A day at the Police Station

So how do you say your wallet was stolen?

I think….

We do not go by what you think. Did you or did you not see him take your wallet?

These other guys in the auto kept pushing me around and they literally thrust me out of the auto when we got near my destination. And the auto rushed away without even waiting to collect the fare. Isn't that sufficient grounds for suspicion?

That is not the answer to my question. You think you will teach us our job? Suspecting is our job, not yours. You only tell us the facts. The only fact we have here is you have lost a wallet. Is that right?

His face shrunk and a scowl was forming. The man in front of him looked like a criminal himself – dressed in plain clothes, half shaven and a surly expression on his face.

The man raised his voice. “Am I right or not?

Yes sir. You are right. May I at least report a lost wallet?

Don’t you bloody try that tone with me! Who do you think you are? The minister’s son? Anyways I am in a good mood today. So I will let that pass. Lost items do not come under the crime investigation department. Go and talk to the officer in the lost and found department.

He literally jumped out of his seat. One could see a sigh of relief on his face.

He now found himself in front of a smartly dressed officer with a pleasant face. “How may I help you, Sir,” he asked.

I lost my purse. I want to report it.

Can you tell me where exactly you lost it?

I was coming in this shared auto.....

Where did you take the auto from?

From Kukatpally.

Did you have your wallet when you got into the auto?

I must have, I guess.

Please continue your story, Sir.

He let himself go and regaled his entire tale of woe. The police man listened patiently nodding his head now and then.

The he said gently, “But, Sir, there are so many police stations between Kukatpally and here. And you are not even sure if you had your wallet when you boarded the auto at Kukatpally. So how can you say you lost the wallet in our jurisdiction?

Seeing the puzzled expression on his face, the policeman explained, “Look here, Sir. Every police station has an area that falls under its jurisdiction. You can report only an incident that has occurred in that station’s jurisdiction.

So under which police station do I report this?

Since there is no evidence that it was lost in our jurisdiction, you can’t report it here. Maybe you can try your luck with the police station nearest to your home.

His voice was calm and gentle but there was an unmistakable finality to his tone.

Two days later 

He found himself in the police station again: a different police station this time: the one near his home. A short portly man in shabby clothes was with him.

Did you have your wallet with you when you left your home?

I did, Sir.

So you did not lose it near your home?

His face fell. He knew where this was all going. He got up from his seat.

His companion spoke quickly to the policeman in Telugu, “Elder brother, my master is from a different state. He does not understand how to interact with the police. I apologize on his behalf.

Turning to his master he said, “Sir, can you please wait outside in the car? Let me handle this for you.

He got up meekly and walked out. After what seems like ages but was actually only ten minutes, he saw his driver walk up to him with a satisfied expression on his face.

Sir, I have arranged matters with the policeman. You will have your FIR. He was asking for a thousand bucks. I told him you have newly taken up employment and not too well placed financially and managed to cut down charges. Five hundred please, Sir?

You mean a bribe?” His eyes burnt in indignant fury.

That is how things work here, Sir. First of all the incident is being reported two days late. Also the crime occurred in a different locality.

Yes. But the people at that locality would not register a complaint either and they said it is cannot be called a crime.” His voice was shaky.

Unless you cough up the dough no police station will register your FIR. I have managed to get the best rates for you. Do you want to niggle over a mere five hundred bucks?

But it is a matter of principles.” His voice however lacked conviction.

So who do you propose to handle this then? Without a FIR, you cannot apply for duplicates of your RC book and voter id card. Without the required fee, you cannot get a FIR.

He noticed the deliberate emphasis on the word ‘fee’. He paused for few minutes, his face in a deep thoughtful gaze. Then suddenly his face cleared. He took out two crisp five hundred rupee notes folded in half from his pocket and handed it over to the driver.

I can’t compromise on my principles but you do have a point as well. So let us do it this way. I have no clue about the working of the police force while you seem to be the expert on this topic. Therefore, I will let you handle all the liaisons with the police. Don’t get me into all the details. I have no interest in all that. Just get me the FIR. That’s it, and for your efforts I shall reward you with a thousand bucks bonus. Is that fine?

The driver nodded his head, a smile of understanding on his face.

