The Shadow Lines: Representation of History and Memory
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone, Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown, Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one. These oft quoted…
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone, Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown, Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one. These oft quoted…
Scientists claim that there is no life on the moon. However, Senior Inspector Matadin (the M.D of the Department) says that the scientists lie; there is human habitation on the moon just like here.
Science has always been checkmated by Inspector Matadin. Despite the repeated claims of the fingerprint experts that the fingerprints of the accused does not match the ones that are found on the dagger , Matadin manages to get the accused punished.
Matadin says, “ These scientists do not make a thorough investigation at all. They have only observed the illuminated surface of the moon and have concluded that it is life-less. I have seen the darker surface up there. There are human beings present.”
This is quite right, since Matadin was renowned for his expertise concerning the dark world. Now if you ask why at all Matadin went to the moon? Did he go there as a tourist, or to capture a runaway criminal? No, he went there as a representative of the Government of India on a mission of cultural interaction. The Government of Moon had written to the Government of India, “Our civilization has progressed much. However, our Police is not capable enough. They are not often successful to locate and punish offenders. We have heard that your nation resembles “Ramrajya” or the golden state of Lord Rama. Please send a police officer who may train up our police accordingly.”
The Home Minister said to his secretary, “Send any I.G.”
The secretary replied, “No Sir, we can not send an I.G. It’s a matter of protocol. The moon is a small satellite of ours. We can not send someone of the rank of an I.G. Let us send a senior Inspector.”
It was decided that Senior Inspector Matadin, with his experience of a thousand cases, was to be sent to moon.
A written request was made to the ministry of Moon for spaceship transportation for Matadin’s lunar adventure.
The Minister of police called Matadin, “You are going there as an ambassador of the bright legacy of Indian Police Force. Your endeavours should be so applauded in the entire universe that the P.M (Prime Minister) gets to hear about it.”
The day of Matadin’s departure arrived. A spaceship landed at the space station. After leave-taking Matadin approached the space-craft. He muttered softly “ The journey abroad will success bring, when my heart harbours kosalpur king”*. On reaching the ship, Matadin called his clerk Abdul Gaffur, “Clerk!”
Gaffur knocked his heels and saluted, “Yes, Pectsa!”
“Have you put the F.I.R?”
“And the copy of daily reports?”
He was about to board the ship when he called Balbhadder, the constable, “send your wife to my house to help during jachki.”
Balbhadder replied, ““Yes, Pectsa!”
Gaffur reassured Matadin, “ Don’t worry at all Pectsa! I will send my wife as well for serving your household.”
Matadin asked the pilot, “Do you have a driving license?”
“Are the headlights working?”
Matadin said, “ Everything has to be in order; or I will arrest the rascal in mid-space.”
The pilot of Moon said, “we do not address our fellow human beings like this up there!”
Matadin retorted, “Damn! I know! Your police is very weak. Now, I am going to set them right.”
Hardly had Matadin stepped into the ship when Constable Ramjivan arrived in a great hurry. He said, “ Pectsa, the family of the S.P has asked you to bring pumice stone for pedicure from the moon.”
Matadin was glad to hear, “ Tell Madam that I shall certainly do so.”
He sat into the ship and it took off. the spaceship had just managed to rise above the Earth’s atmosphere when matadin addressed the pilot, “ Hey you! Why aren’t you blowing horn?”
The pilot replied, “There is not a soul for thousands of miles around us.”
Matadin reprimanded, “ But rule is rule. Keep horning!”
Horning along, the pilot finally landed on the moon. The Police official was at the space station to greet Matadin. Matadin pompously descended and glaced at the shoulders of the lunar officers. There were no starred medallions or ribbons. Evidently, Matadin did not feel it necessary to honour them with a salute. Then he thought that, I have come here not as an Inspector, but as an advisor.
The officers took Matadin to the Police quarters and arranged a beautiful bunglow for Matadin’s lodging. After a day of repose Matadin got ready for work. First of all, he inspected the Police quarters.
In the evening, he said to the i.G, “You don’t have any Hanuman temple in your quarters. In our Ramrajya, every police quarter has a Hanumanji.
