Thursday, March 29, 2012

42. ABOUT SOMEONE VERY SPECIAL

‘Satakapata noveda?’(සටකපට නොවේද?). Well, for those who know the meaning of ‘satakapata’, I don’t need to explain but for those who don’t , well, it means something like ‘cunning’ but for Amma, it always meant and still means ‘what nonsense!’. I know the meanings sound contrasting but well that’s Amma. And this was a phrase almost always said by Amma and it grew to be a kind of a household word. But the true meaning of this word was brought into action on a holiday when I was about 7 or 8 or even smaller.  

We used to live in a rented house in the heart of the village. That was the most awesome village anyone can ever imagine. It had  everything a village was supposed to have. Paddy fields, hills, rubber yards, gravel roads, friendly and at times inquisitive neighbors, innocent villagers, small shops where people gather to have a chat, buffaloes being herded in front of the house every evening and morning. It was a paradise for a growing up kid and I still love that village up to this day. The shady trees, the grassy meadows, it all added up to the amazing child hood I had. 

So on the particular day my parents and I went to a small well bordering the paddy field. It was a very welcome change by our family. We have to walk through the rubber yard to get there. And I had my very own small metal bucket. And on this special day I also had a balloon with me which at the time I never knew would create the situation it did. 

The well was not deep and had no wall around and the water was very cool and comforting. There were trees of all kinds all around. First I was given a bath and then Amma dressed me and asked to be on shore till they had a bath. I wasn’t supposed to go out of vicinity so I was playing with my balloon and the thorny tree next to it, which was quite a dangerous combination. 

Suddenly I pricked the balloon on a thorn and it burst with an enormous sound more like a gun shot. Then what followed was a memory that would last forever. One split second after the balloon blasted a splash followed. I swung around just in time to see Amma slip and fall into the well. She must have turned suddenly and lost her balance. And then I saw Thaththa throwing away his bucket and diving in after her. Then they were both in the well and one by one they came out, Amma with the help of Thaththa. She was coughing and otherwise ok. And guess what is the first thing she said. Dripping wet, sitting there on the ground she blurted out ‘satakapata noveda?’ 

But I think this incident make us all drop the word. I never heard it being used after that.


It was she who made the sweets I knew and learnt to adore growing up as a kid. And up to this day there is no other food that can beat hers. It always tastes so homely and loving. My favorite delicacies were Sweet meat balls, chocolate cake, homemade ice cream, homemade yogurt, wade, coconut toffees, raspberry buns….ok I am going to cut short and say that anything she makes was  heavenly. 

Well on this special day for the New Year she wanted to try to make her favorite delicacy…'Dodol'. It was a traditional sweet that’s made by people in the down south and Amma has never tried this before. So this new year was going to be special. We told our cousins and aunts and uncles too that this year we are giving them ‘ dodol’. 

Actually it was me who spread the word. And the day she started to make it, I was with her throughout, licking the condensed milk cans and stealing cashews and likewise. And it smelled so good. But Amma wasn’t happy and she was sure it didn’t come out well. As it is supposed to be we poured it into a tray and let it set. And then when it was time to cut it, well that’s when we all realized it wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. It is supposed to be cut in neat pieces. Clean cut. But ours was kind of sticky and more like a toffee. This was when Thaththa gave it its’ unforgettable name ‘ doffi’ since it was a cross between ‘dodol’ and ‘toffee’. And when visitors came he would ask them “would you like a piece of doffee?’ and they would ask what that was and our reply would be ‘A new dish that we tried for this year’. But for me it tasted better than any genuine ‘dodol’ I ever ate.


Amma also has this awesome habit of giving away things. Well this sometimes made me mad too. She would always give away nice stuff saying that no need to pile up things without any use. On teacher’s day when she gets gifts all she brings home are some flowers. She distributed all the cutlery and stuff to the other teachers. The days Teflon pans came into use we got an awesome set for ourselves too. And we were all waiting anxiously for the day we would use it. 

