Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A way to be good again

A 29-year old unemployed graduate broke my office’s door and stole some equipment. Next morning, my office management sent me to the City Police Station, Thimphu to file the complaint. It was in the first week of last February. I will confess that…it was also in the same week my girlfriend left me for another man. The same week, BHSEC (Class XII) result was declared and my two sisters disappointed me with their results. Also, it was the week my otherwise beautiful term with my parents ruined irreparably. It was, de facto, an endless panorama of blue, a totality of flux; in short, life-menacing crises.
This was for the first time I was visiting the Crime Station and also first time lodging a complaint. Registering the complaint took me almost an hour as I was required to give detailed evidence with substantial justifications. After the investigation, the accused [I use the word “accused” for the lack of better word] was arrested.

It was mid-afternoon when OC summoned me to the Police Station for the written statement. I reached the station in a while and the OC declared killer message, “This case is burglary. He broke the door, entered the office without permission and took some equipment. And…as per the nature of the crime committed, he has to serve six years in jail.”

The accused was stabbed on hearing this ruling. He started shivering frenziedly as if he was undergoing detoxification. Reddish from tan, the expression on his face transformed instantaneously. Then, he pleaded the OC, requesting not to imprison him.

Whatsoever, the OC made a detention order. As he was dragged to the detention cell, a strange sensation ran over my mind. I felt sad suddenly, horribly.

I raced back home, but my mind in turmoil and as guilt as murdering him. Hodgepodge of images buzzed in my mind: the accused serving six years in jail; young and ambitious, meaning he has half of his life to live. Perhaps six-year of imprisonment may ruin his hope or essence of life altogether. I spent all night suffocated with unerasable guilt and remorse. This is the time when I was fuelled by an insurmountable desire to help him, and I unconditionally promised to work for him.

Next morning, I marched back to the Police Station and inquired about the withdrawal of the case. The OC explained me that the case can be withdrawn if the complainant wishes to do so. “But the accused has to sign Undertaking Letter. It is the good behavior undertaking where the accused must assure that he will improve in future,” added the OC.

I wanted to save the accused from six years of wasteful imprisonment and brutal tortures. I wanted to give him a second chance, making him realized his mistake, and improve his behavior and support his family. I wanted to give him this sacred opportunity to live a normal life-a clean and better.

Though he had remotest chance, next day, I made an appointment with a team of policemen to escort him to my office to appeal the management for the case withdrawal. However, they blatantly denied him of his appeal, aborted him of his second chance. But the accused didn’t give up; he did everything in his power to save himself.

Finally, rather empathetically, knees on the floor, he pleaded as tears bursting from his eyes, “Please Dasho, Sirs and Madams! You can do anything to me…Beat me! Kick me! Say anything to me. But don’t send me to jail,” he choked and wailed like an infant lost in the crowded street. He was denied, though!

In a corner, I stood frozen, paralyzed with helplessness and terrible agony. His last chance has been flabbergasted. In grotesque disconcertment, he too remained speechless as he was being again dragged back to the jail.

That night I stayed worried, my heart heavy with guilt and remorse. I felt that whatever I did, though for my office, was morally wrong and inhumane. The tragic event of the day plagued my mind in marauding waves. Hardest of all, my mind never strayed from it. 

He broke the door and took few things from the office…and he had to serve six years. But there are scores of Bhutanese, especially rich and high-level bureaucrats who have siphoned millions of public money, yet no law can punish them. This is unjust, miscarriage of justice, I reasoned.

In the fourth day proceeding of the case, I decided to resign from my job. The mental burden was intolerable. My life appeared like a string of accidents, one suffering begetting another. More importantly, I didn’t want to see the accused in the jail for a petty crime. And…at least I didn’t want to represent the management to send him behind the bar. This is most unbearable of all, and something I thought I would never tolerate.

However, for the last time on behalf of the accused I appealed to the management for withdrawal of the case. I affirmed them I would take all risk to sign on the Undertaking Letter. Darn! The management sounded more annoyed than concerned.

The accused had already spent five days and five nights in the detention cell. On sixth day’s afternoon, I drafted my resignation letter, and went to the office of my boss. As soon as I entered the office, my boss announced unexpected news, “Ultimately, the management had decided to withdraw the case. But you have to take the risk to sign on the Undertaking Letter.”

