It was a lazy Sunday for Subhash who got up late in the morning after Vaishali’s constant nagging to get up. He opened the main door to pick up the newspaper lying there.
As he started reading the headlines, one got his attention. The headline “Man killed in preventing robbery” caught his attention. He feared if what he was thinking was true. His wife Vaishali sat beside him with the tray carrying cup of tea for both of them.
Seeing his colorless face, she asked “what happened? why do you look so pale, has something bad taken place?”.
Keeping his newspaper aside he took a sip from his tea. He did not know how to begin, but he had to tell her. “You know last night Mrs Motwani’s chain was robbed by two thugs on a bike” “You are talking about that thick, long gold chain that she keeps wearing all the time”. She asked “yes that was it” he replied. “How did you come to know about that?” She enquired.
“I happened to meet her while coming home and it took place right after I left her” “Did something else happen too? You look worried”, she said wondering what was troubling him.
“A man got killed it’s in the papers” he said showing her the newsprint. She took the paper in her hands and started reading it. After a few minutes, she pulled her head out of papers and said “it says that the woman who was robbed ran away and there was no witness who was coming forward to report the same” “Yes, as the man got stabbed, she ran away in an auto” he said. “How can someone be so insensitive? The least she could do was to help him; after all he was trying to help her”. She said getting enraged. “Did you do try to save him?” expecting him to reply.
“I could not, by the time I reached near his body, crowd had gathered and he was already dead. No was willing to take him to a hospital or else he could have been saved” he replied somewhat dishearten.
“These are bad times we are living in today; nobody comes forward to help others due to fear of legal hassles. Nobody does anything unless it happens to them” she said sadly. The reaction was expected from her as being a social activist, seeing people’s apathy infuriated her to no end.
The phone began ringing when Subhash was taking a short nap in the afternoon. After picking up the receiver, Subhash kept listening and said yes. He soon kept it down and made another call. He asked the caller to call out Vaishali and had exchanged a few words with her. She was away at a neighbor’s house where all the ladies of the building had gathered for a get-together. Soon after, Vaishali was back at home.
“What happened, I was having such a good time”. She said keep her head on his shoulder. “I got a call from the police station” he said to her. “They have told me to come down there for an inquiry regarding the incident”. “How did they come to know you were there?” she asked shockingly.
“I don’t know about that, will come to know once I go there”. “Can I also come with you?” she asked? “No, I’ll manage it, I might come late don’t know how long this would take”.
The police station was a stone throw away from Subhash house. As he entered the police station, he could sense a strange kind of silence in there, which made him wary.
He was told to wait till the sub-inspector comes in. The sub-inspector came in after some time. He asked the constable who gave him a file for approval. “Saheb, we had him called for inquiry in the M.G. road robbery case” pointing his hand towards Subhash. “Okay” came the reply.
“I am sub-inspector Omkar Patil” he said moving his hand forward, Subhash reciprocated his gesture. “We came to know that you were present when the victim Rajiv Sharma got killed while preventing the robbery on Saturday evening on M.G. road” he said looking straight into his eyes.
“Yes I was there” Subhash said not knowing what to expect. “Here is the visiting card that we found on the scene of crime”. He took the card from the sub-inspector’s hand and then realized it was the same card that he had given to Mrs. Motwani.
“Are the robbers caught?” he asked as curiosity got to him. Omkar gave him a glance and said “they will be if people come forward and let us know who they were and how they look”.
“Anyways, you tell me in detail what you saw that evening”. Subhash told everything he knew. “Can you tell me something about how they look?” He remembered the face of the person riding the bike as he had wore a headband and told the police about the same.
“That’s great”. Omkar said with a smile. “We will call you again and have a sketch drawn with the help of our artist and if need be we will also call you up to identify the accused”. Subhash was okay with that as he felt he should be fulfilling his social obligation. “Also if we do catch him, you will have to testify in the court as you are the sole witness in the case” said Omkar who kept staring at him, expecting a reply from him.
Lone witness!!! Subhash had found himself caught off-guard when he heard about that. “Sole witness, there were so many people there, did no one came forward?” he asked.
“Nobody likes to be involved in these things, as they think the system would make their life miserable. They turn a blind eye to incidents like these and then if the police are not able to find the accused they blame it on our sluggishness”.
“If people like you come forward to help us catch the thugs, we would more than happy to see them behind the bars” said the sub-inspector who seemed to be venting out his ire on public’s apathy. Subhash understood his plight and then made his way back home.
“How did everything go?” Vaishali asked him as she gave him a glass of water. “It was okay, I might be called again to draw a sketch of the robbers and probably to identify him” he said.
It turned out to be a quiet a day for Subhash who switched on the television to divert his attention. The news channel flashed the news how a man who tried to save a women got killed in the process of preventing it.
It caught his attention and he increased the volume to listen. The image on the screen moved in to show the crying wife of Rajiv Sharma who was inconsolable. The reporter told how the family that includes his wife and six-month old baby and an old mother to look after lost their only bread winner of the family. A tragedy had taken place and it would take time to overcome it. They don’t know what the future hold for them?
The public’s apathy was very discomforting as hardly anyone came forward to provide information about the incident. The lady whom the victim was trying to save from getting robbed is refusing to say anything on it and has not filed any complaint.
Tells a lot about the kind of society we live in today. A society without conscience. That was the parting shot of the reporter.
The whole incident had left Subhash shaken.
Here was a man who was trying to do something right, and here we are trying to disassociate ourselves from being a part of it. Was this a wake-up call, to fulfill our duties as a humanitarian and listen to our inner voice? Only time will tell, as he penned these thoughts in his dairy and switched the lights off.