Tuesday, September 10, 1996
By the grace of policemen
"You scoundrels, what on earth are you supposed to do for this country? Why don't you try to do something worthwhile? You good-for-nothing boys. I know how to bring you on the track..."
I will never forget the dramatic situation I faced nearly a year ago when I went to Janasewa police station to file a complaint that my brother's store had been burgled. It was 7.00 am. I had a Mahabharat raging inside me to tell. I went straight to the counter and related all I could swiftly. Suddenly, the policeman took off his cap and yelled out, " I know, you Kathmanduites are all fools. You don't take care of your belongings and simply cry over the spilt milk. Do you think we have nothing to do but watch your assets?"
He finished his tea and jotted down all I told him. He then beckoned me to go into a room and wait. There were some eight boys of my age in the room, sitting sleepily, leaning to the wall. They were in different moods. One was already asleep. I later found that they were gablers, brought from Jhochhen the previous days. The inspector-in-charge came and started his stereotype lecture on the responsibility of youth. I admired, how happy we all would be, where all the people (at least all policemen) be wise and conscious.
After a few minutes, the policeman outside entered and told him why I was there. Gee, I missed the chance. He turned to me without regret, and calmly said, "You have to wait a bit. I'll call the fingerprint specialist."
He ordered someone through the phone to send a specialist there. "He will go with you and trace all the prints. That will make our investigation easier," he told me.
I was content with his reply. He read all newspapers spread on the table, smoking cigarettes after cigarettes. I was waiting, waiting and waiting silently. Time was running -- my stomach rumbled. My throat carved for a cup of tea but I saw no sign of getting even a glass of water. With my open eyes, I dreamt as far as my mind could travel (the mind does not do too far on an empty stomach). I saw the cops working hard and catching the burglar and we had got back everything that had been stolen - what a happy ending!
It was 12.00 noon and the concerned person was yet to appear. My patient gave way finally - I forgot every thing but my duty to save me from starvation. I got up and dared to say, " It would be better if I could go."
"You must be joking. Where do you want to go? The man is coming and you have to wait. Sit down," the policeman said. he wrote somebody's name on a pice of paper and handed it over to me.
"Take this. Go to Hanumandhoka and ask for this man. He knows everything. Just show him the place"
I went to Hanumandhoka Police Office and asked a policemen if anybody knew him. Among the crowd, it was not very difficult to meet him. No sooner did he see me, than he boomed, " Why are you so late? I've been waiting here for more than an hour. Understand?"
I preferred to shut my mouth. I simply led him to the shop. He sincerely worked with different types of brushes, black powder etc. Hi finished his job and said, "Look boy. I've finished my job. YOu are not the only person who has suffered this. I hope you are lucky and you get your things back."
Nothing came of it. Months passed. I wished I had gone to the Prahari Anuroth [a TV show in which policemen dramatize and grorify their success stories] actors, they do things in a wink.
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