A few days later a newly wed couple came to visit us. And we have this tradition of giving the newly weds a gift when they visit your home [which I don’t like at all for obvious reasons]. And when they got ready to leave Amma ran inside and came back with the brand new set of pans and gave them away. We all watched with wide eyes as the couple went back home equipped with our new pans. That’s the reason I guess that the next time we got pans again Thaththa quickly fried an egg in one of them.


But Thaththa wasn’t at all prepared for what she did next. Thaththa always used to be a 'shorts wearing dude' and we have very very rarely seen him wearing ‘sarongs’. So imagine his excitement, when one New Year he got a sarong as a gift. He was very happy with it and was saying that he was going  to reserve it for visitors but anyway he said he was going to ‘train wear’ it. 

So from that day on different occasions we saw him parading with the sarong. And it seemed that he was beginning to get the hang of it. Then one day when he came back and searched for the sarong it seemed to be missing. When he asked Amma this is what she said “ oh Henry, this beggar came here this morning asking for old clothes and I gave away the sarong, too as you don’t wear it anyway”. And in hope to lighten up the moment she also added ‘And the beggar was really happy to get such a new sarong. He thanked you profusely”…


And also Amma has this amazing ability to rename people. If there is a guy called ‘Somadasa’ he will always be called ‘Somasiri’ or ‘ Somapala’ but never Somadasa. And she always sticks to that name. She would name him Somasiri and he would always be Somasiri and never be mixed up with his real name Somadasa or any other alternates like Somapala. And this goes for any name. Chandrasiri would be Chandrapala, Soma would be Sumana, Chandrani would be Chandani, Gunasiri would be Gunasoma and like wise. 

And every time we correct her [specially Thaththa who has this habit of interrupting what she was saying and correcting her] she would just say ‘It is okay what I call him/her because you and they know I am saying about them. So no need to bother about that’. He he he he…. And the funniest thing is the people who are called like that by Amma really do know that she is talking to them and they never bother to correct her. Sometimes I wonder if ‘Somadasa’ really believes he is ‘Somasiri’ after some time……

All in all what I have to say is she is the best Mother anyone can ever imagine. And I really hope that someday I will grow up to be like her. Well to tell the truth I think I already got her knack for cooking. Anyone who has tasted my food will sure confirm that….

This article was written by my daughter Hiruni on my request. I published the original version.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

41. BLOGWALKER’S PIT STOPS ON THE HIGHWAY

Never Leave Home Without Them!
The red oil-warning lamp had come up about 5 kilometers back. Even without the red warning lights I knew I was also low on petrol and money, not only the 2T engine lubricating oil. We were low on money as we always were closer to the next salary. That was common to everybody in a country where everybody was always underpaid.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

40. The Blogwalkers Method Of Fighting Terror With Terror

I ducked the first swing Moray aimed at my head without much difficulty. Even the second swing, which was a very much low-end version in technique, but had a lot of muscle behind it, fanned the top of my head. If contacted it could have been disastrous.
Then I saw my chance which I took. Moray’s middle was still exposed as he was still recovering from his own wild swing. I aimed my first swing at Moray’s solar plexus at lightning speed. Air whooshed out of his lungs as he bent forward. My second left met his oncoming flat wide nose with all the fury I had which made contact with a smack. I guess, he’d never had experienced such pain in his life.

I heard the crowd go wild.

“Hey, come here everybody, this dude is pumping air!”, someone screamed.

And the crowd thickened.

Then it dawned on me that the kind of boxing/karate punches I used was something completely novel to this school. This was a wild-swing-and-hammer-blow-place not a punch-jab-kick-place. They saw my high speed, short range, piston action punches that travelled in a straight line, like someone pumping a bicycle tyre inflator. 

Moray who was nursing a red swollen nose now was furious. He kept on threatening me that he would set his wild big brothers on me on our way back home from school. Others dragged him away. The fight with the woodpecker was postponed till the interval as the bell rang to mark the start of the school session.

