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INSPECTOR JHIMLI

‘You are under arrest!’ said inspector Jhimli.

‘Sorry Madam, let me go madam’ begged the goons, frightened at her sight.

‘Inspector Jhimli doesn’t let go!’ echoed a deep voice.

She was the bravest, smartest, most intelligent and fiercest of all police officers in Kolkata. Protector of
innocent civilians and the deadliest fear of all anti-socials.

Today, like always, she was successful in catching a bunch of goons. Inspector Jhimli never missed her
targets. As she pulled the goons one by one to put them in the van, the surrounding civilians were
clapping and were in praises for her! But, it didn’t affect inspector Jhimli, she did not get carried away…
She was on duty, and this was her job! She was about to lock the van when someone shouted

“Ei Jhimli! Uthe por…wake up Jhimli!”

Who is that? Thought Jhimli, when something pulled her… and everything went blur

“Get up! You’ll be late for school; I have to go to work!”

“Ma....” complained a sleepy eyed Jhimli “was seeing such a beautiful dream!”

“Stop talking rubbish! There is no time for all this” shouted her mom.

Jhimli lived in a shanty near park circus area. She lived with her mother, who was a maid servant in the
nearby area. Jhimli hated her school but her mother had warned that if she missed school, her mother
would leave her and go. Jhimli missed her father. She was the apple of his eyes. Her father died in a rail
accident. They couldn’t even take him to the hospital. It was good in a way that he passed away
immediately; they did not have enough money for a hospital. If her baba was alive then he would have
loved Jhimli and allowed her to do what she liked.

“Jhimli… Toiri ho… Taratari….” yelled her mother. The decibel level was the alarming one; Jhimli knew too
well that the next instruction won’t be verbal. She got bathed, got ready for school, had muri for
breakfast and holding her mother’s hand started towards school.

“Pay attention to what the teacher says!” Jhimli’s mother said “Kamala was saying her daughter has
already started earning and here you are, always bringing complains from the teacher!”

“I don’t like the teacher… He instructs us to do things which baba always told not to do! Can’t I go to
some other school?” begged Jhimli knowing very well what her mother’s answer would be.

Jhimli’s mother dropped her at her school without any other word. She too didn’t want this school for
her only daughter, but life had been too cruel and a very practical teacher. Silently Jhimli walked in.. The
worst four hours of her was about to begin.. From inside the croaking of the teacher came...
“Aj amra pocketmari sikhbo!” the teacher stopped as Jhimli entered. “Late! You are again late Jhimli! You
will not achieve anything in life! No dedication! Don’t I always tell you what Swamiji had said, “Faki diye
mohot karjo hoy na!” If you are not serious you’ll be a useless burden! You get that? Why are you staring
like a retard? Get in and take your seat!”

A tear rolled down Jhimli’s cheek. ‘I want to be an inspector not a pick pocket!’ She said to herself but
silently nodded her head and entered the class. Thus began the worst 4 hours of her day. She was lost in
her daydreams where Inspector Jhimli was in action, when her classmate Tuli pushed her from behind
saying, “Sir dakchen!”

Not knowing why she was being called, Jhimli sheepishly walked up to her teacher. The teacher looked at
her with a hopeless gaze and asked, “So what would you do?”

‘Sir..’ asked a blanked Jhimli

“Idiot… Asto gobet ekta! What am I going to do with this girl? Jhimli madam, today if you remember is
Friday. 5 lessons were taught throughout the week. Which one would you perform for your class
assessment! Do you remember the lessons? What do you do the entire day? Lost in some wonderland!
Kissu hobe na Jibone!” he den looked across the class and continued “Who shall say.. mm… yes Minu!
Minu… name the lessons we’ve done this week.”

“Agge Sir, sombare..” Minu began answering when her sir cut in, “Answer in English!”

“yes sir.. Monday we learned begging, Tuesday theft, Wednesday snatching Thursday shop lifting and
today pick poteking” Minu said all in a breath.

