Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Crossing

About two days back my wife and I were crossing Park Street at a particularly congested place. Seeing a zebra crossing we went towards it and patiently waited and for the flow of cars to stop, with a few tentative attempts when things seemed crossable. This is just a few steps away from St Xavier’s College, and Park Street Police Station. A constable was on duty. He watched us for a bit of time. Now I am not amongst those who find a fantastic rush of adrenaline negotiating rush hour traffic rushing to his/her destination as if the fate of the world and beyond depended on it. Plenty of people have accidents on the streets and I have no intention of becoming another statistic. My wife is not the patient kind, but she also understands that losing limb or life is not an option. So we take care before crossing anything.


This particular place has a peculiar character. It has a “T” crossing. Since it is a one-way road cars freely flow into the stem of the “T” and they as freely move forward. There is nothing that stops them as such. Only the signal in the last crossing thins the flow a little. So even the best civic mannered person would have to be dashing and we were preparing ourselves for such a window of opportunity. But this was not to be. The cars kept on coming relentlessly. It was almost 15 minutes and we were naturally getting impatient. All on a sudden we saw this constable coming running, taking a hard look at the two of us, then going to the middle of the road, stopping all the cars, and waving towards us to cross the road. We did that and I nodded a bit of thanks which he regally brushed aside – a gesture which doubled as a signal for the cars to move forward again.

The question is: why did he help us? It was not his sense of duty, which is almost negligible in most Indians these days, particularly in the law-business kind. Did it have something to do with something of sexual nature? He was looking at the both of us – so can it be that he was quite taken in with either of us and was trying to impress us with his show of strength as all juvenile minds do? I did say this to my wife and she was none too happy with this explanation – according to her apparently I was the one with the juvenile Freud-infested mind! What else do you expect from a person standing practically in front of a Mother and Childcare Hospital! The other option was that this cop-man was trying to impress his superiors or some ministerial personage – but at that time of afternoon happy-hour all the big bosses were safely tucked in within their dreamy bubbles.

The explanation I am left with is one of human nature. I have this favourite story by Shibram Chakrabarty. This gentleman, in the story, was arrested by the police (in our pre-independence days) for slapping a white woman. When the British judge wanted an explanation he gave an elaborate explanation. He was in a bus with the lady. When the conductor came she opened her big bag, brought out a small purse, then closed her big bag, opened her small purse, took out a coin, closed her small purse, opened the big bag, put the small purse inside, then closed the big bag. By this time the conductor had gone away. So she opened her big bag, took out the small purse, closed the big bag, opened the small purse, put the coin inside, closed the small purse, opened the big bag, put the small purse inside and closed the big bag. By this time the conductor was back. So she opened her big bag, brought out a small purse, then closed her big bag, opened her small purse, took out a coin, closed her small purse, opened the big bag, put the small purse inside, then closed the big bag. Again the conductor was gone. She opened her big bag, took out the small purse, closed the big bag, opened the small purse, put the coin inside, closed the small purse, opened the big bag, put the small purse inside and closed the big bag. The whole thing was repeated twice.

The judge could not take it anymore. He came down and slapped this man. And the man said, ‘Your Honour, I have done nothing more!’

I believe this was the condition of the constable. He saw us go two steps forward, then come back one step, then jump back another three steps because of a too enthusiastic car coming towards us, then go another couple of steps forward, and then come back again on the pavement, and then venturing again and so on. He simply could not take it anymore. It was not the goodness of his heart, but simple impatience. He simply got sick of us and doing his duty, he got rid of us.

Apology: I am probably doing injustice to a good soul. We thank him for whatever little he did for us. Even a little is much in this world.

3 comments:

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Every little bit of goodness we encounter (esp from genetically hostile species like the police) is to be thanked for, esp. in these terrifying times when badness rules unfettered.

Sayani said...

its really astonishing to get such gesture from "police"


But yes park street i know :)
i believe person who crosses park st and shyambazam, ...need nt worry in any other junction :P

btw that's really gud story of shibram chakraborty

liked it
take care :)

swagata-for you a thousand times over said...

I am still laughing...all hail the copman!...but sir what a way of relating it..fantabulous!

 
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