Kadir (alias Kadirvel Kuppuswamy) was almost falling asleep; he was in his office, a police station. He was the Sub Inspector; Given that that the Inspector of the station, Kannan, was under suspension for a month, until an enquiry against the inspector was complete, made Kadir the lord of that police station. Kadir appeared as if he had no opinion on the case against his former boss; if he had he held it within himself and nicely disguised it. Kadir, in fact, was very happy where he was in the hierarchy, until his inspector got suspended; he just had to do things that were told to him, did not have to take decisions, leave his work at 6PM, go home to his loving wife, Thamarai and more lovely 8yr old daughter, Aruna. He had no ambitions and was very content with what he was doing; the police uniform gave him some respectability and Kadir also ensure that he stayed clear of visibility and also trouble. The town’s setting was perfect for him – a very small town – Ootangarai – it was a non-decrepit town with one main-street running through it with shops and a few hundred houses on either side of the main road. It was, essentially, a bigger village trying to be a town. The primary profession of the town being farming and the Brick kilns; the bricks produced in this town were sent to nearby bigger towns of Krishnagiri and Thiruvannamalai and then out. The word out on the streets was that his inspector did not want to get into pay-in along with his Deputy Superintendent of Police of that district with the local rowdy-sheeter, “Sengal” Maran, who ran a small illegal operation in transporting of the bricks, which gave a neat profit for him and to the DSP and the inspector before Kannan came to the station. Kannan was young and an idealist – Kadir found Kannan to be a new kind of police man that he had not come across in his 11 year old policing career; he came to respect Kannan for his stand and began to help him out, in his own subtle, but none-too-obvious ways. Kadir’s world came tumbling down, when Kannan was suspended for a month on some trumped up charges; Kadir’s disappointment did not stem completely from Kannan’s suspension; he regretted a bit that Kannan was not successful; but he was more apprehensive that he was in the driver’s seat and will need to take decisions when need arises.
Today afternoon was trifling hot; drowsy and the summer air was dry and stifling; the ceiling fan made more noise than it was circulating air. He had returned about half-hour ago after a good lunch at home; as usual Thamarai’s had made tasty lunch. It has been nearly 15 days since Kannan’s suspension and Kadir had gotten away without having to do anything major; he was just counting days – may be he would take a week of sick leave. With nothing happening, Kadir was almost falling asleep; when the jarring telephone ring woke him up. It was the DSP on the other side…
“Ennaya Kadir, Thoongi-ittu irrukiya” (what man, Kadir, you sleeping ?)
“No sir, Yes Sir, Good after noon sir”, said Kadir, getting up from his seat and trying to get it right.
“How are things? No problems at the brick factories ?”
“No sir, everything is fine”
DSP continued, “Looks like that Maran fellow is creating some problems, one of his fellows would come and meet you, talk to him”. Kadir could not fathom what kind of trouble Maran was creating – not sure if it was real trouble for the town or trouble for DSP.
Kadir started, “Yes Sir…”, and realized DSP had already finished the conversation and had disconnected the phone.
Kadir had exactly dreaded this situation. The DSP has put him in a quandary, he was sure; the same kind that sent Kannan packing home, He wished he had listened to Thamarai and had gone visiting his in-laws in
Kumaran left and in the nutshell, the important matter he wanted to discuss was that Kadir get into the pay-off with Maran. Without Kadir’s in the chain, things will not work as smoothly as it could, since some locals may actually file a complaint. Kadir can make a neat packet over his monthly salary and be happy; Kumaran concluded, “inspector-saar” – Kadir was about to correct him that he was Sub-inspector, but let it pass, “everyone is happy, including the DSP; after this Kannan will not be in this station and you actually become the big man of this town; but if you refuse, saar, why saar simply bring about problems for everyone; including yourself”. His innuendo and implied threat was unmistakable; Kadir did not react. Kumaran smiled at him one last time and left.
In what looked anything but coincidence, Kadir saw Kumaran in his street in the evening when he was reaching home – Kumaran had flashed his sinister smile at Kannan. Late that night, Kadir was still thoughtful about what had happened that day; he had absent mindedly gone through his dinner, pensive. Post dinner, he stepped out of his house into the small garden for a smoke (after a long time), sitting in a cement slab, lost in his thoughts.
Suddenly he felt his daughter Aruna, tugging at his hand. She had tears in her eyes; behind her was Tamarai, smiling proudly.
“Appa, I did something bad today”
Kadir stayed quiet, but gently pulled his daughter to sit next to him in the slab.
“Appa, in school today, when my class-mate, Latha was away, I had taken away her pencil and scale, appa, Without her knowledge, appa; and brought it home”
Kadir continued to look at her.
“Appa, amma told it was a wrong to steal somebody else’s things. I am very sorry appa. I will give back the scale and pencil back to Latha and give my ‘sorry’ letter to teacher. I will not do this again, appa. I'm very sorry...”, she trailed off, looking at Kadir, with frightened eyes...
Kadir was overwhelmed at his daughter’s talk and tears. At that moment, his adoration and love for his daughter grew, as he gathered her in his arms and hugged her tightly, reassuring her…
…and instantly, he knew what his answer to Kumaran and Sengal Maran will be.
The next day at the station, Kadir called Kumaran and got into Sengal Maran's pay-off along with his DSP. He loved his daughter too much to see any harm come her way.