In the class Moray was constantly threatening to take the revenge. I saw a great change in other’s faces. No one uttered a word. Some seemed to be secretly amused. Already the ‘theory of intimidation’ was in action.

I think I saw through his façade of nonchalance the woodpecker was somewhat shaken.
Nothing that was taught in the next periods went into my head. Not that I was so much preoccupied with the thoughts of next fight that would change the history of this school and of my own future, my mind started jogging down the memory lane.

Because my father was a government official, I had to change schools continuously. So, I had seen more and heard more than the regular stock. Unfortunately, those weren’t all happy memories.

Bullying is more dangerous and painful than ragging. Ragging is a group activity which you go through as a team. The humiliation and the pain is shared. On the other hand bullying is most probably suffered individually. I don’t know about you dudes, but I have almost always been bullied alone.

Though they say the children are like flowers, you meet the devils first as you arrive at your new school. Not the flowers. It takes time to recognize and isolate the flowers. By the time you do, it’s time to move on with your bags packed, to a new destination with new devils to deal with.

My parents didn’t have the faintest idea that I suffered so much from this constant change of schools, because I never complained. Neither did the teachers. Come to think of it. It still baffles me if the teachers were genuinely unaware of the fate of the new comers to their schools. I believe they should pay more attention to that.

However at the new school I had to fight alone perhaps with a whole class. I generally am a fast learner and remember what I learn. This, they say, is a strange concept to us Sri Lankans. So I was casehardened prematurely. I was hardnosed for my struggle for survival.

When I suffered at the hands of bullies about twice, I invented my method of survival. It was Fighting Terror With Terror. I really did it way before George Bush did. When we left the convent where little boys like me also were admitted for lower grades to the other junior school, we were bullied as a group. I got it most maybe because I had a kinda trouble inviting face.

I got to know the big boy (big in my eyes) who lived in the front house did boxing. I pestered him till he agreed to teach me some of the boxing techniques, to which I added what I learnt from the movies also and made a concoction of my own combat style. It was street fighting to be more precise and mixed martial arts to be politically correct. I practiced on banana trees and gunny rice sacks.

The turning point of all these was replacing the wild swing and the girlish hammerblow with punches and jabs.


The most common clumsy wild swing and hammerblow gathered momentum from the extra distance. It traveled in a semi circular path. In comparison, punches and jabs originating from the front of the chest or waist traveled in a more of a straighter line and had a shorter haul and more speed but needed technique to compensate for the momentum.

The biggest snag of the clumsy wild swing was you had enough time to block or dodge it because of the lag in speed. And the attackers chest and abdomen are exposed most of the time. This didn’t worry the bullies much because it was only rarely that anyone fought back.

It was I who needed protection, because I had a struggle for survival. All the bullies wanted was to protect what they already had, which didn’t involve much as others steered clear of them.

Other vital factors were the speed and agility which helped to block or dodge and hit back on the momentarily exposed vital areas. Footwork and proper balance, with your weight equally balanced on both feet at all the possible times. The bullies actually involuntarily helped me to practice this. When I was standing they used to creep up from  behind and kick me behind the knees, to make me bend the knees and collapse to the ground. Just because of this, I was always balanced on both the legs at any given time and waiting for trouble. And they were quite surprise to see me still standing when kicked behind the knees. They never found out how.

The other factor was ending the fight with a dramatic bloody finale. When the bullies targeted the stomach or cheek, I opted the nose and the mouth with soft tissue blood. A bleeding mouth can send both the opponent and audience into a shock, kicking morale in the ass.

This is where the ‘theory of intimidation’ comes into play. Ever heard of it?  It goes like this. Say that there is a leading thug in the class. Below him there is thug number 2 and on the rung below him there is thug number 3.. In the other classes also it’s the same. Like a federal state.  Likewise, there is one leading thug like the central government who overrules everyone. Even he has his deputy and there goes the pecking order. The  whole school is governed unofficially on the fact who is afraid of who.
“Are you afraid of him?”, “Are you afraid of me?” are common questions.

