Apka fine Katega, shouted traffic constable.
Kahe Sirji? I asked.
Singal cross Kiya hai, he replied.

I was rushing for my tuition class and, he was standing right next to the Jwalaheri Market crossing. The red lights hardly work, not today.

The constable Gurjeet Singh Ji was adamant about putting a penalty. I was more worried about my father’s reaction aftermath of the challan.

After 15-20 mins of Rona Dhona (crying), we settled for few glasses of nimbu paani and fresh kulcha and 15 uthak-baithak. It was 2007, and pocket money was limited. I had saved some money for McDonald’s trip to Rajouri Garden with friends.

We spoke for good 30 mins over our meal in scorching Delhi summer. Now was the time to make the payment, and Gurjeet took his wallet paid to the street vendor. I was shocked for two reasons. One, police guys eat for free. Two, why on earth is he paying when I was paying for the meal in penalty?

I asked: Sir ye kya, he replied.
Chal bhag le. Dobara na Kare red light jump. Tu bach zaiga, jiske haddi tutege uska soch.

My bias about police constables got cleansed at an early age. I am not saying all are clean, but some are. I am more careful about traffic rules.

I hope wherever Gurjeet is, he is happy, content, and healthy. I visited Paschim Vihar last year. The past suddenly appeared with many other memories. I wonder if I will ever meet Gurjeet and pay for chole kulche and shikanji drink.