I.G replied, “ Who was Hanuman? We do not know about him.”
Matadin said, “ It is very necessary for every dutiful policeman to pay homage to Hanuman. Hanuman was a part of special branch in Sugriv’s army. He had found mother Sita. It was a case of abduction, Act 362. Hanuman sentenced raven then and there. Set fire to his property. The police must have this right to capture and punish criminals on spot. No fuss about courtrooms, but this system has not yet been implemented in our Ramrajya. Lord Rama was much elated by Hanuman’s work. He brought him along to Ayoddhya and recruited him on duty. Since then Hanuman has been our Lord Protector. I have brought along his picture. Build sculptures by this and set them up in every police quarter.”
Within a few days, Hanumanji was placed in every lunar police quarter.
Matadin was examining the reasons behind the weakness and carelessness of the police force. They were not concentrating on crimes. He could not detect any reasons. Suddenly, an idea hit him. He asked the clerk, “ Fetch the salary register here.”
Glancing through the register everything was clear to him. He understood the reason. He told the Minister of Police in the evening, “ I have understood why your Police force is not capable enough. You pay them so much. The police. You pay them so much! That’s why the Constable gets five hundred, the sergeant gets seven hundred, the Inspector gets one thousand – is this a joke! After all, why would a policeman capture a criminal? In our world, as the constable gets hundred and the sergeant gets two hundred, so they are on a constant look out for crimes. Reduce their salaries immediately.”
The Minister of Police said, “But that would be unfair. If the salary is low, why would they work efficiently?”
Matadin replied, “There is nothing unfair in this. You will observe how, with the first reduction in salary, there will be a revolutionary change in the attitude of your policemen.”
The Minister of Police reduced the salaries, and within a couple of months there was considerable change indeed! The Police turned more alert. It was awakened from its reverie and became watchful of every place. The world of crime was panic-stricken. The Police Minister summoned the records of all the Police stations. There were more cases registered than before. He said to Matadin, “I appreciate your judgement. You have fired a revolution. But how did this happen?”
Matadin explained, “The matter is very simple. The employee can not meet his expenses if you pay them less. A constable can not raise his children with a hundred rupees. The Inspector can not maintain his social prestige with two hundred. They will have to look for secondary sources of income. And that would only be possible if they could catch the criminals. They will be naturally inclined to do so. They will become alert, dutiful and efficient. This is the secret of the transparency of the administration in our Ramrajya.”
The news spread through the whole of moon land. People flocked to see the man who could increase efficiency by reducing salary! The policemen were also happy. They said, “ Guru, if you had not arrived, we would have been spending our lives solely depending on white salary.”
The Government was happy as well for it was time for analysing profit budget. Half of the problem was solved. The police had started to catch the criminals. Now it was time to reform the procedures of investigation and jurisdiction. How to punish the convict after capturing him? Matadin was waiting for a big case so that he could investigate it as an example.
One day a man was killed in an internecine scuffle. Matadin came to the police station and seated himself, “I will investigate this case to set an example. All of you learn my method. This is a case for murder. In such cases ‘evidence’ should be irrefutable.”
The officer said, “Only after we get hold of the murderer can we hope for collecting evidence.”
Matadin retorted, “No, don’t proceed from opposite direction. First observe the evidence. Did you locate any blood-marks? On anyone’s clothes or anywhere else?”
One Inspector replied, “Yes, the culprit escaped. The victim was lying unconscious on the road. A good-natured man lives there. He took him to the hospital. There is mark of blood on this good man’s clothes.”
Matadin said, “Arrest him immediately.”
The Officer said, “But he only tried to help the dying man.
Matadin said, “All that’s fine. But where else can you hunt for blood marks? Get hold of what evidence you have already located.”
The good man was summoned. He said, “I have only taken the dying man to the hospital. What is my fault?”
The Moon Policemen were affected by his words. But Matadin was not. The whole department was eager to see how Matadin argued his point.
Matadin said to the man, “Why were you at the place of the brawl?”
