It was a regular Saturday and we were heading to our local market to pick up our usual vegetables and fruits. Me and my wife had a very tense day with all the online education mess. It was a tough day for teaching and we were looking forward to a relaxed weekend. We were aware of the Covid protocols and have had close brush with the Corona Virus. So we were always at our best.
On entering the market we saw cops everywhere trying to capture people like poachers do for catching shallows and sparrows. Grabbing necks, collars, and wrists the mighty men in uniforms were bent on decimating the virus itself by catching these culprits who were disguised as family’s sole bread winners. Of course there were other super spreaders in this bunch as well. Then there were the pious men, who dutifully called their superiors to enlighten the cops.
We passed all of them thinking of what a terrible ordeal on a weekend. We were too relaxed to think of ourselves being in that situation. Because we had taken every precaution, so much so that there were cases around us but we had taken appropriate measures to be safe. We were aware that we were alone in this state and we had very few people to look after us.
When we had picked up everything from the market, we sat in the car and took off to our home thinking about the sleep we had been wanting since a long time.
My wife, tired from the market ride, took out the water bottle, took a sip and asked me if I wanted to read today or watch a movie. As she gulped another sip, I saw the car in front of me take an abrupt turn. A cop stood brandishing his “laathi” signalling for us to stop. I complied and asked what seemed to be the problem. He replied, “your wife isn’t wearing a mask. Get down and get penalised.” I was fazed. My wife’s mask had slid down a bit from her nose as she drank some water and was trying to keep the water bottle back.
In total disbelief, I tried to reason with the cop that we are inside the car and not in a public place where we can be fined. But he wouldn’t budge. I again spoke to him from my window to not think of us as super spreaders. That got him worked up and he began to rough us up. My wife, who happens to be a rationalist and a Biotechnologist, got furious. She tried to give her piece of mind albeit in the usual rational way. This information coming from a woman’s mouth was too much for this patriarch to take and he again signalled us to park the car aside and face consequences. I was mental ! Face consequences ! What had we even done! I demanded to talk to his senior as he wasn’t able to comprehend what we were saying. He was adamant and he started to give a flimsy reason that we were careless! yeah his problem was that we were careless in the car! I looked around at the passing cars and saw that they were cherry picking the cars. I pointed out this angrily and this was too much for the ego of the cop. He called out to his gang and started cribbing that these people aren’t cooperating. I demanded again to see their chief as none of them were understanding a thing.
The first cop yelled, “You people are making a scene and are not following government’s orders.” Saying this, his mask slid below his nose. I screamed, “ Look! Look! You too are not wearing a mask! You should be fined too!” This aggravated him and he screamed back at me like a bullied child, “ What is your problem? Don’t you know you have been caught with your masks down? Your wife was not wearing a mask?”
“Are you blind? Can’t you see her mask is still on her face? It simply slid below as she was drinking water!”
“You are interrupting government’s orders!”
“You are disrespecting science and logic by being foolish.”
“You are teaching me science?? You are simply wasting my time. We are here since 20 minutes.”
“You have wasted my 20 precious minutes in defending something as frivolous as sliding of a mask.”
“YOU ARE GETTING OUT OF YOUR LIMITS! YOU ARE DISRESPECTING THE GOVERNMENT’S ORDERS!!!”
“YOU HAVE DISRESPECTED SCIENCE BY BEING FOOLISH. YOU HAVE DIMINISHED THE INTELLECT OF A HUMAN BEING BY BEING ILLOGICAL AND IRRATIONAL.”
(There was much more verbose, but I’m leaving the details).
All the while, I was being filmed by his companion. I looked into the camera and gave my piece of mind.
Their chief arrived, a scaled down and jacked up version of Chulbul Pandey, riding on a CBZ. What an irony! I gave up just then and there, because what can you expect from such cops who emulate Selmon Bhoy! But I tried to stand my ground on my shaky legs. We both were flustered, irritated, angry, and scared. Scared? Why you ask? because these are cops of a regressive state!
Somehow, we got speaking to the Chief. We tried to explain him the situation. He started refusing in English or atleast that’s what he was thinking. It was difficult to present logical facts to him. We explained that we were inside the car and the mask had slipped because of consuming water. He just kept repeating “Why my staff catch you? My staff is not enemy! Why you not wearing mask? Why my man lying?”
We had no energy left. I started questioning again as to how can I spread the virus sitting in the car despite being a very cautious person? He made a face and gave me a dirty look. My wife asked him if he knew about viral transmission. I pushed a bit more and he ordered for the car to be taken in custody and we to be detained. The only thing we were worried at that moment is what these cops would do to us at the station. We had already had a tough day and weren’t ready for another ordeal. We also had a Monday ahead of us, which would be our teaching day.
My wife explained to him that we teach at a university and are learned people. He retorted, “ Learned people and yet not cooperating?!? If you have this attitude what do we expect of the commoners!”
My wife sharply replied, “It is because we are learned that we are questioning and explaining. Had we been your commoners, we would be either paying fine or begging for your mercy like slaves. We are no slaves and we deserve, no we demand to know the reason for this stupid detention.”
I spoke to the cop and asked if he really believed we were covid patients out for spreading covid. And if that were the case, were the cops in his team equipped with super vision to identify us as Covid Positives?
This got him mad and he confirmed our detention along with the car.
The first cop was extremely delighted. He ran towards my car and started opening doors to shove us inside. I saw things getting out of my control. The cop next to me seemed a bit empathetic and counselled me to pay the fine instead of getting into the clutches of these mad men. It is better this way, we can’t do much, we are just following orders. Some derive pleasure while we are pained. But we are helpless. I felt the truth in those words and gave in. I hollered back at the chief and told him that we will pay the fine.
The first cop was dismayed and argued, “These people have disrespected me and wasted an hour of my time.” My wife looked at her watch and pointed it at the chief.
The first cop immediately corrected himself, “Okay okay. It was 20 minutes. But I have never been dishonoured and humiliated like this! I want them behind bars. Behind bars I say.”
He kept on calling out to people and ran around the car a couple of times.
The chief saw us paying the fine so he had no option of letting us go. He tried to console the first cop but to no avail. He was still pissed and mental at us.
We paid a fine of 1000/- which would have been our weekly vegetable, fruit, and travel cost.
This made me realise the idiocy in carrying out the orders by the cops. I had heard stories and wanted to write about it but never had anyone close to face such atrocity.
I have no idea, if the higher authorities are sane enough to understand this and be a bit more empathetic and understanding towards citizens.