Our much-maligned police force has a lesser-known bright side, too, which must be visited. During my tenure in the merchant navy, when home on leave, I would buy a scooter and ride it before disposing it of to return to my job which entailed long stretches of time at sea.
Since my stay on leave was brief, I could not call myself a confident rider. Years ago, I voluntarily resigned and learned to drive a car, but would use my scooter if I had to commute to crowded places. In one instance, a car hit and dragged me with my scooter for a few yards. I found myself lying on the road beside my scooter and turban. Two policemen came running and lifted me. They swung into action, called for an autorickshaw, while instructing the driver to take me to a hospital near my residence. While one sat with me, the other constable rode alongside us on my scooter which also bore the scars of this accident.
The policemen ensured I got the required medical attention and stayed with me till my wife and son arrived at the hospital.
While going back to their place of duty, they wanted my consent for action against the car driver, but I was unsure since I was a driver who lacked confidence as I had not ridden for long.
It wasn’t a matter of apprehending anyone, or whose fault it was then, all I wanted was to recover and put this behind me. In a couple of days, I was discharged from the hospital.
The head constable would visit to enquire about my well-being in his off-duty hours. This gesture prompted me to write a letter of appreciation to the SSP, Amritsar.
In 2020, Covid changed our lives and the face mask became the most important and essential part of our attire. I was buying fruits from a street vendor when I was surprised to see an ASI in uniform, but without a mask, emerging from a side street, saluting me.
It was the very same head constable from years ago who had handled my accident case. But instead of greeting him, my first reaction was to reprimand him for not wearing a mask. I also jokingly added that if I could commend him for his good deed, I can also report him about giving the rules the go-by.
He immediately took out a mask from his pocket and donned it. We shared a hearty laugh that was also tinged with the realisation about the grimness of the situation, both now and then, and how a thin line separates us from tragedy and joy.
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