“Move on driver...!” I said in a trembling tone getting inside and placing myself inside the vehicle. It was 8 pm in the night. Usually at this time I would be leaving my office with a smile, with my heart light and wallets heavy with cash. And that was not the case today. I adjusted the mirror of the vehicle so that I can take a look at myself. My hair was clumsy, face full of sweat and my eyeballs were painted red. I was looking at a face that has witnessed something gruesome. Something really gruesome.
I took my eyes of the mirror as I heard the vehicle stop. I got down and walked into the office. It was my office, my station. But something felt new for me that day. It was as if I had been reborn. I opened the door and walked in. Familiar constables stood up and saluted me. But everything seemed new. I called a constable and asked him to fetch a pack of cigarettes. He bought it in no time, saluted and departed. I responded with a smile. I slowly walked inside a lock up where the petty suspects are locked and locked myself in. “What are you doing sir?” a constable asked. “Nothing, just me leave me alone...” was my reply.
The lock up was dimly lighted. I removed my blood stained shirt and placed it in the corner. I placed a cigarette in between my lips and searched for a lighter inside my pant pockets. I took my cell phone and wallet out to make the search easier. I found the lighter and lighted the cigarette. I took my wallet and sat at the corner of the room.
The wallet was heavy. Heavy with cash. “What have I been doing this many days?” I murmured to myself. In the right of the wallet, there were two photographs. One was my family. It had me in the centre, my wife and my daughter besides me. Another photograph was my dad’s. Like all other kids in my country, my hero was also my dad. He was the reason for my achievements right from childhood to the present day. But he was not responsible for the thing I was doing for the past three years, after his demise.
I took a look at my shirt. I have been in this post for six years. Six years as the inspector of police. I still remembered the first day I wore it. Memories came flooding in front of my eyes.
As all other people, I too wanted to work in an air-conditioned office with working hours 9am to 5 pm. But my dad wanted me to become something more. He wanted me to serve the nation. But the family later convinced me to join the police force as my mom was not interested in sending me to the army. I cleared the examination and all other tests and was soon posted in the department. I wore the uniform the first time and was adjusting myself in front of the mirror. At that instant I heard clicking sounds from behind. I turned and saw my dad clicking the camera and taking snaps of me. He was smiling whole heartedly. “Look at my son!” he was exclaiming like a child. I have never seen my dad so childish like this. He came to me with tears in his eyes and hugged me.”I am really proud of you” I heard him murmuring near my ear. That was the most emotional moment of my life.
I solved around 20 cases in a span of two and a half years. I received a medal from the chief minister when I nabbed a child serial rapist. I was transferred to my home town after a span of three years. My father passed away in a few months after I got transferred. It was a huge loss. But I sensed I had to move on. “Failures, betrayals and demises of close ones are just speed breakers of life, you must slowly get over it and move on, you never stop on seeing a speed breaker in road, then why do it when there is a speed breaker in your life” my father had said when I failed in my school examinations. I decided to move on.
My family truly and deeply believed in god, and I believed in my father. I ordered a huge framed photograph of my dad and placed it in my room. I used to light a lamp before him everyday I left for work. I would repeat the same in the evening as the lamp would obviously turn off when I return after work.
It all started one day. It was the end of the month. Almost all government officials will be left with no or almost little money at that time of the month. I was not an exception. I was on duty when I received a call from my wife. She informed me that her insulin injection got over and needed it immediately. I hung up and thought of a way to buy it. Sensing my silence after the call, a constable enquired about the situation. I told him about it. He laughed heavily on hearing. “Why the hell are you laughing?” I asked. “Are you new to this job?” he asked. “Nope, this is my fourth year, but why?” I asked. “Sir Listen to me, a policeman’s wallet is never empty in India, leave this matter to me, you just accompany me” he said and started to walk. I followed him. He got inside the car and asked me to take a seat. I obeyed.
The travel took ten minutes and he parked the vehicle ten feet away from a famous liquor shop. He got down the vehicle and started to nab the people coming out of the shop in a vehicle. “Drunken drive sir” he screamed from outside. I didn’t know what to respond. He went on talking for quarter of an hour and released all the bikers. He came to me with hand full of cash. “Five thousand sir, four for you and one for me” he said lending the cash. I smiled. I sensed there was nothing wrong in it. Drunken driving is a crime and there was no harm in nabbing them. “Good deal” I replied to him.
From that day my wallet was never empty. I was rich any moment. As I gained experience, I could stop any vehicle, even if the driver had every paper perfect and clean, I could find a reason to get at least two hundred bucks from him. I started to enjoy my work two hundred percent.
My thoughts came back to normal when someone called me. “I was enjoying till this day” I thought and turned my head towards the lock up entrance. “Sir can I get something for you to eat, it’s getting late” a constable was saying. “No, thanks” I replied.
But this day didn’t go for me as I had expected, though it began well. Everything was moving on fine until this evening. I glanced my watch; it was 5:45pm. I had planned to go to home earlier as the next day was his only daughter’s eighth birthday. I thought of gifting her dress she had been asking me for the past three months.
