Sunday, November 16, 2008

Battered and Bruised

On last Friday, having purchased a few books on GRE preparation at Nilkhet, I was crossing the nearby road to avail a rickshaw to go office because of an exigency. There was the usual cacophony of street hawkers' loud cry to the prospective customers, pedestrians' louder voice to make his words intelligible to the intended person they are talking to and the nerve-grating blaring horn of buses and other motorized vehicles. While I was crossing, a rickshaw-puller in the middle of the road caught sight of me. He was arguing with a traffic police. Well... that's a commonplace in Dhaka. But what distinguished him from the other incidents was his vehement expression of grievance. He was about to break into tears. The story was as simple as this : the rickshaw-puller attempted to go in a direction that is made inaccessible for rickshaws. The traffic police beated him on the leg. The rickshaw-puller got infuriated and got into a brawl with him. I stood at a safe place near the brawl to know the reason. Pointing towards the ankle, the hapless rickshaw-puller yelled at the police, "You could just tell me not to go in that direction. Why did you beat me here? Can you see the mark of bruise?" The police remained callous and said impassively, "sod off !" The rickshaw-puller then started pulling his rickshaw by hands grimacing his face in excruciating pain. Right then I felt an impulse to go to the police and say with a sombre voice and a straight face, "Try to behave like a human ! Most of the people around think of you as inhuman creatures. You could go well without beating that rickshaw-puller." Nonetheless, the thought couldn't overshadow the fact that these traffic police lead a miserable life and left me ambivalent. I was hesitant and eventually left the spot.

Battered and bruised the rickshaw-puller was, so I was.