Cops, chapter 20 of Memory, a Novella
The sight of policemen gave Boy the heebie-jeebies. Whether it was some deep rooted phobia of the tools of colonial oppression based on subconscious racial memory, or merely a guilty conscience we cannot say. For laws are myriad and intent for compliance not so robust, leading to occasionally catching the eye of her keepers.
It was during the impecunious student days that Boy travelled the city and even the country using public transport, whenever he couldn’t persuade kindly strangers to offer lifts, but neglected the formality of coughing up the fare. Sometimes the keepers looked askance at these liberties, and ingenuous ruses would keep Boy from their clutches.
The classic was by his friend Boss, who later went on to become a major scourge for lawbreakers himself.
The bus was stopped for spot check just outside the hostel, and Boss was the only one with a pass. So he decided impromptu to jump off and run, with the checkers in hot pursuit. The rest of Boy’s gang slipped quietly into the hostel while the law caught up with Boss.
“Show us your tickets”
“Don’t have any”
“Come to the police station!”
“We can make you!”
“No you can’t, I have a pass”
“Then why did you run?”
“Is running against the law?”
Today, as a consultant, Boss provides similar loopholes to his clients.
On another occasion, the law keepers wanted ID to prove that Boy and his friends had reached the legal age for the activity they proposed. Boss gravely informed them that simple living and Yoga keeps them looking young, for if they had been married off by their parents at an appropriate age, they would have children like these guardians of the law. Helpless with laughter, they let Boy and his cronies proceed.
Those days Boy was also very reluctant to pay the necessary fees to attend shows and exhibitions, and always knew an unguarded back entrance or convenient low wall or break in the fence. Neither did Boy wait for invitations to attend parties, receptions, and weddings hosted by complete strangers. This too led to occasional detection and disagreements, and a host of aliases were handy when providing names and addresses. But the loyal reader has already read of these escapades.
The other occasions for incurring the displeasure of the law had moral right on Boy’s side, or so he believed, as it was for creating disruptions for various dimly understood causes, in the name of student protests. The Police were unusually patient and polite with students, and arrested them merely to let them go a few hours later, dutifully noting down the names, and not expressing any surprise that they were all named after the Prime Minister of the country.
But once things went out of hand, and a group was taken to the lockup overnight, with some talk of fingerprinting the next day. A number of the inmates had interviews to attend in the near future, and many were aspiring civil servants whose carriers would crash-land if weighed down by police records. As they were held in a temporary camp in a school building it was a simple matter to escape through the windows, and many did.
Trouble brewed next day, when post negotiations everyone was being let off, but the head count did not tally. If the same number of students weren’t released, cops could be charged with Habeas Corpus. An ingenious solution was found. Certain students, including Boy and Ron, broke INTO the lockup, with full police cooperation, to make up the numbers originally picked up, and were immediately released to fanfare from the student leaders.
Although student agitations were a friendly match with the cops, post exam high jinks were sometimes frowned upon. On one such spirited occasion, on a whim and a dare, a few of them, including Boy and Ron, decided to climb a statue of a national hero adorning the town square. This attracted a crowd, and soon a uniformed friend with a large stick.
Boy naturally did not heed his injunctions to descend at once, but instead climbed higher to escape the flailing stick. The intrepid law keeper then decided to climb after them forcing Boy to take drastic measures before backup arrived. They accordingly leapt to the ground in different directions and fled for their lives, guessing that the cop can chase only one of them.
Cheered on by the watching crowd they escaped, helped along by the onlookers, always siding with the wrong side of the law.
Boy has since grown up into a law abiding citizen, and some of his friends have become law makers and keepers themselves, and the worst crimes they commit are minor traffic violations.
But even nowadays although a rarity, confrontations do happen.
Getting late for work, Boy once tried speeding through as the lights were changing, and was promptly stopped by a lurking guardian of the law. He tried to plead that they were on the same side, both being government servants on official duty, and after scrutinising his credentials the policeman claimed that Boy was only partly government. Boy pointed out that he had only partly jumped the light.
Impressed by this astute argument, he waved Boy on with a broad grin on his face.
Written for Nanowrimo extended
Copyright (c) Soumya Mukherjee