I drank your Milkshake, Officer!

It was a long time ago when Kolkata was called Calcutta and Ballygunge was, well.. the posh neighbourhood as it still is. Being a posh neighbourhood, it used to be ridden with lazy police sergeants in the deserted afternoons, strolling occaisonally in the neighbourhood for the sake of security. This is a story of one such ambitious and veteran police sergeant and his crossing ways with my distantly related grandpa.

There Will Be Blood.

...

On his way to the office, like everyday, he takes his son to the Ballygunge High School. All his son's classes being in the day shift, it is almost noon by the time his classes start and he has his daily cigarette at the makeshift paan shop at the corner of the street. As an old habit, he would then laze around on the promenade till he finishes his smoke.

Few walks down the street, there is an alley where seemingly the entire dirt of the city is dumped and people pee on the very sign that says "Do Not Urinate On The Wall". Grandpa has to cross this alley everytime, as he meanders down the street to the main road and wait for the bus to go home. But as it is with bad luck, his wanton bladdar gives out a promiscuous cry every single time he crosses that alley.





So one fine day when he just couldn't resist the incontestable call of nature, he lined himself up in the queue for the wall. It was the wall of facility for many, but a wall of shame for grandpa. While he stood there, waiting for his turn, he gradually let go of all his inhibitions. 'Everyone does it in this country. Why can't I be normal for a minute and enjoy being an Indian! By peeing on the wall at the pavement? Well, screw you conscience, I am going to do it. Here, watch me!' says he to his voice within as he unzips his pants.

A sense of repose fills up his person as he slowly raises his head high and feels the sunlight on the back of his face. Sometimes, showing the door to morality can turn out to be the right thing to do. However, his sense of tranquility is cut short. He suddenly becomes aware that he might be the only person peeing at the wall, as the entire alley is magically deserted. And yet, there was surely a controlling presence along with him there.

He was unsure whether he should finish his deed and then turn around, or try looking over his back and be facing his potential assaillant face-to-face.

'There's no hurry..' came the reply, as if he read his mind!

The voice was confident, rough, baritone and the words were evenly spaced. There was also a recurring sound of clashing metals coming from behind, which scared him a little. He pulled up the zipper in his pants and turned around.

It was a police sergeant, in his faded khaki uniform that only indicated his long-term experience in the force (or that his wife was a terrific washer-woman!). My grandpa was relieved to discover that the source of clashing metals was only a few coins in his hand that he was playing with casually.

'What is written on the wall, mister?' asked the policeman, calmly.
'I am so sorry and ashamed! It will never happen again, I promise!' blurted out my grandpa with complete submission.
'Well, you do look like a gentleman. But you did break a civil law. There must be punishment or penalty of some sorts!'
'I am an honest man, I have nothing to hide. I understand I have broken the law and a more personal moral code of conduct, so please tell me what to do..' pleaded my grandpa, almost on his knees. Almost.
'Pay a fine of 2 Rupees!' demanded the policeman.

Now it was a long time ago. It was the time when 2 rupees were a lot! Still, with his head hanging low, my grandpa fishes out the 2 rupees and watches the policeman pocket it in. 'Umm.. shouldn't I get a receipt?' asked he, meekly.

'Bugger off, old man' scowled the policeman '..don't let me cane you now!'
And with that, my grandpa's hard earned money went down the toilet.

...

For the next few days, my grandpa made a few observations after dropping his son off at school. They were tenacious and methodically done. Little did anyone know of the audacious plan, his mind was hatching at that very moment. He noticed that the crowd at the wall was periodic and so was the policeman's appearance. Everytime a newcomer decides to approach on the wall for his urinary needs, the alley would go empty and the policeman arrives to extort money. This would go on every day. This was a method, a side income for the man of law. The only way he could buy his bottle of cheap liquor at the end of the day, without blowing a hole in his pockets.

My grandpa decided to target this line of his income and strangle it to an untimely death.

The next day, he went down the road and positioned himself at the entrance of the alley. As soon as he saw someone approach the wall, he'd pass a warning to them 'Oi! There's a policeman waiting to extort money from you if you pee here.. Try that wall over there!' he'd recommend.

Soon the policeman's shady means of income started to dwindle. He identified my grandpa as his nemesis, he issued a light warning to him about wandering in the area. He even said he could lock him up for suspected communist activities! But he knew he had not much of a leverage on him, so he just hoped that my grandpa would walk away.

But he didn't. He was resolute in his plan and never gave up. Albeit the hot midday sun was taking the toll on him, but he got an umbrella (to block the sun) and a muffler (to block the stench) and it was soon alright. He stood there for almost a month.

Then one day, the policeman came upto him. His face openly showed desperation and the obvious fact that he was sober for the last few weeks. He came up to my grandpa and shouted, 'WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME, HUH! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?!'

To which my grandpa coolly replied, 'I just want my 2 rupees back.' The police sergeant, in all his faded appearance, slumped where he stood. He felt like Paul Dano listening to Daniel Day Lewis drinking up his milkshake in the movie that wasn't even conceived then. Bruised and lost, he puts his hand in his pockets and brings out a couple of dirty coins.

'Take it, take it all!' he cries out and thrusts the money into my grandpa's hands. Then he storms away in just the dramatic way he had entered into the scene. My grandpa stared into the distance, pocketed his 2 rupees and walked on to the main road to catch the bus on his way back home.

He was finished.

2 comments:

  1. Hmm. Interesting. I quite like this grandpa of yours. Had this been in current times, grandpa would have surely set up a facebook campaign against the policeman. :D

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  2. Haha! True. Heard about the ''Gay For A Day'' campaign? Maybe I can popularize this story and get a ''Be Grandpa For A Day'' trend out of it! :P Either way, it'll boost the traffic.

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