About 5 years ago, I had entered into a verbal contract to sell a flat owned by my sister, in Vasant Kunj. The prospective buyers, call them Gupta and Sharma, were real estate professionals, and insisted I take a ‘bayana’, a cash amount that was witness, as it were, to this contract. The money lay in my cupboard, so, when one of them phoned a few weeks later, to call off the contract, I asked him to come over and collect the amount.
No papers had been signed, so once I had handed over the cash, I expected them to leave. Instead, Gupta turned to Sharma, and asked, ‘Aur hamaari baat?’. Sharma responded aggressively, “Kaunsi baat?”. “Kaagaz pey sign kar.”
I wanted no part of this. “Dekhiye, aap log apni baat kahin aur keejiye. Mera aap se kaam khatam ho gaya hai”. But the testosterone levels had risen, and by now, so had Sharma. One bulky middle-aged broker reached across me to the other, and tried to haul him up. “Sign kartey ho ya nahin?”
“Aap log yeh sab road pey kijiyega”, I tried to intervene.
They were deaf in their anger. “Main nahin karta”.
Gupta reached for his phone, “Mein police ko bula raha hoon.” And dialled 100.
“Not from my house – I have nothing to do with this”. But Gupta had lodged his complaint, along with my address. Cowed, Sharma signed. Triumphant, Gupta got up to leave.
“Hey, you can’t leave like that – you’ve sent for the police”.
“I’ll tell them not to come”, said Gupta, and called the Police Control Room again.
15 minutes later, two cops arrived, one a lanky constable in his 20s, the other a 50-year old sub-inspector with a stout paunch and hennaed hair. “Aap ka complaint aaya tha.”
“Not exactly,” I tried to explain to him what had happened.
“Complaint to aap hi ne kiya.”
Of course I hadn’t complained, the complainant had withdrawn his complaint, and Gupta and Sharma had gone gruffly into the night. “And if you don’t believe me, you can compare my number with the one lodged at the PCR.”
Henna-hair winked at Lanky, and dismissed him. “Let me handle this”, his smarmy look said. Lanky slithered out and down the stairs.
With a grunt of satisfaction, henna-hair settled deeper into my sofa, crossed his arms, and declared, “To phir aapne apne kissi naukar se phone karaaya hoga.
Between Sharma, Gupta, and now henna-hair, I had had enough. “Main ne aap ko samjha diya, ki main ne PCR nahin phone kiya. Lekin kar sakta hoon. Aur is baar, complaint aap ke khilaaf hogi. Ki aap mujhe sataaney ki koshish kar rahe ho.”
“Nahin, nahin, yeh aap hya keh rahe hain. Main ne apni beti ki shaadi karni hai.” This was a different man, a different voice, and on his breath, there was more than a whiff of alcohol.
“And you’re drinking on duty?”
“Sirf ek shot, Sir!” Suddenly I was ‘Sir’!
“Subah bas se utartey vakht gir gayaa. Chot lag gayee. Bahut dard kar raha tha.”
He proffered his arm, and the wrist was red and swollen.
“Aap baithiye, main aa raha hoon”, I went into my bedroom to fetch him some pain-killing medication. By the time I had switched on the light, he was in my bed-room door. ”Sir, aisey mat karna, main aap ke paav padta hoon.” He staggered as he bent towards my feet, and it took me a couple of seconds to figure that he thought I had gone to make that phone call in private.
“Nahin! Main aap ke liye davai laa rahaa tha.”
“Main dava nahin leta hoon. Ek bhi tablet kha loon, to sar sunnn ho jaata hai”, he rolled his orange-topped head to emphasise the sensation.
“Din dahadey rum pee letey ho aur kucch nahin hota, lekin ek chhoti-si tablet se dartey ho? Le lo, dard kam ho jaayegi.” I escorted him to the door.