Just imagine if I beat the thug number 2 of this class in a duel. Then according to the theory of intimidation, I needn’t fight thug number 3 or anyone below him. They automatically surrendered without a fight, because I beat up the dude they were afraid of. Still according to the same theory, I’m still afraid of the thug number one until I beat him in another duel.

I recognized how this theory worked early. Before that I had wasted my energy on some unnecessary and unimportant fights that didn’t matter much.

The fighting culture varied from school to school.  In some schools, they don’t gang up and beat one. They fight one after the other.  Unfortunately, in some schools a whole class would beat up one newcomer. In some schools they won’t touch you when you are down, while in some there are beasts who would kick the fallen one as a gang.
I had enough bad luck to go to a school of the second category next. They didn’t like me from the beginning for a number of reasons. My fluency in English and my father dropping me and my sister off at the school gate in the morning are just a few.

At the beginning I managed to steer well clear of them. Later they used to get hold of me near the toilet. While two held me from two sides or someone had a headlock on me others will come in a line and punch my belly, or slap me. On the corridors, they would push one of them onto me and would ask, “Why are you knocking on me? Are you a thug, Huh?” and would give me a few beatings.

In the class they would throw paper balls, pieces of chalk at me. Outside they would throw water bags or hand signboards like “HIT ME”, “I’m Stupid” or a similar message.

Very soon I learnt who their leader and the deputy was.

That day when they were about to beat me up, I said,
“You are cowards and jerks.”

So surprised by my remark, they for a moment loosened their grip on me.
“If you are really cool, come one by one and try to  beat me.  Hey how about that, let’s challenge and fight?”

Even though this “challenge and fight” is a brand new concept for this school everyone seemed to agree to that. Especially that thug leader couldn’t walk away from that as even he was challenged by that.

So we arranged a morning for that before the school started. As I expected the first to fight me was not the Thug leader “Woodpecker”, but the deputy “Moray”, Woodpecker is a lightweight swift dude. Moray, on the other hand, is somewhat heavily built with a burn scar near his eye. All their reputation was actually dependent on their big mouths. The ones at the bottom of the pecking order were actually there according to the theory of intimidation, not ever by fighting them.

And the heavy defeat Moray suffered at the fight shook the very foundation of the theory of intimidation, and everyone.  ‘Pumping air’ seemed to have earned a new reputation as a practical and effective method beyond doubt.

Ting… a… ling… ling…!

The bell marking the beginning of the interval brought me back to the harsh reality with brutal force.

Round 2 started after I read out the rules one more time. The crowd had swollen as more and more wanted to see the newly arrived dude ‘pumping air’. This seemed to have made the woodpecker nervous. He had none of his old show off by shooting off with the mouth. So much was riding on this fight for him. Though he had his reputation to save, I had nothing to lose, only to gain.

Woodpecker had a speed that Moray or anybody else had. He was the 100m champion. And, his favorite shot was actually a slap.

As soon as the fight started, he aimed a couple of light swift slaps that landed on my face stinging my face leaving a burning sensation. Then I saw the moment I’ve been waiting for. My first punch on the woodpecker’s mouth made full contact, drawing blood originated either from  split lips of loosened teeth, I didn’t know which. The dude who wasn’t expecting this was thrown back against the wall.

Just because of his agility the woodpecker was instantly back on his sprightly feet. He jumped forward and made a wild swing at me, which I didn’t dodge. I simply blocked it and rammed my knee against his crotch. The woodpecker automatically doubled over meeting my double punch aimed at his middle head on, doubling the force of impact. That was the end of the fight, which changed the fighting history of the school and my future at the same time.


The woodpecker grabbed his crotch with one hand and middle with the other and lowered to the ground, writhing in pain. He sucked short shallow breaths making a choking noise at the throat. A sudden wave of fear, “What would happen if the dude dies on me” swept over me. The others dragged him to his feet and helped him away. 
And I was so much relieved to see the woodpecker limping back to the class after the bell without anyone supporting him.