“Not pick poteking, it’s pick pocketing!” snapped her teacher and pulled Jhimli’s ears and said,
“Dhukeche kane? Did it enter your ears? Now will you forget again??? So which one are you going to do
or do you plan to repeat the lessons again? The kids who started with you are already in field and here
you are.. Good for nothing! At least say something!!!”

“Sir.. I… I…” started Jhimli.

Soon there was a chaos outside the class. This is nothing unusual. The area of park Circus always has
some or the other incident. A place where chaos is normal, a day without chaos would be something
weird. Suddenly there was a noise of police siren. It was difficult for the kids to know whether the siren
was real or was it part of the class. They were instructed to run as soon as there was noise of a siren and
to slip away at the sight of any police person. They were made to pledge that would never talk about
their school or teacher or lesson anywhere beyond the walls of the school.

Everyone but Jhimli ran away. She sat flat on the floor. She wished the police would come and catch her.
A jail is better than this place! The thought of seeing the police van however excited her and she went to
the window to see the van. She saw the jeep, the red siren on it, the white uniform clad officers, her
dreamland! But today something was extra special; on the window seat (officer seat as Jhimli used call it)
was a lady police officer! That was what Jhimli wanted to be.
As the jeep passed the narrow lane, her small yet wide eyes trailed it. When it was beyond her sight she
looked back and across her classroom saw a strange sight. Two masked men jumped from behind a
shanty, removed the cloth covering their face, changed their shirts transferred the contents from a bag
to another, stuffed their shirts and the cloth in the bag, threw the bag on the roof of her school and
started running in the opposite direction of the Jeep. Jhimli had watched enough television in the shop
in front of her house to know that these were the goons. She knew running behind them would be futile
so instead she tried hard to remember the faces and strained to hear if she could catch any words.

As they left she started to think what to do… this was her chance! She could be Inspector Jhimli. But
how? What should she do? The bag and the shirts that the goons threw. They can have a clue! But the
classroom was too high for her to climb. She pulled the teacher’s chair outside the class and tried to
climb the roof. It was still too high for her. She looked around to see if she could use something. She saw
few bricks lying around, and began piling them on the chair. She balanced herself on the bricks and
climbed the roof and very carefully picked the bag with her frock. Fingerprints were crucial evidence.

When she turned around to climb down she was afraid, she had slipped two bricks down while jumping
to climb the roof. She heard the siren again! Today was her lucky day!

She started shouting “Bachao Bachao!” as the jeep neared. Few people had gathered and the police jeep
too stopped. Down came the police inspector! How beautiful the uniform looked on the officer! ‘When
will I have a chance of wearing it’ wondered Jhimli.

“How did you get there?” asked the officer.

“ami dekhechi oder!” shouted Jhimli. “Help me to come down!”

When a constable went up and carried Jhimli down she was still holding the bag.

“What’s this?” asked the inspector surprised to see the little girl holding the bag with the end of her
frock.

“this the goons threw away! It will have their fingerprints so I didn’t hold it with my bare hands!”
answered Jhimli with a twinkle in her eye, “Inspecter Diya Chatt.. Chatte…” trying to read the name plate
on the uniform.

“Inspector Diya Chatterjee!” completed the young officer with a twinkle matching Jhimli’s.

“What’s your name?” she asked with a slight smile

“Inspector Jhimli!” chirpped an excited Jhimli, but soon realizing her mistake, said in lower tone, “Sorry
sudhu Jhimli, Jhimli Das.”

The officer smiled at her and asked her, “so Jhimli what did you see?”
Jhimli narrated what she saw and ended by saying, “I’ll go with you to the police station, I know you’ll
need their drawings to catch them. Don’t worry! I knew it so saw them very closely and remember every
detail of their face!”

Inspector Diya was impressed and fascinated with this little girl, she took her on her lap in the front seat
and headed for the police station!