In extreme joy, I ran towards the Police Station carrying this good news to the accused like a Primary student carrying his “Passed” Progress Report to show it to his parent after the result day. Oh God, instantly I forgot that I was rejected by my girlfriend and that I had fought with my parents.

My happiness was more than winning Gold Medal in Olympic. I saw everything perfect in front of my eyes. He will be given a chance to start a new life, I smiled. Tears welled up in my eyes and rolled down as I ran down carrying the news. It was only when I reached the Police Station that I became aware that I was crying.

I informed the OC regarding withdrawal of the case. After 10 minutes, the uniformed men dragged in the accused. In a wild and triumphant excitement, I exclaimed at him the good news.

But he looked grotesquely nervous and stood in horror and shock, starkly uninterested in the news I carried to him. When his eyes met mine, the stare was cold and unwavering, not friendly and spoke of resignation and hopelessness, portraying profoundly mournful state.
Alas! My hope of making him a good man flickered. He looked exceedingly disastrous and his eyes turned white. He appeared like a murderer, his skin distorted into pale, ghostly. I realized that the accusation and punishment upon him was so absurd. It made him a monster.

I signed on the Undertaking Letter of good behavior. I assured the OC that he will improve his behavior. They unlocked the handcuff.

After undertaking, I took him in a restaurant nearby. It took him a dozen of minutes to accustom to outside world as he walked zigzagging all directions. I treated him with chicken rice. In the beginning, only with difficulty did he open his mouth for food. Staying mute, he graciously ate chicken indicating his sharpness of hunger. Slowly he started talking. He told me about his home, family, address and education. He confessed that he has no one to stay in Thimphu and has been jobless for four years. But as we talked on, I could feel his strength and joy increased by hour.

As we moved out, I gave him Nu 1000 as "pocket money". A glow of joy shone on his face. He smiled and gave me thanks. I encouraged him to be a better person in life and wished him good luck in his new life.
We departed. The setting sun was feverishly beautiful as he set out walking faster like a freed bird. He turned back for the last time, and I got a smile from him as a reward. The wind tossed his hair as he rejuvenated into new self. There’s no ounce of suspicion on his face that he will be jailed again. I could make out only realization and happiness dawned upon him, showing me a rich promise.

I realized, then, in whatever condition I may be, though worst wretchedness, I can still be of help to other. As I worked hard to unleash him, he too brought me a great measure of comfort, giving me confidence and courage to stand firm in destitute.

Note: That evening I consulted my counselor friends who kindly consented to give him counseling and help him in writing job application. I also made an appointment with his sister (civil servant), talked regarding his problems and convinced her to keep him along with her, give him support and protection until he gets a job. This has irrevocably bound us together. Today, he got a job in one of the IT Institutes in Thimphu as an instructor. He calls me at least once a week and updates what he is up to.

11 comments:

  1. wonderful....simply wonderful.....:)

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  2. That is so touching, you can be really proud of what you have done...I am too

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  3. Simply amazing, Rikku. I can feel a heart of gold beating in you. I am impressed. Keep going.

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  4. An act of SAMARITAN.
    I loved the way you tackled the problem with the "accused". But, i was wondering what went wrong to a person who possess compassionate mind? Later,running through the comments,
    Looks like your girl had a problem with you as a philanthropist. If I were your girl, i would have supported you being philanthropist, rather than wanting you to think about me always. But, this is not a problem with your girl, after all she also needs some one who thinks more of her.
    PROBLEM OF HUMAN BEING.....
    Continue being what you are.

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  5. GREAT bro...im loving it.....

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  6. Rikku,
    Hope all your Feb problems are gone now.
    What you have done for the man makes you a true Bhutanese! I have personally faced two such cases where I had to beg Police to forgive and free the men who tried to cause harm on my wellbeing. Because I can never be happy knowing I could have made the difference, but let go!
    YOu have a beautiful soul!

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  7. Wow Sir, you are my idol. You don't work just because it is a job. You are there sensing good or bad, which sadly most of the people in and around our society has failed. Cheers to you sir....

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  8. Wow....People like you makes the world better place.You definitely are a great role model Rikku .Cheers to you....

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  9. hey this one really touching. i'm really happy for the man and proud of you.

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