Even though officially I was the entitled to the top thug I never wore it. And for the rest of the year I was at that school, no one challenged me.
I heard through the grapevine that it was said with great relish that the woodpecker had barked up the wrong tree at last. Woodpecker and I never spoke to each other after that fight. The next year I was at a new school. And even after several decades the woodpecker still pretends that he hadn’t recognized me even if we run into each other briefly, which is extremely rare.

I see Moray more often and though he avoided me at the beginning, now calls me ‘sir’ when he meets me maybe because he is a driver at a private company and I’m a teacher. I just call him ‘machan’.

EPILOGUE
I doubt if this story is an exemplary one, as stories in real life rarely are.
Anyway you’d better keep an eye on your child. Don’t ignore the unexplained scars, torn clothes, dirt stains and loose buttons. And be aware of the sudden change in behavior. Sudden dislike to go to schools.

I got to know my own daughter was being bullied at the private girls’ school in Colombo. It was some kids from another class, who broke the news to me. My kid being two years younger than her classmates was smaller and compact. When I inquired, I got to know that it was true.  It was some bigger bullies from another class that beat her up.

I followed the correct procedure by complaining to the class teacher, the sectional head and the principal several times. And as I expected to no avail as my complaints fell into deaf ears and the bullying continued.

I had to resort back to my own time tested ‘blogwalker method of Fighting terror With Terror’. I must admit that I had misgivings about this as my kid was a girl and smaller in size.

Anyway I taught her the basic taekwondo kicks and punches. She learnt fast and practices using my abs as the punching bag to give her the live target feeling. I was on my knees most of the time in the beginning. Later she learnt to kick higher and I kept standing. I warned her not to tackle the bullies until I give her the okay.

Gradually, what started like hesitant and weak childish kicks and punches, developed into  painful well aimed  ones with a purpose,  which made my abs sore. Time passed. Deepa was watching this with doubt.

That day when I went to her school to pick her up as usual.  She said I was supposed to meet the principal before going home that day. As I walked in the door I knew she had been anxiously waiting to meet me. 

“See Mr. Blogwalker what your daughter has done! Today we got a complaint that she has assaulted some children with her fists and feet and on top of that she has hit them with her helmet, too. We advised her. And you too Mr. Blogwalker, please talk to her about this,” I could barely conceal my grin.

See how fast the law has come into effect! Later as we were riding back through the city traffic, she sitting on the fuel tank of the bike gave me the summary. And when we picked up Deepa also she sat sandwiched between us and related the full story. I asked her to use what she learnt only in self defense. As far as I know the bullying ended as the bullies gave her a wide berth.

Maybe there is no moral behind this story. And I don’t recommend this method for you. I have only narrated these events as it happened. Maybe what I did is not suitable to be done by a father. Maybe what I did is something a teacher who took Child and Educational Psychology, shouldn’t even dream of.

But I know one thing. If I didn’t do that, my kid could have been bullied throughout her school life, would start to hate school, ruin her personality, her education and ultimately ruin her whole life.

Nothing of that sort happened.

Let’s see what she has to say about this today.





Saturday, March 10, 2012

39. HOW I QUIT SMOKING AT LAST

I smoke like hell on every 31st December because of my usual new year resolution to quit smoking from 1st of January. I stick to the plan the whole day on the first day and maybe the second. Somewhere between the 3rd and the 60th day I want to check if I’ve really kicked the habit and have smoke, and another and another to prove myself that I’m in control, not nicotine. And, I find myself back in square one.

I remember once while having a smoke with Jagath,(who is now in Paris I guess) I said every time I light up, I I’m thinking about quitting. Jagath had his own way of kinda liberal unconventional thinking. He asked me if really got any kick out of smoking. I said of course I did and that’s why I kept smoking. Then there’s no point in giving up something that you get a kick out of in this life he said. I remembered this statement every time I quit smoking.