‘This is what I’ll become not a thief, or a pick pocket!’ promised Jhimli to herself as she saw the shops
pass away. ‘This police jeep is faster than those in which I ride in my dreams. I’m actually riding a police
jeep. I’m sitting on the officer’s seat!’ jhimli’s thoughts ran wild with amazement!

When the Jeep stopped she saw ‘PARK STREET POLICE STATION’ written on a huge building! ‘This is huge!
Almost 10 times, no no 100 times of her house!’ thought a wide eyed Jhimli. When she entered the
police station trailing right behind Inspector, she changed her mind, ‘the police station is at least 1000
times her house!’ all the officers were staring at her. She was suddenly frightened. She quickened her
pace and held inspector Diya’s hands!

“Ki holo Jhimli? Sorry Inspector Jhimli?” asked Inspector Diya turning around and looking at her.

Both the girls smiled, and soon both of them were in their fairyland again.

Jhimli sat on a chair and described the faces the goons after finishing a bar of 5star, her favourite
chocolate. The artist finished sketching. Jhimli learned that these two had been looting shops in the
nearby area, but today they also injured the shopkeeper after looting the shop! She informed Inspector
that she had heard the two talk of ‘Taki’. Inspector Diya got busy with a few phone calls. She notified
Basirhat police station of the information and send the pictures of the goons.

“ami kal abr asbo to?” inquired Jhimli in a tone as if she begged to hear a yes.

Inspector Diya could understand the emotions the child, but also felt the burden of her duties. She could
not entertain a child amidst all her work. However she did not even feel like breaking the hope in those
two tiny eyes. She picked Jhimli and went to drop her home! En route she asked

Where do you live?’

‘Beside Park circus railway line.”

‘Who are there in your family?”

‘Ma and me. Baba died in an accident. Ma works nearby, and I go to school. No I don’t go to school. I
mean” Jhimli had promised not to disclose her school or her teacher. She hated her school and also the
teacher. But she couldn’t disclose the secret!’ she was trying hard to think what to do. ”I used to go to
school then.. baba died… baba died in a railway accident.”

Jhimli remembered one of her classes when her teacher had said; “if you ever get caught, narrate a sad
story of your life!”
It was not difficult for any of those kids to narrate a sad story; they were in that school as they were
victims of some tragedy. Life had been cruel on each on them. Suddenly she realized the mother’s pain.
How helpless her ma would have felt every time Jhimli complained about her school. She could no
longer crib in front of her mother. But she would never go back to her school, not after today! She had to
do something!

“Jhimli… Jhimli! What happened? What are you thinking?”

Inspector Diya’s voice brought Jhimli back to reality. She could feel the breeze blow her hair. She was
sitting in the ‘officers’ seat’ of the jeep. She looked at Diya’s face and asked “you’ll catch the goons and
punish them. Won’t you?”

‘Hm’

“Should I come again to police station tomorrow?”

“Do you want to come?”

“hm. I want to become a police inspector! But ma says I can’t be! I can’t to go to the school I want. Ma
won’t send me. And I don’t want to do as ma says. Baba used to say that ill grow up to be a great
woman! I want to become a police inspector” she said in a breath and stopped. She realized the car had
also stopped then slowly she added “like you!”

When she got down she saw her ma was looking for her all around! She was scared to see her daughter
with an inspector! Jhimli ran towards her ma, hugged her, and then narrated the incidents from the
morning and introduced Inspector Diya.

“Should I come tomorrow? The goons aren’t caught yet! I could identify them!” Jhimli pleaded.

“Yes, I’ll send someone to pick you up.” Inspector Diya said with a smile and turned back towards her
jeep. As she was about to get up on the jeep, she turned back and called,

“Jhimli!... edike ay”

A smiling and happy kid came towards her and looked at her with an eager face, “You’ll be Inspector
Jhimli one day! Never believe, even for once, that you can’t!”

………………………………………………………………….*****………………………………………………………………….

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