The telegram lay on the centre table.The stains on the half rugged paper indicated that it had come from far.The contents read that he had to report to duty at the earliest. By the time he had lunch it was already half past noon. He lit a cigarette and the smoke gave a tinted flavor to the whole environment.It also meant that he cannot be present when his wife would deliver the baby.
When his wife became pregnant for the first time he had joined the police force.Set on foot he had reached the village which was 250 mms from Madhopur.The mob had become violent.They were pelting stones and country made bombs.He had seen his colleague's head being smashed.The force had resorted to rubber bullets and water spray to tackle the situation but to no avail.On the other side his wife in labor was in immense pain.The next day he came to know that the baby had died in the womb.He was not there when she needed him the most.
This time around he had taken all precautions.He had applied for leave so that he could stay by his wife at the time of delivery.He had packed his house with soft toys and the picture of a smiling baby and he vividly remembered the kids he had planted on the wife's forehead asking for blessings from the Almighty that everything goes well.
Madhouse bus station sign board read:The bus services have been temporarily suspended due to heavy rains.He had ridden a bullocks cart to reach the village.But agony was the other name of police duty.If you do good you are taken to be lenient,if you are hard you are disliked and disrespected.
The magic show at the Opera theatre was a packed house.A man was put in a big box and at the count of one..two three he disappeared.Again at the count of one..two..three he reappeared.In life alas you cannot do the same.
Mohun Bagan FC was playing the Darby match against East Bengal FC at the Salt lake stadium. In the dying moments they got a penalty and scored a goal which stirred rage among the East Bengal fans.He was there too to prevent the situation from being out of control.
In the cricket stadium the fans were making a lot of noise.Sachin Tendulkar was nearing a century.He was a cricket buff too but such was the duty that he had to stay all throughout the day facing the audience.
In a for of rage one day he had gone to a junk seller and asked:"How much will I get if I sell all my police medals?"
Not a dime was the answer.
He had asked himself in intoxication:" What is the purpose of my life?"
The political leader was going to a rally.He required police escort. Our man was to lead it.Slogans of Go back..go back was loudly heard.Somehow he and his team brought the leader safely to the police station.He was threatened for fire consequences by the leader himself for whom he made the Herculean effort.
The widow and her one year old son was taking the medal on behalf of her dead husband on Independence day.It was raining this time too and the nature was all irrestible.
The photo of the man was still in the centre table where the telegram laid days before.It still has had the smell of the flavoured cigarette that he used to smoke.His diary still had the poems he used to write but the man was no more.
His wife had taken the vow to make her son join police force when he grew up.
The widow pension cheque of 5250 INR was just a solitary consolation.Such was the dignity of police force."Honour,Valour,purpose and extreme sacrifice!"