All cops are not necessarily corrupt. Some, like yours truly, are more or less honest. You know, the sort who doesn't say ‘No, no!’ to a ‘let’s-round-it-off-to-the-next-digit’ offer, but isn’t an out-and-out rogue either.
So there I was, having accepted those half-a-dozen ‘50% off' coupons from a branded shoe company.
Straightaway, my wife bought four pairs of shoes, two of them being brown Oxfords that could double as part of my uniform. One brown pair was duly packed off for posterity — and forgotten about. It was only after a couple of years that I realised that the boots proved to be a little too big for me.
Which is when the inevitable happened.
We were waiting in attendance for the minister who was on her first visit to the district. Suddenly, I felt uncomfortable.
I proceeded to reassure myself, saying that while being driven in the car from home, I didn’t have this kind of feeling. I tried standing ‘straighter’, but nothing improved. I felt the ground slipping away. In the scorching heat of a north India summer, I sweated profusely with my adrenaline levels jumping.
With trepidation, I tried to lean on the wall but slithered, all the while smiling in a sort of steely way, lest anyone found me to be the ‘soft policeman’ on duty, a traitor to his uniformed tribe.
And exactly at the moment I felt I was floating, the minister arrived. Everyone gathered around her with bouquets and garlands.
I tried towing along and did make it to her car, even giving her a perfect salute — my hands still not knowing what was happening to the rest of my body. But the ‘sinking’ continued, strangely accompanied by an attack of vertigo. I looked back to check the distance from where I stood to where my car was.
That’s when I saw a trail of polyester and plastic grains on the red carpet that had been laid out for the VIP. The trail had led to my feet and was traced to my boots.
Oh dear. Finally, I figured what was happening. The sole of my shoes being synthetic — and not used for a long time — had dissolved and disintegrated bit by bit.
Excusing myself from the well-heeled and well-shod, I rushed to my car with a perfectly synthetic smile that was caught on camera as I made my way back home. Next day when I saw my photograph in the newspapers, I promised myself: never again would I succumb to temptation and accept any dodgy coupons.
(Rajbir Deswal is an IPS officer. The views expressed by the author are personal)