When the city dwellers worked extra hours and managed to buy small cars and pay long taxes, she yearned for nothing except a hand to hold and a shoulder to lean on. The man who took the oath of accompanying her for the next seven lives was shot dead in an assassination. Being the wife of a policeman is a matter of courage and having a strong attitude towards facing tragic situations.
"Which among these stars is dad?" her six-year-old daughter would ask every night.
"He is the star which shields the Milky Way," she would reply; and it was enough to convince the curious mind.
There’s hardly any day more perfect for shopping than Saturday. She did shopping enough to find it difficult to walk as she wore pointed heels too. Having planned to buy eyeliners, she ended up buying Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for her daughter. From a stubborn girl who was always pampered by everyone, she is now a responsible woman fighting for her omen: their daughter. It was time to go back home and surprise her. She reached her scooter and searched her bag for the key. It was messy like her hair when she would tell the stories of her man's bravery to her neighbours. Having found everything which she didn't need at that time, someone patted her back.
"What’re you carrying in these bags?" a voice came. She turned back and saw a policeman. She recalled the day when he had fined her for not wearing a helmet. No one is above the law, he had said. The policeman seemed to be 35 years old. With stains of tobacco on his curved moustache, he smelled of tea and Biri. She couldn’t figure out what he said and gave him a blank expression
He spat the tobacco and repeated: "Ma’am, what’s in these bags?"
"Clothes," she politely answered as her man had told her to cooperate with policemen.
"I'm not lying."
"Don’t try to outwit me. Open them or I'll call the lady cop."
With ample hesitation, she handed him the bag which he religiously checked. After a while, he took out a piece of cloth.
"What’s this?" he asked.
"Undergarment," she slowly said.
"Don't you have any shame — showing offensive things to a man? Women like you are the cause of rape. If you show red colour to a bull, he'll surely lose his mind."
"That means men shall be raped for not buttoning their collar buttons and folding their sleeves for if you won't close your windows, astray birds will rush into your house and break glasses and frames."
He was furious after hearing her intriguing reply. He thought something for a while and said in haste: "Show me your driving license."
Apart from being strong, she has her own weaknesses. Even though, they weren't about how she saw the world, but, it was about how the world saw her — a widow — compulsorily weak. Fear started reflecting in her eyes as she realised the absence of the document which could save her from the earth-shaking questions of the policeman.
She mustered all the courage left in her and replied: "It's been sent for modification."
"That means, you're supposed to pay fine — intelligent lady," he sarcastically said.
"Compensation is allowed if any contract is under the process of modification," she explained.
"Don't teach me rules, ma’am. You're wasting my time as well as yours."
Instead of arguing further, she took out the money. Her husband’s photograph also came out. She was amazed to see the bright smile and the fearless eyes in which there was only light
Meanwhile, the policeman noticed it and gave a surprised look. She got afraid, what she would answer if he would ask something about the man in the photograph. I'd break his jaw if he says anything wrong about him, she decided. Waiting for him to react, she tightened her grip.
“Why are you carrying this photograph?” he asked. In her surprise, his tone had less arrogance now.
“Is there any article in the constitution which says: you can't carry photographs?”
"He was my Sahib — the man I'll be grateful to always," the policeman said emotionally. He was now a different man. From an absurd advocate of corruption, he turned into someone else — someone beyond moral anomalies.
"You should be thankful to him. But I am not thankful to you or anyone. I am proud of him that he fought singlehandedly but. .I am not proud of his fellow men who could not safeguard him. God loves him. Heaven craved for him," she said. Tears started rolling down from her eyes. She had never felt this much weak before.
“I wish I could’ve saved him. Till the time he was there to guide me, I never bribed. He would always say: no matter how much money you earn, it’s never enough. He taught me to respect women as he respected his wife. Every time I do things which he would never do, my heart bleeds,”
“Why don’t you stop doing it? After Sahib, I’ll be the happiest,” she wiped her tears and for the first time, they made an eye contact.
“When the stomachs you’ve to feed are more than the digits in your salary, you feel helpless. In the world, where there’s no survival of the fittest but only the survival of the richest, honesty and loyalty die while fighting with hunger - and the richest, they can be anyone except a man with a uniform. I’m not justifying my wrongdoings. I know I’m wrong. But the smile on my children’s faces washes away my sins,” he paused for a while and continued: “When my son says, he wants to be like me, I say, be like Sahib. He’s the reason why I’m hopeful and I feel terribly guilty to do these things.”
“Sahib would still want you to be an honest policeman," she could still manage to say.
"Why're you so fond of him?”
“He was once my hope and now his words are. And I'm proud that his words give hope to so many who are in an ardent need,” she sighed. Her cell phone rang.
Sinking in the feeling of guilt, the policeman took out the cellphone from her bag and smiled looking at the screen. "Aliya," I've named my daughter too.
"Where are you, Mumma? Have you found father?" the voice came from the other side.
"I have just made someone meet him. Very soon, I'll make you meet him too," she said and disconnected the call. ”