After getting rave reviews from friends and family, about the Indian movie called ‘Newton‘ being nominated for the Oscars, I along with my folks headed to watch the acclaimed film.
While getting back after the show, and appreciating the wonderfully woven movie around the election drama, security forces in a a tribal area affected by the Maoists and the lead playing Newton, I was caught unawarr that I would be in a similar situation that the central protagonist enacted while driving back home.
As luck would have it, like Newton, I was faced with the dilemma of standing alone against the system, I soon realized that it is not easy to break the set societal norms where corruption rules and where bribing your way out is the only means that can bail out the common man.
Where we agree with our elected representatives, as if they are dictators and we mere scapegoats to be slaughtered .
Few days back, one of our honorable ministers in power announced the hike in petrol and diesel prices, giving a weird reason , that if we can afford two or four wheelers , so we can pay for rising fuel prices every now and then, and so we should not make ‘hue and cry’ about the ever- rising prices, which unfortunately takes place, every fortnight.
Newton’ the protagonist in the movie, despite of facing stiff resistance from colleagues and co workers, for his self-righteous attitude , does not give up his forthright ways.
Taking inspiration from the movie, I too decided not to budge from my stance, when I was caught at the traffic light signal at the T-junction, located between the Jesus and Mary Convent and the Maitreyi college, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi.
While waiting for the green signal, I realized that before I could move at green light, it had already turned orange and after a moment, as I turned left, the red (stop) light appeared that had offended many commuters behind me, as it was a clear situation of ‘touch and ‘go’ for many. But the ones like me, those who had turned at orange were caught by traffic guys. Who were eagerly waiting to pounce on us like hungry predators in search of preys . And here were we , caught in their trap.
But like Newton, a new awakening was reckoning me, I decided to confront these guys, for their unruly behaviour and putting fine on the innocents like me.
Just when I decided to take up the cause against the wrong doing , a lady behind my car, caught in the same trap, tried to pacify me , by saying , that ‘Ma’am this is India, full of flaws and inadequacies, where biased approach comes due lack of governance, but it is us who have blindly followed and mindlessly elected them, so we have to bear the brunt now.
Where criticism of motherland is a usual crib. I should thank my lucky stars ‘ , as the traffic cops were just charging me hundred bucks and not impounding or confiscating ,my licence or car.
Otherwise my licence would have been cancelled for three months.
I was in a state of shock , I could not take the chance of losing my licence ,as a daily commuter by car, one cannot take the risk of losing his or her vehicle or licence.
I was rather making a mockery of myself ,by playing a responsible citizen and asking for my basic rights.
But, trust me, this was something new for me, as I was struck in such a mess for the first time.
I had acquired my licence with genuine procedures and means, never been caught on the wrong side of the road, always followed the motto ‘speed thrills but it kills’ diligently, never ever overtaken from the wrong side, never used high beam in the night or unnecessary honking in the day, always used the seatbelt while driving ,along with my original insurance papers, pollution check and driving licence, ready in the dashboard of the car.
The lessons learnt in the childhood about the traffic lights, were something I still remembered crystal clear, where Red light meant Stop, Yellow meant to ‘go slow ‘and Green meant to ‘go’.
But, I was never taught, that even if ,one goes by the rule book , he will be paying bribe for being honest or sincere enough to stop and act as a law abiding citizen.
Despite of knowing that many drivers just ignored them and moved on, as they were accustomed to such occult happenings, but me being an amateur ,parked my car at the left side , when two hefty traffic guys waved at me.
But now, here was I, struck to my sincerity.
Those conditioned to such occurrences, just drove past me, as I continued to pursue my case of being correct, despite of being dissuaded and being the ‘odd one out’.
After all, I had not violated any traffic rules or laws , but like ‘Newton’, I too appeared like an anomaly, who was in conflict with the powerful and greedy.
I too, was disillusioned but yet determined, not to give up in front of the manipulative.
I could not backtrack now, though the opposing forces tried to dissuade me in every possible way from requesting, to intimidating, to threatening me.
I felt, as if, I was acting as an agent of change, the revolutionary like the character of ‘Newton’ fighting against the Government machinery.
At that moment ,I felt, that these small fights would make a big difference, by contributing in smaller ways and by raising my voice against the wrong doers.
While amidst all these mixed emotions, along with moments of mayhem and enlightenment , my phone rang.
It was my best friend on the other end, to whom I narrated the whole incident and my stand to support myself , even if it meant to be a lone warrior.
It was then , ostensible truth and a more saddening realization dawned on me .
That honesty is no more the best policy , but a mere plaque.
My dear friend advised me to pay the ‘challan’ , as I was lucky that my licence was not being revoked and they were just asking for a petty sum. Rather I should thank them for their kind gesture and generosity of asking for less.
And by resisting them, I was making a fool out of myself and was acting more like a joker in the middle of the road, amongst the public .
So, here was I , giving challan money for being right, for turning on the orange light and my challan claiming and clearly stating in print , for me being driving without the seat belt.
Yes , this was my day of Newton. Where I simplified the complexities of the system by giving bribe and not offending the ones asking for it.
Anjali, with a masters in English is a teacher on a sabbatical, loves travelling and spending time in the lap of nature, observing its bounties and being thankful to the hills.
My dear daughter, I know you paid the unethical salary of the Delhi traffic police because you were in hurry to pick up your small daughter from school, otherwise you would have not done.