South Mumbai, April 2006:
The city was gripped in the helter-skelter movement of crazy vehicles, buses, cabs and trucks, almost ramming into each other. A city of extreme where accident cease to exist in its dictionary where scurried steps in Mumbai means money. The lanky fellow plods his steps and his ear drum witnesses honking at maddening speed, motor vehicles swirling their way in sheer desperation. He dons a composed demeanor, trying to slowly find his steps by walking on the side of the pavement, bordering Churchgate Station.
The man turns his gaze, upping his chin to stop for a while after taking few steps. His mind worked to perfection on how to get on the other side of the fence. He felt restless, energy dripped down his body and sweated. He curses his fate, ‘There is no one in this ruthless city who can stop for a minute to help a hapless soul like me.’ Horde of Mumbaikars brushing past him, some feigning ignorance while some were simply not interested to show him direction. After all, who has time in Maximum City!
He furiously brandishes the white stick which dangles in the air, sos call for help as his hope of a good samaritan coming to his rescue dimmed by the minute. It’s been since past an hour he is wandering hopelessly on the street of Mumbai where he could hear the excited voices of street urchins doing the somersault and gushing at the train sirens.
The police inspector was sitting in the van, whining his time and scouting movement in the part of the busy city. His eyes struck the bunch of loafers who were jeering at the blind man and got off the van to chase them off. Pushing his protruding belly forward, the constable walked at brisk pace and offers to help the man cross the road. He held his hand and took him to the van. “Where do you want to go?” the cop asks.
The blind man stammers, “I want to sit at Marine Drive to feel the sea breeze and sensation of sea water among the crowd.”
“Chalo! I’ll take you there. Sit inside the van,” the inspector drove towards Marine Drive. The blind’s man recognized the familiar voice and got wind of the cop’s nefarious activity but kept mum. The police van parked near the sea face as he escorts the blind man towards the parapet. As he inches his way out of the van, he grabs the black leather bag in the nick of time. The police constable smiles, “What a coincidence. We have similar bags.” The van disappears within a faraway distance.
The fateful day replayed in front of his eyes when he wriggled the bag from the fist of the ruthless inspector. It contained one lakh rupees, embezzled from criminals. After all, he was a new recruit, promoted as constable when he saw the inspector gunning down two gang members. He tried to reason with the senior inspector who slapped him before hitting him on both eyes with the gun. His world went black.
The blind man could feel a sense of victory today as the sea breeze ruffles his hair and gently stroke his face. The white stick touches the ground, guided him towards the boulders which he hangs on to in a clumsy way as he steps downwards, fling the bag in the sea water. Two lakh rupees now belongs to the Arabian sea. He climbed back and approaches a young couple who happily agreed to put him in a taxi on its way to VT station.