identity. The stands that the kids have taken mirrors the age-old battle between heart and brain.

Was Mr Nath a crook on the run?

Maya stands firm on her speculation about Mr Nath. She is sure that he is a wanted criminal, for she soon starts talking about his scars. It is understood that Mr Nath is said to have scars, and that the siblings have learned about them from somebody else.

Maya claims that she never got to see the scars as his house was too dark. Nonetheless, she imagines that Mr Nath must have received those wounds during a shoot-out with the police. Here, one can see that Maya’s speculation on the scars is baseless as she had never seen them for herself.

A man with a scar on his arm

Nishad, however, is not happy with Maya's assumptions. He reminds her that they were burn scars rather than gun wounds. Furthermore, to add to the credibility of Nishad's view, it was their mother who had explained it to them. It is later revealed that their mother, being a doctor, was treating Mr Nath's burns.

Despite Nishad's explanation (and not to forget the fact that she never really got to confirm the scars for herself), Maya imagines a theory- one that is likely to be childish and implausible. She suggests that the police must have set Mr Nath's house on fire to force him out, and as a result, he got his burn scars.

'The police must have set Mr Nath's house on fire', says Maya

As expected, Nishad didn't buy her theory. He instead gave her a look that spoke uncertainty. The line- "Seven looked unsure"- could probably mean that he was unsure as to where Maya's speculations and theories were leading.

From the above paragraphs, it could be analysed that Maya's assumptions are born largely out of her whims and fancies. The line,  “perhaps the police had to set his house on fire to force him out”, in particular, explains how Maya is capable of imagining an unlikely situation to justify her stand and perspectives.

On a Monday after their mother's birthday, Nishad accompanied his mother to the clinic at Girgaum (also known as Girgaon), an area situated in southern Mumbai. Maya didn't follow them as she decided to spend the evening with her school friend.

Later, when Nishad and their mother returned, he told Maya that he had been to Mr Nath's house that evening. She felt annoyed and disappointed for having missed the chance. She wished that she had been with Nishad while the latter had met with Mr Nath.

Nishad described to his sister the events that unfolded at Mr Nath's place. That evening, when he went to Mr Nath's house, he knocked on his door loudly and asked him to "open the door quickly".

When the man opened the door, he had instantly recognized Nishad from their first encounter. Knowing Nishad as the boy who had come to retrieve the marbles, Mr Nath asked him whether he had come for the same reason.

Marbles

Nishad said 'no' and then took Mr Nath's hand and left a bar of chocolate in it.

Nishad offers Mr Nath a bar of chocolate

As Nishad was disturbed by Mr Nath's impoverished state and was convinced that the latter was starving, he decided to feed the poor man.

The act reveals both the innocence as well as the generous attitude of Nishad. Unlike Maya, Nishad's desire to meet Mr Nath arouse not out of curiosity but rather out of goodwill.

After Nishad had described his meeting with Mr Nath, Maya asked him if he had a chance to look at the trunk in his room.

Nishad, looking disappointed, informs his sister that he couldn’t get a good look at the trunk as Mr Nath never invited him inside.

But soon, Nishad gets excited as he smiles and reveals that he had gone downstairs to the restaurant and had a conversation with Ramesh.

Maya becomes thrilled and pats Nishad on his back for his 'detective-like' thought and action. She then hopes that Nishad had questioned Ramesh adequately.

Ramesh worked in a restaurant

Ramesh told Nishad that he always brings Mr Nath two meals a day, one in the morning and the other in the evening. Also, he brings Mr Nath two cups of tea, one in the morning and the other one in the afternoon. Ramesh claims that Mr Nath isn't very particular about what he eats. It is always the same food: he would have about two chapattis, some dal and a vegetable. Ramesh further revealed that Mr Nath always pays in cash and, to Ramesh's delight, tips him generously.

Mr Nath took the same food everyday

From Ramesh's account of Mr Nath, it could be understood that Mr Nath is unlikely to be poor, as he claims that he pays him in cash and also tips him well. Had he been poor, he wouldn't have tipped him "well", nor would he have paid cash all the time. On the other hand, he has only two meals a day.  So, why did he do that? Could itbe because he wasn't financially well off? Or, could it be because he was unwell and, as a result, had a general lack of appetite? Or was it a part of the diet prescribed by his doctors?

Though the lesson doesn't answer these questions, it is highly imperative for the readers to ponder over such questions to get a better understanding of Mr Nath.

The paragraphs are important not only because it reveals more about Mr Nath, but also because it further explores the relationship between Maya and Nishad. Apart from the differences in ideas and perspectives (between the siblings) that we had previously seen, the paragraphs show us the friendly relationship between them. For instance, Nishad is happier to please his sister and is excited when he gets a 'pat' from her. On the other hand, Maya is encouraging and genuinely happy when she realised that Nishad had collected some crucial information for their investigation. Hence, it is evident that the siblings have no rivalry, jealousy, or ill feelings between them.