At that time my cell phone buzzed. I took a look at the caller ID, it was my senior. “Hello, Rakesh” said the voice on the other side. “Yes this is Rakesh” I replied. “There had been an local accident this evening Rakesh, drunken drive it seems, three college guys knocked down a seven year old girl this morning, the child is in the government hospital near your commanding area, the guys are held up by three of my team in the hospital, you just go and relieve my team and take necessary actions to the suspects, okay? Bye” He said and hung up. Hearing this I was dumbstruck. “What if it is my daughter?” I thought myself, terrified. “Seven year old” my senior had said. I took my cell phone to call my wife. I dialled her number in a flash and waited for her to pick up. To add to my doubts, my wife didn’t pick up the call. It hadn’t happened before. I rushed to the hospital.
I was speeding myself through the roads to reach the hospital quickly. At that instant, I received another call from the in charge officer in the hospital, he reported me that the girl had died and from the evidences she is from the temple road street. Bile rose to my mouth. It was none other than my street.
My palms began to chill, I dialled my wife again. She didn’t pick up. I pressed the accelerator a little more. At that instant, I received a text from the in charge officer. It stated that a woman had come in search of the girl. I felt like crying.
I reached the hospital in the next ten minutes. I rushed into the entrance. I enquired to the passer by about the accident. He replied he didn’t know anything about it. I found the reception in my right. A woman in her late forties was sitting busy with some paper works. I enquired about the accident to her, and she guided me to the mortuary at the backyard of the hospital. I reached there in a couple of minutes and found the woman who had come in search of the girl. She turned towards me, weeping. I knew her. I knew her for years.
At that instant, I didn’t know what to respond. My cell phone vibrated, it was my wife. I asked her where she went. She informed me that she was busy getting ready as there was an accident to the small girl of the family who stayed just opposite to their home. She also added that our daughter seemed too depressed as the girl was the only companion to her. I replied her that I was in the hospital and asked her to join me soon. I hung up and stood there in confusion whether to let a sigh of relief or to console the woman opposite to me.
I was standing there still when the two officers in charge found me. “Do you mind viewing the body?” one of them asked. “No, let’s go” I replied. We went into the mortuary. It was dark, and the smell of dried flesh filled my nostrils. I had never seen that much corpses before. “It’s there sir, in the left corner” the other guided me. I moved alone to the place where the corpse of the young girl was placed. I was getting nervous with each and every step. I reached the place and saw the body. I had never seen such a gory sight. The face of the young child was absent, it has been crushed. Something was rising to my throat; I closed my mouth and ran out.
I saw my wife and daughter talking to the girl’s mother a few feet away. Near the mortuary door where the girl’s mother was sitting there was a school bag. It was full of blood. I took it in my hand. My shirt got some blood stains. I opened the bag and found the girl’s books. Inside a book there was a card. I opened the card. It was written “Happy birthday Nisha”. It was a birthday card for my own daughter. My eyes filled with tears.
After recovering from the site, I asked the two officers to get relieved as my constable has taken charge. They saluted and left. I called my constable and asked him to come near the mortuary. He came in the next couple of minutes. “Where are the suspects?” I asked him in a hard tone. “I released them sir” the constable replied casually. “What the hell?” I yelled with a wrath getting hold of his shirt. “That’s what we usually do sir, also one of them is the relative of the current minister, you couldn’t take any legal actions against him that much easily” the constable replied smiling. “So you release them without my permission?” I asked letting go his shirt. “Nope sir, I got 15000 bucks, money is what we need” he said. Saying this he gave all the money and went off. I couldn’t say a word.
I walked near my wife with the blood stained greeting card in my hand. My daughter got a glimpse of it and snatched it from me. Seeing it, she started crying loudly and felt like fainting. We took leave from the lady and took my family towards the entrance where my car was parked. My daughter was still weeping loudly. My wife gestured with her eyes to console her. “Nisha dear, please stay cool, see daddy has got some good money today, you were asking for your favourite dress, right? Come on let’s shop, wipe your face clean, and let’s go” I said in a consoling tone. My daughter just replied “Who wants your money dad? See she is gone, I have no one to share my food, play or fight with”. I felt a slap on my face. “See this dad” she showed him the blood stained greeting card. “How did she die?” asked my daughter. “Some drunken fools just smashed this innocent child, bastards” my wife was getting emotional. “And as always some money sucking cop must have let them free” my wife added. I felt like killing myself. I asked my wife to take my daughter home and rushed to my station and sat in the lock up.
I went home late that night after everyone had slept. I tried to sleep peacefully. I had two important jobs to be done the next day.
I got up early the next day, got ready, spent a moment silently in front of my dad, lit the lamp and left the home. I reached the bank in the next half an hour. I had saved all the money sucked from the public as my wife had mentioned in an account for my family’s future. I closed the account and withdrew all the money. I gave all the money to the orphanage nearby. My first job was over.
My second job was to nab all the suspects of the previous night case. That job got completed in the next two hours. For the first time in the last three years, I earned something that I had not earned in my life, SELF-RESPECT.
By 7pm in the evening, my works got over. I bid bye to all the colleagues and left home. I reached home in the next half an hour. I refreshed myself, and walked into my room. To my surprise, for the first time the lamp near my father was still burning.