I was walking past a bush at the venue of a fashion show when the bush said “Hsst” to me. I stopped of course, because a talking bush can always be counted on to break the monotony. “Why are you hssting me?” I asked politely because I felt one should never give attitude to a talking bush. “It’s me,” said the bush wriggling madly, “SP Sachcha Phul.”
“Why Sachcha Phul!” I said, “Why are you hiding behind that bush? You don’t have an invitation for the fashion show?”
“I do so have an invitation,” he said with injured dignity, “But you never can tell what people will make of it, especially the media. Some of my colleagues are jumping at their own shadows.”
“Ah,” I said, “That’s why you are sitting behind that bush.”
“Not really,” he said. “But the media has ruined the reputation of the police force. What they think? We don’t have lives of our own to live?”
“You are talking about your colleagues who were playing Catching Cook with the media on a casino boat?” I said.
“To you people it is all a big joke,” he said bitterly. “They forget we have to do bandobast duty, attend inaugurations of new police stations, solve serial murders, and apprehend terrorists. Are we not allowed to let down our hair once in a while?”
“Of course you can,” I said, “but it does look odd if cops or any other pillars of society, who are on the public payroll, are found in places like casinos.”
“Do you know how much money we have to pay to join the police force? It goes into lakhs and lakhs,” he said.
“I know,” I said sympathetically, “And you have to earn that money back as fast as you can. That is why your colleagues went to the casino? To reduce their deficit?”
“Not everyone gets that point,” he said, “They just jump to conclusions and it is very upsetting.”
“Well naturally, it is a way of making money. Far better than demanding bribes. But casinos are frowned upon as dens of vice. That is why the uproar,” I said.
“How come there is no uproar when we bet on matka numbers?” he said. “I don’t see why matka has to be pampered so much by the public. This is bound to give the casinos an inferiority complex.”
“It is unfair that while goons and corporate kings and politicians and women of easy virtue can climb unquestioned on board a casino, everyone gets all upset when cops do the same,” I said.
“It’s as if we are second class citizens,” he said.
“I agree,” I said. “It’s not as if anyone thinks cops are pure as the driven snow. On the contrary. Everyone knows you are corrupt and have ill-gotten wealth. So why get so upset over cops found in a casino?”
“I don’t know why people expect miracles from us,” he said. “We are like everyone else. We joined the police force to make money, nothing else. All of you take up jobs and professions to make money, so why get your knickers in a twist over us doing the same?”
“Well you are expected to protect the people of Goa,” I said.
“Of course we protect the people of Goa. What you think, huh? We protect people of Tamilnadu?” he said. “We protect those we are told to protect. From the rest we take hafta, and any fool would tell you that is protection of the best kind.”
“What about the poor and the marginalized?” I asked. “What happens when they are injured or killed?”
“What you talking about? They get compensation,” he said. “It’s not as if they don’t benefit. It’s all tied up nicely. We have nothing to hide. But with us cops, every day is a gamble.”
“So why are you hiding behind this bush? You should be sitting in your allotted seat and enjoying the fashion show,” I said.
“Because I’m waiting to catch Wendell Rodricks,” he said.
“You want to arrest Wendell?” I asked, “What’s he done?”
“He hasn’t done anything. I don’t want to arrest him,” he said getting annoyed. “I want him to design special chor pockets in our uniforms, so we can keep packs of cards, dice and casino chips.”
“Makes sense, especially now since the DGP said going to a casino is like going to a church or a temple, or going fishing. Perfectly legal,” I said.