The Power of One

Though this post is super-delayed, I simply HAVE to share this incident, because, well, (in a dramatic voice) the world needs to know!!

For a long while, I had been hearing glowing reports about the Chennai Traffic police, and what a fabulous job they are doing. They have their own helpline and website and all- hell, they even have their own Facebook page! But ofcourse, I have had vey forgettable encounters with them. Because until very recently, almost ALL my encounters with them have been either very embarrassing or super unforgivable.

Anyway, the turning point happened on Jan 5, 2013. Yours truly, the brother and the brother’s friend were driving back home at around 10.30 PM, amidst happy chatter, good music and a sack full of shopping goodies, at a very reasonable speed of 40 kmph. All of a sudden, a car overtook us from our left and cut into our right, grazing our car, and slammed to a stop in the middle of the road. Two boys staggered out and came towards us, going all, ‘What the fuck, who do you think you are, we will go to the police! You want us to go to the police?’ Now considering our history with the police, we wanted nothing to do with them, especially when one of the duo was all, ‘My uncle is the XXX with the police force, I will talk to wait!’ But this attitude was pissing us off. The height of it was when this character, reeking of beer, asked me if I was drunk (ha ha). So we asked him to call his uncle, and waited.

The duo had called 100 and they filed a complaint. At close to 11.30 PM, the police patrol car pulled by, and they started interrogating them and us, separately. Evidence was all stacked against them. You do NOT overtake a vehicle from the left. You do NOT cut in front of a moving vehicle from left to right. You do NOT drive when you have had a few beers. Our car’s left side bore tell tale scratches, as did their car’s right. The nice policeman told them that it was their mistake, and they could settle it with us now and here. Either they were too drunk, or they imagined that they could talk to some big shot in the police station and get us framed- so they adamantly insisted that we go to the station and file a complaint.

Consider this. It was close to midnight. My head was swarming with the horrible stories people told about police stations, and how a girl can refuse to go to one if it is too late and all that. So I nudge my brother and ask him if I HAD to come. The car was registered in my name. So there were a hundred formalities. The policeman heard us, and looked at me and said, ‘Vaa ma, naanga irukom ille, Bayapadathe.’ (Come, child. We are thereright? We wont let anything happen to you.) So off we went to the station, and the nice policeman made me sit outside the cabin while his boss interrogated the boys.

The one who claimed to know somebody Big went all, ‘Hello sir, how are you? You remember me? You worked under my uncle a couple of years back?!’, while we rolled our eyes and swatted mosquitoes. The boss brushed it all aside (Respect!) and told the boy that he was at fault and he could settle things amicably right away. When he did not budge, the superior in question raised his voice a teeny bit, but it had almost instant effect. ‘Do you want a breath analyser test?’ he growled, ‘We all know who is drunk here and who isn’t, and you still want to take it to the court??’ He then gestured to us and asked us to file a formal complaint, sending the two drunk boys out.

My brother apologized for the trouble, asking if he was going to get into some trouble in the department for screwing senior folks’ relatives like this. His reply brought goose bumps to my arms.

‘What will they do? They will move me from this station or role and throw me somewhere else. Really, that is ALL they can do, and nothing else. As long as this uniform is on me, I will do justice to it. If we let this boy out, he will only drive drunk again and again, thinking nobody can touch him. Today it is a scratch on your car, tomorrow it could be somebody’s life. We have a duty to do here, no reason for you to apologize or thank us.’

All our jaws dropped to the floor. This guy was not one bit like the cops we had met! EVER! We were grinning like fools, with warmth that was filling our hearts in the chill of that January night, signing that complaint document.

We were told that they would try to scare the duo away and they would try o close it in the station itself, and not drag it to the court, like the boys wanted. If it did go, the inspector said, ‘I will come there myself, and be the witness. This complaint has my name, and my signature. Even if it goes to the Supreme Court, it would need my presence while being heard. Even if they move me from this post, it would still be MY case, so don’t you worry. I will take care.’

We never heard back from them. But then, our respect for the traffic police increased multifold with the incident. The power of One! 🙂


Edit: On readers’ demands to disclose the name of the Officer- His name is Mr Ganesh Ram, he was deputed to the Pondy Bazaar Police station (Chennai) when this incident happened.