After explaining Mr Nath's eating habits to Maya, Nishad informed her that Ramesh had told him something odd. Mr Nath had a visitor almost every Sunday, and it was always the same man. Ramesh would then carry two meals to Mr Nath's room- one for Mr Nath and the other for the guest. The visitor was a tall, fair, fat, and spectacled man. Ramesh further added that the guest was quite chatty, unlike Mr Nath.

Maya was delighted with the findings as she believed that they had made some valuable progress with their investigation. Thanks to Nishad, they had learned more about Mr Nath. They knew what he ate or that he tipped well. Moreover, they also came to know about the visitor.

Maya then praised Nishad for his efforts and then stated that in order to get the "crook", they would have to sort through all the data like experienced detectives.

The word "crook" put Nishad off. He groaned and expressed his disbelief that his sister would refer to such an ordinary-looking individual as a criminal.

Mr Nath's visitor was a tall, fair, stout man who wears spectacles

Maya, being sarcastic, referred to Nishad as smarty. She pointed out that crooks may appear fairly ordinary as well. She further cited a case of housebreaking she had read about in the papers the previous day- 'a Hyderabadi housebreaker who looked like any man on the street'.

Nishad, on the other hand, remained sceptical.

Was Mr Nath a good man or a bad man?

The next day brought an unexpected thunderstorm. There was rain, lightning, thunder, and subsequent flood on the streets.

Even though it was scheduled to be a school day, the heavy rain and the resulting traffic led to an unplanned holiday. The summer vacation was over, yet the students received a holiday (thanks to the rain).
There was a heavy downpour

Maya decided to spend the holiday wisely, for she sat at her desk in the bedroom with a sheet of paper before her.

Maya decided to make the most of the day by gathering the information relevant to the investigation and putting it down on a sheet of paper.
She began by giving a heading for her report: "CATCHING A CROOK". She wrote the words in large block letters. She also gave a subheading to the report she was preparing: "Expert Detectives: Nishad and Maya Pandit". It was followed by a tagline: 'By appointment to the Whole World'.

Maya was putting down the facts on a paper

The heading and its subheadings reveal more details about the characters. Foremost, the heading reflects Maya's perspective of Mr Nath's situation. Despite knowing that Nishad doesn't share her belief, she establishes her stand that Mr Nath was indeed a crook, declaring that the main agenda of their investigation was to find ways to expose and catch him.

The subheading is vital because we learn, for the first time since the beginning of the lesson, that "Pandit" is the surname of Maya and Nishad. Furthermore, she calls themselves the "expert detectives". This is also one of the two instances in the lesson where its title appears.

Despite their differences in opinion, Maya is not someone who believes that she is a better detective than Nishad. This could be evident from the manner in which Maya had positioned their names in the subheading. Had Maya been self-conceited, it is likelier that she would have begun with her name rather than Nishad's. Hence, it is possible that Maya distrusts Mr Nath for reasons of her own and not because she looks down on her brother.

The tagline, on the other hand, exposes the childlike qualities of Maya. Though an elder sister to Nishad, Maya is only ten years old. She is as young as any child of her age could be. The tagline reveals how she innocently believes that her and Nishad's work would benefit the whole world.

After giving the heading to her report, Maya spent about half an hour formulating the body of the report. While Maya was writing, Nishad was on the bed, lying on his tummy, with his chin cupped in his palms, and was reading comics.

Once she was done, Maya requested Nishad to listen to what she had written. He looked up questioningly, unaware as to what she was referring to. She then explained about her report and told him that she had listed all the facts they know about Mr Nath. She also added that the facts might help them to trap him.

Maya began to recite the facts she had compiled. The first fact was their suspect's name: Mr Nath. However, they knew that Nath was a surname, and as a result, they wanted to figure out what his first name was.

Nishad wondered aloud whether Mr Nath was the suspect's true name, and Maya explained that as most criminals use a fictitious identity, their suspect must have used one too. She then adds a question mark beside the name, turning the statement- "his name is Mr Nath" into a question, as in, ‘Was it his name?’.

The second fact was that the tenants at Shankar House described their suspect as mad, weird, and unfriendly.

The third was that Mr Nath was rude and didn't speak to anyone. However, Nishad disagreed with this one because he reminded Maya that he had spoken to them, and that their mother had said that he was courteous.

On the other hand, Maya informed him that Mr Nath only spoke to them because he had to and that he had to be courteous since he was being treated for his scars by their mother.

Maya proceeded to read out the rest of the facts.

The fact that Mr Nath doesn't receive any letters was the fourth fact. Nished nodded his head, indicating that he, too, thought the point to be valid.

