It was a reflex action, there was no other way to explain Mamta’s juvenile getaway. The traffic policeman was squinting at her papers when her right foot took on a life of its own, the silver Honda retreating in a nebula of guilt and anger.
A law abiding citizen belching on values, Mamta had a strong sense of black and white. “How can people break rules? I was brought up to respect authority,” she often simmered at the apparent state of anarchy around.
“Madam, do you realize why I waved you down?” the cop had said. She had apparently stepped over the yellow divider, literally crossing the line! There had been a car snailing ahead and Mamata had swung the slightest right to overtake. This was embarrassing! Another policeman had sauntered up to her window putting pen to the challan book. “License and pollution papers?” he had drawled. It rattled her to be at the receiving end of such pedestrian demands. “This is a copy, where is the original license?” Mamta remembered silently cursing her husband “Damn Hari’s cautiousness, he advocated carrying copies, just in case.”
“Please hurry up and take whatever you have to. Don’t ask me all these questions!” she had glared at the lukewarm men. “You will have to pay penalty Madam. Copy not allowed ” and Mamta was gone, leaving the traffic keepers clutching at her history.
Foolishly enough, she had dared hope for sympathy at home. “You just drove off like that?” her husband was aghast. “Leaving your license and papers behind?” his voice climbed a scale. Mamta was frigid, “It was your idea to carry a copy!”
Hari was crestfallen, an organizer to the core, his study shelves arrayed with files on everything from family finances to the dog’s medical records. “I know, I know but to slip away like that, from under their noses…I don’t believe this!” And of course Mamta found it convenient to be defensively dismissive “Forget the license, it was just a copy”
“No way, I will have to retrieve the lot. You must keep your wits about you and that Radio FM plays too loud in your car. Get into the habit of anticipating honey.” Mamta tuned him out, pulling the original license from her metal cupboard to tuck it carefully into her cards pouch. She was livid with herself already and Hari’s litany sounded like he was rubbing it in.
A highly educated professional, Mamta took pride in her self-sufficiency “I am not clinging to my husband like a vine.” She was therefore self-contained when Hari dropped a white packet on her work table the following evening. He was puffed up and preening with victory “Here are your car papers Madam Bolter!” In that moment, the traffic policeman seemed almost a friend.