He answered, “I was not at the place of the fight. My house is right there. The fight took place in front of my house.”
This was another test of Matadin’s talent. The whole department was curious.
Matadin said, “Your house is there, fine. But I am asking you, why did you at all go to the place of fight?”
There was no answer to such an argument. He repeatedly said, “I did not go to the place of quarrel. My house is located right there.”
Atadin repeatedly interrogated, “All right, but why to go to the site of fight?” the policemen were quite influenced by such line of argument.
Now Matadin explained the Case to them:
“You see, a man is killed, so it is definite that someone has murdered him. There is an assassin. Someone has to be punished. The question is, who is to be punished? It is not the question of who should be accused and who can be accused that should be the concern of the policeman. A murder is committed, so a man must be punished. It is not of our concern whether the accused is innocent or guilty. All men are equal. Every man is part of the same Great Divinity. We do not discriminate. This is the Humanism of a Policeman.
The next question is, on whom must the guilt be placed? The following factors may be used as guidelines – (1) Does that man cause any inconvenience to police? (2) Will the higher authorities be pleased if this man is punished?”
Matadin was told that this man is good natured, but protests if any policeman acts unfairly. As far as the higher authorities are concerned, this man is politically opposed to the present Government.
Matadin banged on the table, “Excellent case! Evidence. And the support of the authorities.”
An inspector said, “But we can not simply accept the fact that an innocent should be accused.”
Matadin explained, “See, I have already explained to you that God resides in every man. No matter who is punished, the guilty or the innocent, it is God who will be hanged! You have seen the blood marks on the clothes. Where else would you go seeking for it? You prepare an F.I.R.”
Matadin filed an F.I.R. and left spaces for “future requirements”
The next day the Police officer said, “ Sir, we are in deep troubles. All honest men are coming to ask us why we have trapped the poor innocent man? This never happened before on the moon. Tell us, what are we supposed to answer? We are ashamed indeed.”
Matadin said to the officer, “Don’t worry. A man usually feels ashamed doing these things for the first time. In future, you will be ashamed to free the guilty. There is an answer to everything. Whoever comes to you after this, tell them that we know he is innocent. But we are powerless. Everything is ordered by Higher authorities.”
The officer said, “Then they would approach the S.P”
Matadin said, “Let the S.P say that he is ordered by his superiors.”
“They would complain to the I.G.”
“The I.G will also say that he is ordered by his superiors.”
“They would reach the Minister of Police.”
“The Police Minister will say, ‘What can I do? These are orders from higher officers.”
“Then they would go to the Prime Minister!”
“The Prime Minister would say that he is aware of the man’s innocence. But he is ordered by his superiors.”
“Then they would…”
Matadin said, “Then what? Whom would they go to after that? To God? But no one ever returns from that place!”
The Officer was silenced. He was wonderstruck by this brilliance.
Matadin said, “the one phrase – orders from above- has made the ministry survive for twenty five years in our nation. Learn it.”
The case was under processing. Matadin said, “Now fetch four to six eye-witnesses.”
The officer said, “How can any eye-witness be found? If no one has seen the murder, how can one testify?”
Matadin slapped his forehead, “Among such fools has the Government trapped me! They do not know even the alphabet!
He continued with his reprimand, “Do you know the meaning of eye-witness? Eye-witness is not the one who sees, but the one who says that he has seen.”
The officer said, “Why would anyone say so?”
Matadin said, “He would say, I don’t understand how you run the department. The police always has a list of eye-witnesses ready. They use these as eye-witnesses whenever required. We have such people back home who testify as eye-witness in hundreds of cases a year. Even the Court accepts such man as possessed by divine prowess to have a premonition of crime so that they reach there beforehand. I would prepare eye-witnesses for you. Get hold of some petty thieves, mobsters and hooligans; the drunkards and the gamblers.”
Next day, a few “human-jewels” were present at the police station. Matadin was overjoyed to see them. How much he missed the sight of such men, how lonely he had felt! Matadin’s love overflowed. He said, “ You saw this man hitting with a rod right?”
They said, “No sir. We were not even present there.”