Picture Credit: www.clipartheaven.com 

A Birthday Celebration

The boy looked smart in his white shirt, grey pants and the tie with red and blue stripes. His father stood by the door tapping his feet at the threshold as he skimmed through the newspaper. His mother was combing his hair as he tied his shoe laces. His dreamy eyes narrowed and his lips curled down slightly as he caught the strong smell of the coconut oil his mother had applied on his hair. He did not like the oil. It made him sleepy and got him in trouble at school for sleeping in class. As he got up from the sofa, suddenly he stopped in his track with a thoughtful look.

Today is my birthday,” he announced. His father and mother looked at him, their eye brows raised.  His mother was the first to speak up. “So what about it? We wished you as soon as you got up and you have already had some of the cake I baked for you.

And I have got you the Kodak camera you wanted,” his father added, adjusting his spectacles over his broad nose.

I want to wear my new clothes to school,” he said taking off his socks and shoes.

But you never liked having your birthday celebrated at school.”  He knew that sharp look in his mother’s eyes.  She already smells a rat, he told himself. He had to play his cards very carefully.
He tried to put on an innocent angelic look on his face and replied, “I realized the joy of sharing.” His mother still did not seem to look convinced.

But before his mother could continue with her questioning, his father stepped in, “If he wants to celebrate his birthday with this friends, so be it. Get him dressed in his new clothes and let us get going. It is getting late.

Mother made a small pout but went in quietly to open the cupboard to take out his birthday clothes. He had a smug look on his face as he untied his tie knot. In a few minutes, he was all set to go to school in his blue checked shirt and dark blue pant. He caught the strong smell of lentil and spices as his mother handed him his tiffin box. “Not Sambhar rice again!” he sighed.

He marched by his father’s side, his school bag hung to his back and his lunch basket in his right hand  swinging up and down as they walked through narrow road filled with stench of feces and urine. Here and there they could see small boys squatting on the side of the road, making their contribution of odorants to the road. It was quite a challenge in some stretches to maneuver one’s way past the buffaloes that  were tied to one side of the road, keeping  one’s eyes out for the traffic both ahead and behind and below as well to avoid stepping on something squishy squash.y
They stopped at a little shop just in front of the bus stand. “Which chocolate do you want,” his father asked him. Pat came the reply, “Get whatever is the cheapest.  Just ensure we have at least and hundred and twenty chocolates or so. We have sixty students in class and there are thirty more from the other section during the Hindi period.


Money does not grow on trees does it? I wouldn't want to waste your hard earned money, do I?” Again the boy’s face had assumed the serene angelic expression. His father rolled his eyes; he hardly seemed to believe what he had just heard.  But today was his birthday and birthday brought with it immunity from the usual scrutiny and questioning. It also meant he did not have to get squashed between people in a crowded bus in the sweltering June heat and land up in school literally dripping with sweat; his own and those of his fellow passengers. His father hailed an auto rickshaw and he got in and sat down one leg on top of the other, enjoying the breeze blowing against his face as the auto sped away towards the school premises.

Three hours later

The bell rang and a woman in her mid-twenties dressed in an elegant green Sari entered the class. She greeted the class in Hindi and the whole class broke out into chorus. Then someone mentioned about his birthday. She smiled at him, her pearly teeth glistening on her oval face and asked everyone to wish him in Hindi. There was again a chorus. Then he distributed chocolates to the students of the other section and went back to the seat. By now the first fifteen minutes of the class was over
Now it was the time for the part all students dreaded. “How many of you have not done your homework?” Ten boys stood up. He too was among them. She called them to come over to the front one by one. She asked each boy to hold out his hand and gave three sharp raps on the knuckle with the ruler and asked to go and stand outside the class. Finally it was his turn.

She looked at him with her large round eyes. He thought he saw a slightly cruel streak across those otherwise pretty eyes. There was a slight softening of expression. “Since today is your birthday, I excuse you. Go back to your seat. Do not repeat this again.”

As he returned to his seat, his gait had a merry rhythm and lots of energy to it. He kept a straight innocent face, while grinning from ear to ear inside his heart.  The new dress and chocolates had served their purpose well. 

Picture Credit : http://giftjaipur.com

For whom the bell tolls

A book of faces