In fact, I got a big sense of satisfaction, content and relaxation out of smoking no matter what the anti smoke groups would say. It helped me to spend the time, like a faithful companion. It helped me when I was lonely, away from home. It made me feel better when I was stressed out and disgusted of life. I smoked when I was happy and when I was sad. It served every mood. It made the company of friends more enjoyable. I couldn’t imagine having a drink without a smoke.  Every meal was punctuated with a cigarette. And, so was every cup of tea or coffee of fizzy drink. I sometimes had extra cups of tea out of the schedule, as an excuse to have a puff. Going to the toilet without a smoke was unimaginable. If there was a cigarette left, I woke up n the middle of the night to finish it.

I genuinely wanted to quit smoking. Every time I lit up I thought of the next possible ‘auspicious day’ like January first, my birthday, a kid’s birthday, wedding anniversary etc. that I could quit. Once I gave up smoking and kept off the stuff for over one year, until I had a drink with my brothers in law I met in a long time.

I knew smoking had a devastating effect on my budget and health both. I had this inevitable smokers’ cough. I once was scared shitless when I got a pain in one lung, and waiting for the medical reports from the battery of tests I underwent, was a nightmare. Finally, I was so much relieved to hear it was just mucus, which was relieved with medication like expectorants.  Every time I read a book or article or watched a movie or documentary on a case of lung cancer triggered by smoking, I determined to kick the habit. And, when I noticed the nicotine stains on my fingernails and back of my teeth I made a mental note that this has to stop. And the smoker himself smells like an ashtray , originating from the breath and the clothes, which the smoker would not notice much.

I was always short of change when I smoked, obviously. In Sri Lanka the Tobacco Company, which held the monopoly of manufacturing cigarettes, went on strike very often, causing island wide shortages. Shopkeepers rationed cigarettes, issuing a limited number of overpriced cigarettes to the regular customers only depending on the severity of the shortage. And this black-market price was often justified by the shopkeeper claiming that he also bought them at black market price just to make us faithful customers satisfied, which we knew wasn’t true.  And, when the things became worse, the smokers would drive/ride 20 -30 km on the rumors that cigarettes were still available at that particular shop at black-market prices.

Even being an adult, I never smoked in the presence of my parents out of respect. Maybe they knew I did. This may sound strange logic to you, if you aren’t Sri Lankan. We have strange ways of showing respect, depending on various factors. And, remember there are fathers and sons who smoke and drink together in some families.  Well, ours wasn’t one.

Nor did I smoke in front of my children, as it was unhealthy for them and bad example. Passive smoking is supposed to be worse than active smoking.

Sometimes we would miss the bus because of a smoke. Buses also had this nasty habit of beating you with Murphy’s Law, by turning up as soon as you light a cigarette when you are tired of waiting for it for so long. Anyway, the ban of smoking on buses was good. I supported that even when I was a smoker.

I made a point of never lying to my children. When my little son asked me one day if I smoked I had to lie, though. I didn’t feel as bad as I was supposed to, because I was planning to quit in the near future as always. When he asked why I didn’t smoke, I launched into the speech of Hazards of Smoking, which he absorbed like a sponge.

One critical day everything turned upside down.

The builders were busy building our house. I was with them most of the day watching the progress. As the place was dusty and hazardous for mischievous kids, we had sent our kids to my sister’s place to play.

I walked to my neighboring shop to buy some cigarettes. I was lighting one up with the lighter provided by the shop when I heard a squeal of brakes followed by a van’s sliding door opening behind me. I whirled around with the cigarette still dangling from a side of my mouth, to see my brother in law had brought my kids home in his van. My son was watching me with an amused expression on his little face. I was stunned. I was caught red handed.

“You smoke.” He squealed, amused to see the father who gave him a lecture about the hazards only the other day puffing away. I felt like a hypocrite.

“No.” I said, “This is for one of the builders. He can’t come because he’s too busy and I lit it for him to save the trouble of looking for a lighter.”

