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.”
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.