Written – March 2006
(this is an attempted tribute to Upamanyu Chatterjee)
Sub- Inspector Raghuveer Gupta wiped his hands in disgust on the seat of his uniform. He screwed his nose up at the stench, and looked at his companion for approval.
“Now why are you bad-naming someone who has dead, Guptajee ? It is not good.”
“Where the phuck are the traffic police wale? They should be incharge of all this na?”
Brijeshwarnath Mishra was always impressed by how fluidly Guptajee could express his feelings in english. He himself always found it rather hard to pick it up. Even with the thrice-a-week sessions organized at the chowki, this compulsory English speaking got to him. He had studied in an English medium school till Class Xth of course, but who remembers these things? However, with the new District Magistrate’s blasted drive and weekly inspection to ensure that the police force is service oriented, presentable, and conversant with English apart from one other language, there was no option. Even the convicts made fun of the big notice pinned to the chowki walls about the English language sessions scheduled for everyone.
Brijeshwarnath Mishra didn’t understand much of what was written, but he glowered at it everytime he passed it.
Language lessons didn’t really bother Guptajee. He even kind of liked the Madamji who came to teach on Tuesdays. He always made it a point to sit on the front row on those days, even polishing his shoes one time. What got to him however, was the washing bills. The new DM was even inspecting uniforms, for god’s sake! Every week! Something related to the new government’s “Clean Governance” drive.
He had gone to the extent of appointing a laundry wallah for each chowki, whom he talked to whenever he wanted! Guptajee had tried roughing up the boy on one of the evenings in hope of some respite from the frustration but he in turn threatened to report things to the DM.
“Arrey, I am angry Mishrajee. All this blood sickens me.”
“Chaliye, rehne dijiye, Guptajee, last year when you shot down that robber who was climbing down the pipe, then to you were posing all smiling for the photographs.”
“Arrey, that was different. Do not confuse the issues. Aap bhi na! It is because of chutiyas like this that we policemen do not have a life.”
“Ab bas bhi kijiye Guptajee. It is not nice to talk bad of dead.”
“Arrey what bad yaar? Can’t police people play holi? You tell me, don’t we have the right to play with wife and children on holi?”
“Who wife, Guptajee?”
When Brijeshwarnath wanted, he could use a tone of sarcasm mixed with incredulity perfectly. “You to kicked her out so many years back.”
Guptajee smacked his head in irritation.
“That is not the point bhai. That is only the problem with you illiterates. Cannot think of no world problem issues except only roti, kapda, makaan. What will happen to the world with this thinking, you tell me?”
“Let us get this done with now. Commissioner’s car would be coming now and then.”
Guptajee sighed and once again looked at the mess. The bike, when skidding had left gash marks on the surface of the road. The crumpled metal mass now lay bashed against the flyover boundary.
“He must have died right at the moment of the impact. Would you look at the size of these scratches on the road. The municipality wallahs now will close the road till monsoons. After which anyway it will close.”
“Kya Guptajee, flyover pe paani kaise chadhega. Who took him to the hospital, by the way?”
“And what about downstairs?”, Brijeshwarnath Mishra gestured towards the edge.
There was a gaping hole in the boundary where the car had toppled over.
Guptajee deliberately avoided looking at the dried blood pool, looked in distaste again all around, as if hoping to arouse sympathy from the elements themselves, and just then swerved to the left to allow another bike to whiz past.
“Saare bhainchod daaru pee ke chalate hain!”
Brijeshwarnath Mishra, meanwhile walked to the edge of the flyover, towards the broken boundary. Traffic was sparse, despite this being the middle of the afternoon, on account of Holi and the silence and the emptiness were distinctly eerie.
Guptajee picked up his official stick and nervously followed, judiciously avoiding the sticky colourful spots on the road. He had plans with the rest of the colony in the evening, and this already seemed like it was going to take some time. Heavy afternoons always put him off. He grimaced, and holding the stick tighter, crossed the road.
They both peered over the edge. The car, a big Mahindra Scorpio still lay on it’s roof. Incredibly, even now, almost two hours later, the wheels were still gently spinning. Maybe it was the wind. To Guptajee, it looked like a giant cockroach on it’s back, helpless and quivering. He had half a mind to take his stick and tickle it in the stomach. He chuckled with the thought. Just then the havildar standing on duty besides the car below looked up. Guptajee immediately regained his official sneer and looked down on him. The havildar, as if physically struck across the face, just as immediately looked down and got busy.
“Mishraji, what is this place? Do flyovers have a name?”
“Of course they do, bhai. How much time has it been in Dilli for you, Guptajee?”
Brijeshwarnath Mishra smirked most of the times in the perfect knowledge that it irritated his partner.
“Arrey, I can never understand this place. Saali Aurangzeb road goes and ends up into Prithviraj road here side-by-side, as if they were embracing! Arrey nahi, seriously. You go and see! If Prithviraj Chauhan was alive today, he would die of embarrassment.”