“Oh!” I saw the relief flooding into his face.”I thought for a moment you smoked.”

“Naah.” I said  walking briskly back home with him trailing behind me, the cigarette now smoldering between my fingers. I walked up to the mason’s assistant who always smoked and gave him the cigarette, saying,

“Here’s your cigarette.”

His was obviously puzzled and I winked hoping desperately he would get the message in time through his thick skull.

I handed him the rest of the cigarettes also.

“Okay sir, thanks a lot.” He said now amused at this sudden windfall. My son watched this exchange wide eyed.

“I thought for a moment you smoked.” He repeated with obvious relief.

“Well, I don’t smoke.” I said which wasn’t a lie as I had quit a moment ago.  And believe me, I never smoked after that moment and it wasn’t an auspicious day like January First either. I simply didn’t want to lie to my son and be a hypocrite.
NOW I'M FREE!


EPILOGUE:
It was six years ago. I still keep that promise and never hope to break it. I feel sorry for the Dudes who still smoke and would never have the break I had. Now I hate the cigarette smoke and the foul breath of a smoker. I almost choke when I’m sharing the same air with a smoker.

THANKS TO MY LITTLE SON.
LOVE FOR YOUR KID CAN DO WONDERS.

Monday, March 5, 2012

38. Close Encounters Of The Cops Kind - Three More Cop Stories: #3. I Just Wanted To Make You Talk

They were the final few days of our December vacation. The traffic lights were suspended overhead on this modernized stretch of Galle road between Kollupitiya (Colombo 3) and Bambalapitiya (Colombo 4). We were driving slowly looking for an address. Suddenly the cop who jumped in front of us blowing his whistle, flagged me down. As I was stepping out of the vehicle with the documents, the typical Sri Lankan way, Deepa said, 

“Henry, please don’t go to argue with him. Let him fine if he wants.” 

This was obviously, because we were supposed to fly back in a few days and we certainly didn’t want tangle with the law.

“Why did you jump the red light?” The cop asked.

“What red light?”

“Uh huh! You didn’t even notice, huh? That red light.” The cop pointed at  the overhead color lights at the pedestrian crossing we just passed when it was green.

“I was watching the light all the way. When I crossed it, it was green. I don’t know it it turned amber when I was right under it.”

“All the other vehicles stopped. You sir, just jumped it.”

“I actually came with several other vehicles when you flagged me down. All of them passed us.”

“NO. All of them had stopped. Only you didn’t and you jumped the red light totally ignoring it.”

“Okay.”

I decided to keep my mouth shut and let it ride.

The cop who checked my documents made so many other remarks but all I did was nodding keeping my mouth zippered shut, which seemed to bug him.  

Why is the world so unfair?  How can an innocent survive in this world?

“This is gonna be a court case, not just a spot fine.”

I immediately opened my mouth, as a court case was the last thing we wanted with only few days to spare.

“Please don’t do that, make it a spot fine if you really must, officer.”

He peered at me under the helmet visor.

“Even we know it’s very inconvenient for everybody just to sue for a minor case like this. I JUST SAID SO JUST TO MAKE YOU TALK. WHY ARE YOU SILENT? You didn’t say anything for some time”

My silence has also bugged him. I had imagined it was the arguments that pissed them off.

“I already have said everything I had to say. Nothing else is there.”

“Where are you from?” He checked the address on my driver’s license.

 “Aha!” He exclaimed triumphantly, “People in this area attacked the police station recently right?  Ha ha ha… Were you also there in the mob, sir?” 

“I read there was an incident like that on the internet. I wasn’t even in the country.”

He wrote out the ticket and detained my driver’s license.

You pay this up to the post office and take the receipt to the police station. If you are too busy to come you can also send it through someone else.”

“Thank you very much. I have no one else to send. Bye”

The next morning we returned to Colombo just to pay the fine for an offense I’m quite positive I didn’t commit. So, the tax was paid at last. You can’t outrun the long arms of the law.