A couple of years after we got married, Anjali went to Pune to pursue a post-graduation course. She was there for one complete year. I had to stay alone at home. I experienced this for the first time in life. Be it hostel or home, I never stayed all alone. It was boring. Not only boring, but to be honest it was scary as well. I couldn’t sleep properly at night. That particular year I visited Pune quite a few times. Initially I travelled by Volvo bus. It took 15 hours, but the journey was comfortable. Then with “Air Deccan” the game changed entirely. I was able to reach Pune in less than couple of hours, that too at matching Bangalore-Pune Volvo Bus price.
I stayed alone in Bangalore for almost a month. I visited my buddies on weekends, sometimes during weekdays as well. One day I came in contact with my college hostel buddies, Ram and Mriganka. They both recently moved to Bangalore and were searching for a place of shelter. I offered them our rented house. They agreed. They also shared the rent. I was happy to stay with my old buddies once again. Ram had always been as good as his name. He slept early, woke up very early, cleaned the house, took shower, finished with his Puja, prepared breakfast and tea, tried to wake us up before he left for office. On the other hand I and Mriganka maintained the same old hostel life style. But we both were chefs in the house.
It was 11:15 pm. Ram was already dead in bed. I and Mriganka were watching TV. Mriganka had a cigarette with him. He went to the Kitchen to look for a matchbox.
“Oh shit,” We both realized we already used the last piece of the matchstick just couple of hours back to cook dinner. The gas lighter was not in working condition. We scanned the entire kitchen but couldn’t find a matchstick. We then looked at the place where Ram used to do his Puja, but no luck.
"The nearby shop must be closed by now," said Mriganka.
"We can find some light in the main road. There’s a wine shop there. If we’re going that far we can bring a quarter as well," I suggested, and Mriganka instantly liked the idea.
It was 11:30 pm. We didn’t bother to wake up Ram. We locked the main door from outside. We started to walk. None of us had any vehicle that time. We reached our destination. The place was about half a km from our house. The cigarette shop was closed. The wine shop was also half closed. The shutter was down, not completely though. There was still some room for desperate buyers to place their order. We tried our part. We also made special request for a matchbox. Suddenly, a police jeep stopped in front of the shop with a screeching sound, applying brakes. Immediately the shutter was completely down. Few policemen approached us. Without saying anything they took us inside the vehicle. I and Mriganka kept pleading our innocence. But it seemed the policemen didn’t have ears. There was a handcuffed person sitting together with us at the back of the jeep.
"Where are they taking us?" I asked the buddy.
He made a weird expression. We could make out that the guy was least bothered with our situation. I and Mriganka were terribly tensed. It had already been 15 minutes. We had no idea where the police were taking us to. I thought of calling some of my friends, but didn’t.
"Are we going to stay in prison?"
"What about going to office tomorrow morning?"
Several disturbing thoughts were swimming around my head. Suddenly the jeep slowed down. A signboard grabbed my attention. "JP Nagar 2nd phase Police Station". The jeep stopped. I was pretty relaxed. We were actually at a walking distance from our house.
"But why it took so long? Must be police patrolling," my mind talked to me.
The policemen took us at the reception. They spoke something in Kannada which we couldn’t make out anything. The person at the reception seemed to be gentleman. He offered us seats. It was 12:30 in the night. The merciless policemen who picked us up already left. We had a chat with the gentleman in charge. Few constables also joined. One of them was very young. It seemed he joined the force recently. All were friendly to us. We got to know from them that we had violated some IPC section, but I couldn’t recall which one. I do remember the fine amount though. We were asked to pay Rs 250 each. We tried to argue, asked explanation.
"I’m living in Bangalore for the last three years. It’s such a nice and cool city. This is for the first time I’m having such a bad experience," I actually tried to reduce the fine amount.
"Bangalore has changed sir. It’s for your own safety. You have no idea what all late night crimes happen on the streets of Bangalore. People cut the ears and take away earrings. They hit on the head, take all the belongings," the good policeman explained.
We didn’t have 500 cash with us. They said we can pay the amount the next morning, and asked us to go home.
"But how could we walk home now. It’s so late. And you only mentioned about the ongoing criminal activities. Please escort us to home. We can pay the money now itself."
The policemen smiled, but they dropped us home. We went upstairs, unlocked the main door. Ram was still totally dead, snoring. We looked for the money. All total we had 450.
"You guys are staying in such a big house and you don’t have even 500 Rs to pay the Karnataka Government," one of the constable commented.
"Sir, the house only looks big from outside, inside it is very small. And then it’s just a rented house," we clarified.
They were about to go.
"Sir, one small help. If you don’t mind could you please give us a matchstick?"
"Sorry we don’t smoke," was the answer.
"Hopeless policemen," I wondered.
I and Mriganka went inside. We both had a good laugh. We didn’t give up so easily yet. We again searched for one precious matchstick. It was 1:30 am. Finally we went to sleep. Lucky cigarette. It actually survived the entire night.
Grab a copy of my debut book Story of Tublu from Amazon or Flipkart. It is a Contemporary Fiction novel, published by LiFi Publications Pvt Ltd. The book has its share of drama, that entertains; humor, that makes one reminisce; love, friendship and emotions that defines the amazing journey that is, life.