“What is your enemy with Aurangzeb now? Arrey, he built Dilli bhai! Anyway, this is Safdurjung flyover. Look there. That is the famous Safdarjung hospital.”
“What do you mean? They name a flyover after the nearest hospital to it?”
“Of course. It is common sense logic that way na. All you need to know is which flyover you are on, and you can immediately decide which hospital to take the accidents to. Shouldn’t we go downstairs and look, Guptajee?”
The two took the long, circuitous route to below the flyover instead of the much direct one that the car had apparently taken- Guptajee even making an inspired athletic jump over the railing at the end despite his considerable bulk which had Mishraji looking back nervously to Safdarjung, perhaps to gauge just how far it really is.
By the time they reached the squashed car, the havildar was in animated conversation with a cart puller. Mishraji went across to assess the damage to the car, while Guptajee went across to the havildar, appropriately scowling.
“What’s it Bishnu? Who is this re?”
“Namaste Saab. Saar, this is the cart fellow who took the Mr. and Mrs to Safdarjung. He says no-body has paid him.”
Bishnu had a wide grin which Guptajee knew meant that he had an interesting unofficial tid-bit to share. But Guptajee‘s seniority meant that he had to come to the point circuitously.
“Chal, send him away. Tell him to go collect his wage from DM sa’ab. Bhag!”
Guptajee glowered at the cart puller, and the few people who were walking by, looking on at the spectacle on the road.
“When did you come here Bishnu? You saw this?”
“No Saab. But I was here in half an hour only. I was drinking chai outside Safdarjung only saab, when I heard all this dishoom bishoom. By the time, I finished my chai, they were already pushing the everyone inside.”
Bishnu was still grinning like an excited school-boy. Guptajee looked over at Mishraji who was trying to look inside the car now, somehow.
“What happened re? What did you see?”
“Saar , the cart wallah says, when he pulled both of them outside, the Mr. was naked from the shirt down. All naked saar. And the Mrs. had all white white over her face.”
Bishnu’s voice went into a conspirational whisper now. ” Saar, he says they think she was sucking him.”
He was red faced with excitement. And he knew Guptajee always liked the occasional tid-bit like this.
“And saar, she was wearing a sari! Sari wali Mrs.saar. I couldn’t even believe it thinking saar.”
Mishraji walked over to them and gravely asked, unmindful of the serious conversation underway.
“How many people here, Bishnu?”
“Just two saar. Namaste Saab.”
Mishraji nodded his head and asked, “What condition now?”
“Saar , the Mr. broke his neck, and one arm is fracture. The Mrs. broke her jaw and her neck also.’
“Guptajee, we should write this things down. We will have to file report of this.”
“Bishnu will get it done. Kyon re?” Bishnu just giggled.
All this serious talk was getting to Guptajee, who at the moment only wanted to take Bishnu in a corner and hear all the juicy details.
Just then Bishnu ponted out the official ambassador arriving from the distance. Mishraji immediately spit the pan masala on the other side, while Guptajee went on to his eternal struggle of the uniform with his paunch.
The screeching siren announced the arrival of the commissioner’s car. Bishnu immediately sprinted across to open the car door, and stepped back in fright.
The commissioner, or what looked like the face of the commissioner was painted in the darkest of greens, pinks, and silver. Even through the war-paint, his official scowl was well visible. He gestured Mishraji into a corner and for ten minutes kept scowling and nodding as Mishraji detailed all, gesturing here there, up down. Guptajee was getting delirious with the view.
Then, slowly shaking his head, scowl intact, the commissioner ambled slowly over to Guptajee
“Guptajee, you are going to be doing night duty tonight at Safdarjung Hospital. I don’t want any tv people in there, okay? And make sure you are there. I’ll send someone anytime in the night to check.”
“Sir, but Holi sir.”
“Yes, so what? Are the TV channels not working on Holi?”. Then looking over at Mishra, “You will do the 9 to 1 stretch outside AIIMS. They are telling me this could get sensitive.”
Mishraji nodded sagely, and helped the commissioner get back into his car. Just as soon as it had come, the ambassador was gone.
“All of them. Sab phuck all of them are bhainchods. All of them.”
“Chalo let it be Guptajee. Most of the day is gone anyway. Bishnu, go re. Go find out which room the patients are in. Get some good chair-wair for Guptajee. And tell the chai-wallah to be getting there every hour.”
Bishnu departed, still grinning.
“Mishraji, let us go at least have a few beers. The whole day has been mother already.”
“But today is dry day in the capital. Where will you get beer?”
“Mishraji, aap bhi na! Even in the police job, you didn’t learn anything. Let me get it organized.”
Later properly organized, sprawled between the few beer bottles on the charpoi, Guptajee was summing it all up for Brijeshwarnath.
“Mishraji, and while the bugger was breaking his neck, he was cumming all over her face! Imagine!”
(A biker died on Safdarjung flyover on the afternoon of Holi, the 15th of March, 2006. May his soul rest in peace. The rest of the piece is fiction.)