Yesterday night, I was wandering in a high flying area of Central Delhi trying to locate a shop. Though I am quite tall, the high-rise buildings made me look life a dwarf. It was a residential area where I was moving around.
At one place, I found water coming down from a building. Perhaps an overhead tank at the rooftop was overflowing. I stopped and waited for someone to stop this flow of water. But soon, I knew I had to do it myself. It is my habit to close every road side water tap which is flowing unnecessarily. I do it even if it means getting out of my scooter or car. I know some people consider me a quirk.
I am equally disturbed when I find street lights switched on all day. I take it as my duty to switch off each of them. I am not ashamed to admit that I am laughed at by some of my neighbours for that. I have decided to offer myself as an example which they may emulate. When some people laugh at me surreptitiously I pray to God to forgive them because they don't know what they are doing!
Well, when the water didn't stop, I got off my scooter, went to the elevator in the building, entered it and pushed button for the top floor. While the lift was perhaps halfway on its journey to the top floor, it stopped and there was complete darkness! My mayday calls didn't seem to bring any help. As the law of relativity states, those ten minutes appeared to me like ten hours! When power was thankfully restored and the lift moved again, I stepped out of it on the very next halt. In that frenzy, I had suddenly forgotten where I was and why ? May be those ten minutes of asphyxiation did some irreparable damage to some of my grey cells. Walking completely disoriented like a madman, I took another lift from that floor so that I could come down and when it finally stopped, I found myself on a railway platform! Perhaps a metro station!
I was still asking myself what I was doing there. Two trains came and left at short intervals. Many people boarded the trains and many disembarked. I decided to leave the place and then, someone in the uniform asked for my ticket, I was aghast and under frenzy for I had no ticket. I told him that I had not disembarked from any train. The rest of the conversation went on like this :
"What brings you here ?"
"Really, I don't know."
"What do you mean by I don't know?"
"In fact, I had come here to switch off the water lifting pump!" (In that emergency, my memory was coming back!)
"What are you talking about? Which pump ? Why would you switch off the pump here ?"
"No, I mean, the water was everywhere on the road so I decided...."
"Which road ?"
"Sorry, I don't know."
By this time, the uniformed man was looking at me curiously, perhaps trying to decide whom to call -- police or a psychiatrist or both.
"Sir, I had come here by scooter. Here are the keys."
Looking at the key ring, I suddenly remembered that these were not my keys. I had borrowed scooter from a friend. The person in uniform took the keys from me but kept looking at me with suspicion.
"Where is the scooter?"
"I don't know. I can't tell the exact place where I had left it.
"Tell me the registration number." He commanded.
"I don't know !" How could I remember registration number of my friend's scooter!
The fierce look on his face was terrifying.
Sir, please believe me. I have got my PAN card also. Here it is." He took the card from me. But he continued to stare me with stern eyes !
"Sir, I happen to have my Passport also. You can see it."
He took the passport, gave a careless glance over it. Again the stare !
"Why don't you believe me, Sir ?"
"Give me one reason why I should. "
"Sir, I had come here merely to switch off the water pump."
"Don't try to fool me. Why won't you know where you had parked the scooter?"
"Believe me, Sir", "I had parked it on a road to enter a multi-storeyed building to get an elevator to reach to the top floor to switch off the water pump !"
He was about to blast with anger now.
"What was the name of the building ?"
"I don't know !"
"Let me call the police. I shouldn't waste my time any more."
"No ! Please don't do it to me. I am a respectable person. I don't need any police."
"Okay, okay ! How come you don't know your scooter's number?
"The scooter is not mine. A friend had lent it to me." Suddenly, my face brightened with hope. "Let me talk to my friend." I took the mobile from the pocket but its battery had run down.
"The battery is finished. I can't call him."
"I knew it already ! Okay, you can call from public phone. What is his number?"
"I don't know. It is in the phone book. But the battery is down." I was close to tears now.
"May I see your mobile ?" I handed over the mobile to him looking at him helplessly.
"Okay, wait for me here. Don't try to escape. I will be here in a minute." And he was gone.
I waited for a few minutes but couldn't see him again. I started wondering if he was really an officer or just a crook ! Suddenly, I realized that I had given to him my keys, PAN Card, passport and even the mobile ! I didn't know where the scooter was, I was not sure if I could even identify my friend's scooter. I didn't know which building I had entered, which lift I had taken, how I had suddenly come to the railway platform. I had never been in such a panic in all my life before.
Suddenly, a female voice called "Someone has come to meet you."
The voice seemed familiar. With revived hope, I turned and with a loud thump, I fell on the floor. It was my bedroom and my wife was looking at me incradulously.
"What is the matter? How you fell down from the bed?
Still half awake, I pressed my head where it was aching. I said worriedly, "He has taken everything - my PAN card, my passport, keys of the scooter, my mobile !"
"Who has taken everything? Were you dreaming of something?
"May be you are right." Even though there was some swelling on the back of my head, I was happy that all my belongings were with me only. Moreover, I didn't need to find my way back home.
जाने कैसा ख़ालीपन है ख़ानदानों में - ग़ज़ल भागते फिरते हैं वो सुंदर मकानों में ठग कहीं टिकते नहीं अपने बयानों में शादियों में नोंचते हैं फूल अलबत्ता प्यार की भी कुछ तड़प होगी सयानों में नम्र लह...
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