The fifth was that Mr Nath had been residing in Room $$10$$ of Shankar House for more than a year. The line reveals the fact that Mr Nath is relatively new in the neighbourhood.

The sixth fact spoke about how Mr Nath didn't go for any work and instead spends the entire day in his room.

Maya explained how the kids and even certain adults at the Shankar House were terrified of Mr Nath, which became number seven on Maya's list.

The kids were scared of Mr Nath

The eighth fact was that Mr Nath didn't have any visitors other than a tall, fair, strong, spectacled man who came practically every Sunday for lunch.

Number
nine was that Mr Nath didn't go down to the restaurant to eat his meals, didn't care what he ate, paid the bill promptly, and left a generous tip.

With the $$9$$th fact, Maya's list had come to an end. She then asks Nishad whether she had covered all the relevant points.

Maya's list was complete, but she noticed that her brother was paying little attention to her and continued to refer to Mr Nath as a poor and lonely guy. Maya became enraged and almost yelled at him. She inquired as to how a crook could have friends. Through the rhetorical question, Maya was trying to explain how criminals do not make friends and, as a result, they are more likely to be lonely.

Nishad ignored her once more and remarked that Mr Nath at least had that one friend who visited him on Sundays.

'At least he has one friend', said Nishad

Meanwhile, hearing Nishad talk about the visitor, Maya's thoughts took an interesting turn. She had "a brilliant idea" in which she was certain that the visitor was one of their suspect's accomplices.

She reasoned that the accomplice might have retained all of the stolen items and gave a part of it to Mr Nath whenever he visited him.

Was the visitor an accomplice?

Nishad became enraged and informed Maya that if she continued to claim that Mr Nath was a criminal, he would never be a part of the discussion anymore. He went on to say that Mr Nath couldn't be such a terrible guy as he always gave Ramesh such big tips.

Maya had another amazing idea after that. She responded to Nishad's claim by suggesting that Ramesh might be aware of Mr Nath's past. As a result, the tips from Mr Nath might be a bribe to keep Ramesh from disclosing the truth.

Listening to Maya's baseless suggestions, Nishad became angry. He glared at Maya with his arms tightly crossed across his chest.

On the other hand, Nishad's response and attitude were getting on Maya's nerves. She was irritated and questioned Nishad about how they were supposed to progress with their investigation if he kept acting like this.

Nishad then declared that he would cooperate only when she would abandon the notion that Mr Nath was a wanted criminal. Like Maya, he too was firm in his belief and wanted his sister to acknowledge and adopt his idea that Mr Nath was innocent and poor. He later adds that Maya's attitude towards Mr Nath was upsetting and that she had been irritating him greatly.

The irritation was mutual, for his sister responded by stating that he was the one who had been irritating her.

She then questioned him why they were doing the investigation against Mr Nath when Nishad was against the belief that he was not an escaped criminal.

The question seems appropriate because, though it is clear to the readers why Maya was investigating, Nishad's purpose remained a mystery. He never believed that Mr Nath was a criminal, but the question is, why did he go along with the investigation?

Nishad looked thoughtful, and he pondered over the question. Then he said that he was doing the investigation because he was curious to know why Mr Nath was thin and lonely.

Through the investigation, Nishad desired to understand why Mr Nath didn't have any friends, looked poor,  and lived alone.

Maya tried to persuade Nishad by reminding him that if Mr Nath had lived at the Shankar House for over a year and had developed no friends, something was clearly wrong with him. Perhaps, he was scared that someone would notice him and report him to the police.

Nishad retorted back by suggesting that no one would have tried to befriend him in the first place. That could be the reason why he didn't have any friends.

Maya was puzzled as to why anyone would bother becoming friends with Mr Nath. She then calls Mr Nath a "nasty bear", denoting the characteristic of a bear. Bear is seen as a solitary animal that largely keeps to itself. Moreover, it is also naturally aggressive. Hence, Maya states that Mr Nath, like a ruthless and unpleasant bear, doesn't keep friends and is quite hostile.

Nishad was, nevertheless, stubborn. He said he didn't mind Mr Nath being a nasty bear. Instead, he wanted to be his friend since he liked him.

Maya was quite shocked to hear her brother say that he would become friends with Mr Nath, whom she believed to be a criminal. Maya was both angry and worried. She was angry because Nishad had refused to listen to her. On the other hand, she was worried for her brother as becoming friends with a crook could be a dangerous move. She then warned him by stating that he would be taken to prison with Mr Nath if he ever got involved with the latter.

She then inquired as to whether Nishad would like the scenario to materialise. Maya's questions and theories had obviously taken no effect on her brother. Nishad was unconcerned about them, and as a response to her question, he merely gave her a glare and quietly walked out of the room.