My cap was pulled low. Anyone looking at my face could barely see my eyes, and for the unfamiliar ones I was completely unidentifiable. I love being like that when I have not had a good day. Yes, the cold, dry day had passed and I was wearing a p-cap at night time.
I stepped off the bus carrying a black bag over my shoulder as the death cold breeze hit my face. I cringed, for the air I was breathing hammered my chest breathless.
I was still thankful for I had been traveling in a heated college bus, had some warm clothing on, and was heading home to something warm to eat. With the clothes I had on, I looked like something right off the flight from abroad or something… But still, it was not the things around me that make me angry. It was the people. It ‘is’ always the people, isn’t it? You can never ask them for compromise, a little accommodation, or even a heartfelt greeting. We are all cold and frozen from the inside; just like this weather!
We, me and a few others, landed on a dirt track. After making our way to the nearest traffic signal (read landmark) I called up home for them to come pick me up. I decided to bear away the weather for a little while, which was honestly the last thing I would do before going berserk on someone near-by.
The traffic signal was just off the highway, hence there was a police barrier (or chowki) right next to where I was standing. I had no other choice, but to avail the dim light of the kiosk to make myself prominent in that cold, dark and desolate road side. Desolate except a few policemen. Policemen! And as soon as I saw one, he looked back and approached me.
“Good God! The perfect night, the perfect day!” I said to myself. For all the things I had heard of the late about the on going student-police relationships, this had to be the best time. The police have been blamed for manhandling students, lawyers, civilians, etc. They threw a few of ‘us’ into jails for no apparent reason. They are characterized as a fully autonomous ‘goon squad’, stories and news about which are more popular than the local folklores. The horror of standing there shivering in the middle of nowhere; the worst of fears ran through my head.
But the situation called not for me to lose it all together. And why should I? After all, as this tall person with a beard and an AK-47 on his shoulder approached me, he greeted me, “Asalam Alikum!” I replied, we shook hands and he inquired where was I heading to and where was I coming from. In situations like these, I have seen and heard from my friends to step away from the officer, not to answer a word, and to avoid conversation all together. Some also suggest to create a ‘racket’ if there is too much interrogation to your liking.
I am not the champion wrestling type, I avoid agitating situations for my own good. Most of the times I end up getting the bad part, so I usually do not try. Anyways, he smiled at me and told me not to be afraid as all his interrogation was merely because of the black bag I was carrying. I felt relieved and asked to move into a brighter spot. He allowed me to do as I may and offered me to place the bag on the motorcycle seat that stood near-by. I said no, as the dust from my bag would ruin his seat.
Soon, a motorbike came to a halt in front of us and passed him a black bag. He was a few steps away and the noise from the traffic didn’t allow me to listen in to what they exchanged. It was just a bag of fruits, of which he offered me two bananas. Did I mention I was starving? I couldn’t refrain from taking the second, you never can when someone offers you something to eat just like that. I felt happy, yet quite surprised.
As he got on with his duty on the road side, the reality of the arctic weather hit me once again. I realized how difficult it must have been for these guys to do this lousy duty day in day out, with such a crap salary, and with such rejectionism from the civil circles in such severe of weathers. The rejection from being understood as human beings trying their best to serve their neighborhoods, their streets, their cities, their country! And not to mention the variety of characters they get to face on a daily basis who have ego’s talking with the stars. It must really be a shit life!
Regardless of what people and the newspapers tell me, it takes two hands to clap! And I believe from this night onwards, if we the civil society people acted civilized, there is no reason for this arm of the law to extend out toward us. We are not the only ones eligible of being called ‘humans’! These people need to be treated humanely too. A little bit of respect and patience is was they ask off us.
After all, we are not the ones being blown to bits and pieces by suicide bombers, now are we? It’s guys like these who will one day sacrifice themselves to protect our royal asses from the menace of terrorism and crime.
And I might even sleep well tonight, knowing I had met a guy like him who was on the streets making them safer, and happier.
Thank you, Mr. Unnamed police officer!