Matadin knew that it was their first opportunity. He repeated, “I accept that you were not there. But you saw him hitting with a rod, right?”
They took him to be a lunatic. Perhaps that’s why he was talking such nonsense. They started to laugh. Matadin said, “Stop laughing, and answer me.”
They said, “if we weren’t there, how could have we seen?”
Matadin rolled his eyes. He said, “How you could see? Let me tell you. We have every record of your misdeeds registered here. Every one of you may be sentenced to ten years of imprisonment. Do you want to continue working like this in the future, or do you prefer the prison-life?”
They were nervous, “Sir, we do not want to be in the prison.”
Matadin said, “Fine. Then you have seen that man hitting the victim. Didn’t you?”
They said, “Yes Sir. That man came out of his house and continued to hit the victim till he fell unconscious on the road.”
Matadin said, “All right, will you see such incidents again in the future?”
They said, “Sir, whatever you would say, we would see.”
The officer suffered a momentary black-out by such a wonder. Coming back to senses he fell flat at Matadin’s feet.
Matadin said, “Move, let me work.”
The officer stuck to Matadin’s feet, saying, “ I would love to be at your feet for the rest of my life.”
Matadin arranged every subsequent procedure. Changing the F.I.R, inserting pages in between, altering daily reports, breaking the witnesses – he taught everything. The man was sentenced with twenty years.
The Moon Police was trained up. Cases were filed and punishment was given instantly. The Moon ministry was very happy. Such efficiency of the police department was the outcome of the cooperation of Indian Government. The Moon Parliament passed a bill to express gratitude.
One day Matadin was given a public felicitation. He was sitting amidst flowers in an open hooded jeep. Thousands of people cheering for him. He was answering them with folded palms like his Home Minister did.
He was doing this for the first time in his life., he was feeling a bit awkward. Who could have thought twenty six years back, when he joined the police force, that he would be honored in such a way in a different world? He was repentant – why hadn’t he brought kurta, dhoti and topi for the occasion!
The Indian Minister of Police was seeing the sight on his television and thinking that a favourable atmosphere was made for his peace-mission.
One day, an emergency meeting was called in the Lunar Parliament. There was a great upheaval. It was a secret mission, so no reports were published, but some words leaked out through the echoing doors.
“Medical aid is denied to sick father.”
“Drowning children are never saved.”
“No one puts out blazing buildings.”
“Man has become worse than beasts. The Ministry must resign immediately.”
The next day, the Prime Minister of Moon summoned Matadin. Matadin found him to have aged a lot. It seemed as if he had not slept for many nights.
The Prime Minister said, “Mr Matadin, we are highly indebted to you and the Government of India. Now, you please return to your country tomorrow.”
Matadin said, “I shall only return on the completion of my term.”
The Prime Minister said, “Please accept the remuneration of the remaining period of your term – take double, triple, and leave.”
Matadin said, “It is my decision. I love work, not money.”
At last, the Prime Minister of Moon sent a secret letter to the Prime Minister of India. Matadin received his order to return from his I.G on the fourth day after this.
He kept the Pumice stone for shining heels, as he promised to the S.P, on the spaceship and bade farewell to Moon.
The policemen broke into tears at his departure.
It was a secret for a long time as to what had happened on the moon that Matadin had to return in such a manner. What had the Prime Minister of Moon written to the Prime Minister of India?
One day the letter was revealed. It was written:
We are very grateful for providing us the service of Inspector Matadin. But please call him back immediately. We have betrayed the innocents. The way in which your Matadin has transformed our Policemen has generated the following consequences:
No one dares to go near a dying man, lest he should be accused of committing murder. A son does not treat his ailing father. He is afraid that, in case the father dies, he would be found guilty of patricide. The houses keep on burning but no one comes to rescue lest he be accused of having set the house on fire. Children drown in the river and no one saves them. They fear being accused of drowning children. Every human relationship has ceased to exist. Matadin has ruined half of our culture. If he stays back, then we will lose the other half as well. Please call him back to Ramrajya.
*Translated from Hindi by Monami Mukherjee. (more…)
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