The clock struck 7 when I woke up. I opened the main door, walked into the lawn with a yawn. I stood there and stretched trying for a peek at the rising sun. As I did that I noticed some object, thin like a cane, white in color with the sun in the background hurling towards me. Anything that’s hurling towards me was danger, of course. I wondered if it was a terrorist attack or if it was my ex- girl friend’s handy work. I pushed the panic button and went on a mission- Run-for-your-life. I turned around to run, but before I could gather any further thoughts or paces, it hit me on the back of my head and rebounded on to the ground. I dint fall and die at once. So, I looked around cautiously and then contemplated the object. I almost kicked myself when I observed that it was the newspaper, rolled and launched by my paper guy. I grabbed the newspaper and walked to the raised compound wall to find the paper guy. He stood with his bicycle wearing a straight face maybe wanting to kill me in real. I made an inverted hook with my eye-brow and gave him a hard long stare like a 1972 villain. It would have looked more poignant if someone flashed a red-light on my face. But anyway, he stood silent and made continuous movements with his head, looking at me for a second and looking at the ground for another second. I got a feeling he was run by a malfunctioned battery or something. Before I could say anything, he said sorry and escaped.
I went back in to the lawn, jumped onto the recliner. I unfolded the newspaper to see who died, who did a fraud, who kissed Rakhi Sawanth and to check the humour column (I mean, our politicians’ statements). The headline “ Seat belts compulsory for four-wheelers- Traffic Police” caught my eye. I live in a city where a day without a traffic jam is like a burger without the bun. I mean, the maximum speed I could achieve was about 30 kms/hr. All that a seat belt could do is to hold you back for a second thought in case you felt like running away getting mad of traffic. For me, seat belts in a city made no sense. On the other hand, there’s no such rule on a highway, where it at least made some sense. As the joke goes- “ If you can’t tighten your brakes, you make your horn louder” our government follows suit. They don’t repair roads but they impose a helmet rule (for instance). And this one- “ You are invited for lunch tomorrow. By the way it’s your funeral tonight.” I’m talking about the rosy post-dated cheque the government offers to the dead person’s family.
Anyway, I walked back inside, showered, readied myself to leave for a friend’s marriage function and left. I drove my car along at 20 kms/hr without a seat belt and with no prizes for guessing at all, a traffic police inspector spotted & stopped me. “Oh these idiotic pot bellies..” I said to myself and pulled up the car by the pavement. “Bring your Driving license and Insurance papers here,” he demanded. I searched for my license card and found it. I examined the web-cam-captured-photo on my License card and got irritated all over again. I looked like one of those Arab terrorists after being captured & tortured. When I found the insurance papers, I was amazed to realize that my car was insured while I was not. But anyway I was still a student. So, with both the documents I walked up to that damn inspector. He examined them and said to me as if he was so hurt by my bad behavior- “ You look to be educated and decent. Why do you break the rules?” Man, if he deduced that I look decent by looking at that photo, he should immediately be shown to a neurologist. Anyway, he almost cried at me and asked-“ Why sir? Why? No seat belt?” I tried to remember the last instance when my own parents got so worried about me. I couldn’t even remember.
He then finally, like as if he lost speech, told me- “500 rupees sir.”
“What the f……” I controlled myself before I could say that word and continued-“ What? How much? Why?”
He said bluntly- “That’s the fine. No seat belt, illegal number plate and the tinted glass is too dark.”
Crap. These idiots come up with something or the other. I wanted to say to him –“ I’m not educated nor decent. Will you give me a concession?” But I dint. It’s better not to mess with these ‘drum bellies’. I said- “ I have just 100 rupees with me” though I had much more.
“No Sir. The fine is 500 rupees”, he said.
It looked like a silly game when I repeated my sentence for another 5 to 6 times, he too repeated his sentence that many times. But then, after few more repetitions in different tones, the deal was done. 100 rupees. For a fact, I’m very talented. But the point is, this was a bribe, not a fine. The actual fine would have also just come up to around 200 bucks, not 500, but one just couldn’t argue with these traffic inspectors. More you argue, more the fine would grow.
Meanwhile, as I searched for the 100 bucks, a beggar came by and begged for money. I digged out Rs110 and passed it to the beggar and told him to keep 10 bucks and pass the rest to the police guy. He did so promptly.
Before the policeman could realize my heartfelt gesture, I escaped from there just like my paper guy.