It was half past midnight. The pub I was in was about to close soon. My friends had already left. Avoiding the heavily drunk crowd, I made my way towards the door and then, to the main road. I was in a half drunk state myself. At the main road, an auto rickshaw driver approached me.
“Where do you go sir?” He asked.
“Nowhere”, I responded almost immediately and continued to walk on the footpath. My house was about 8 kilometres away from where I was but I did not want to stop walking. Despite my tiredness, I continued to march towards my home. It sure was a long walk but it was interesting.
On my way, I watched a bunch of people surrounding a tea seller for some freshly brewed tea; many others were busy heading back home from who knows where and some ferocious dogs barked at me for no particular reason. Without the horrendous traffic, the Bangalore roads appeared wide and spacious. The cool breeze brushed against my cheeks; that felt rejuvenating. Nothing could have stopped me. I felt free.
Almost a kilometre away from my house, a police car slowly approached me. There were two policemen in the car. Finding no reason to stop, I continued to walk. They honked and signaled me to stop.
“Do you know what time it is?" One of them asked me, in a rude tone.
I pulled out my cellphone from my pocket and checked the time.
“1:30 AM Sir.” I replied sincerely.
“And what are you doing here this late? “He asked.
“I am returning home from my friend’s house. I stay not very far from here. The auto rickshaw drivers always trouble us at night by demanding double the fare, so I decided to walk.” I gave an elaborate answer probably was unnecessary.
“What if someone attacks you, breaks your head or mugs you? And here you are walking on the streets this late.” He responded in a sarcastic tone.
By now I was angry at his disrespectfulness but avoiding a dispute with the policemen that always turns unfavourable to the common men, I completely ignored him and continued my walk towards home. He said nothing more and let me pass by.
“How could a policeman say such a thing?” I asked myself.
“Is it not his duty to protect me against the thugs and thieves? Isn’t he obliged to create a safe city for the citizens?” I thought.
But there was no point arguing with a policeman who lacked humility. Ignoring the incident, I kept walking.
About half a kilometre gone, I came across four young men standing under a tree by the road. They appeared to be from the Northeastern part of the country. Seeing me approach they discussed something among themselves. That made me feel uncomfortable and apprehensive. One of the four boys walked towards me and asked if I had a telephone app that could book a taxi for them.
“No”, I replied and hurried away. That was a lie.
A few distance gone I felt embarrassed about my behaviour. I wondered if my act was justifiable. Several questions emerged in me.
“Why did I react in such a manner?”
“What if they were really in need of help?”
I recollected the incident with the police that had occurred only a few minutes ago. Many of the questions found their answers but others surfaced.
“Is it a crime to fearlessly walk alone, late in the night? Or is it so, when one human refuses to help another, out of fear?”