Riding around in Delhi on a rickety scooter is one of my few hobbies. It gives me a feel of earthiness, a feeling that I am a nobody amidst the costly cars that fly by me. It makes me feel humble, arrogant as I am. It helps me to check my dreams. It roots me in reality, the harsh reality that I like to confront honestly.
A traffic policeman stopped me today. I took off my helmet with a smile that comes rather artificially to me these days.
“I’ve broken the law, you can punish me,” I said. I think the smile had not vanished from my cheeks.
I had jumped a red light. I had not intended it. My scooter got stuck on the gravel and the lights turned red before I could cross the range. This was the first time that I was ever caught in my 12 years of hobbying in Delhi by the omnipresent traffic police of Delhi.
“License?” asked the policeman.
I handed him my licence.
“... school ...,” he read it aloud for the benefit of his senior officer who was standing nearby. “What do you do in ... school?”
“Teacher,” I said as I pulled out a hundred rupee note from my wallet which was the penalty for jumping the traffic signal.
“Teacher?” he asked as if he had expected the answer “peon” or “sweeper” or ...
“Will you please accept the fine here instead of sending me to the court?” I asked. “I have no time to go to the court to pay the fine.” I requested.
“Half here and half in the court,” said the officer who had not spoken so far. “Isn’t today the teacher’s day?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said. I was a little surprised that the Delhi police was aware of something called teacher’s day.
“How can I challan a teacher on the teacher’s day?” He asked.
I didn’t know what to answer. The hundred rupee note was still in my hand and the policeman wasn’t even looking at it.
“Go!” said the officer.
“An interesting teacher’s day gift,” I thought as I kicked on the engine of my old pal.
PS. This is not fiction at all. Everything is as it happened really. I’m back to reality. No more short stories. They've been censored. Except historical fiction.