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Untitled short story

Ramjatan had been standing there for more than three hours now…the heat was tremendous…add to that the noxious fumes of passing vehicles…the heat and pollution were a deadly combination. There was a bottle of lukewarm water at his feet…he bent down and took a sip…the water warm enough for gargling. He raised his right hand to gesture the impatiently waiting group of vehicles to start moving and braced up for next session of head pounding sound pollution of the horns. Ramjatan always wondered why everyone was in such a hurry…why can’t they start a little early each day, if they need to be somewhere on time…then all that honking…why? would it change anything…Ramjatan’s wife would make ear-plugs for him, which he never put on, in case he missed out on hearing any sirens. He didn’t have them on today either…and finally his self imposed torture paid dividends…he heard the faint wail of an ambulance caught behind a wall of traffic…Ramjatan got up on the balls of his feet and tried to locate the ambulance in the heterogeneous mix of vehicles having different shape, size and power source. He found it…with its blue beacon flashing…a tiny slim omni stuck between a large white SUV and two auto rickshaws…ahead of them, layers of traffic. Ramjatan quickly turned around and blew his whistle, signalling the currently open traffic to stop. As the remaining traffic already within the junction trickled across, he gestured the lanes which had the desperately wailing ambulance to start moving. The whole bunch of traffic started moving like a giant worm…across the junction…the large SUV turned out to be a good samaritan and moved to the left…blocking the autos but letting the ambulance out into free stretch of asphalt. Ramjatan gestured appreciatively towards the white SUV. Everything seemed to have worked out as he saw the ambulance moving swiftly down the street. Satisfied, he turned around to grab his bottle for another sip of hot water…that was when a big and heavy palm struck his face…he tried to retain balance, but the momentum imparted to his body by an unexpected force was unmanageable. Ramjatan fell across his Traffic post and tumbled onto the hot asphalt. The asphalt must have been hot enough to make a poached egg on it. Shaken and a little disoriented, he got up and turned around to find a white clad gentleman standing in his spot, his hands sitting on the waistline in an aggressive posture.
‘How dare you stop a VIP vehicle? Are you you new to this job…although it doesn’t look like that…so should I assume that you are simply an idiot?’
Ramjatan couldn’t figure out how to respond…he was not able to recognize the politician…all e could guess from the audacity of the person was his possible affiliation to the ruling party. ‘Sir…mistake…ambulance’
The leader stared at Ramjatan for a few seconds
‘Good that you realize your mistake…now get up here and do your job’
Leader sahib pointed to Ramjatan’s spot and started walking towards his vehicle. Someone tugged at Ramjatan’s pants…on the tenterhooks from the recent experience…he abruptly turned around to find the small boy who used to hawk flowers at this junction, standing there. The boy held up Ramjatan’s beret-cap in his right hand and a fresh red rose in another. This little gesture from the boy acted like the first rain of the season which washed away all the dirt and filth…he smiled at the boy and took the rose from him. The boy was not finished yet…he completed his interaction with the best salute he could come up with. Ramjatan in a moment of emotion, saluted him back as if the boy was the Traffic SP, out for inspection. There were few hundred eyes which were watching all this drama unfold in the center of one of the busiet traffic intersections in the city…those eyes were feeding minds of these common people..who are not VIPs…who obey all the rules…but could do with a little less honking…the little boy’s gesture stirred something inside these normally dormant minds…a chant started…’Shame…shame’…some one revealed the name of the politician…which got added to the chant…Mr. leader who was walking like an action hero…back to the car…suddenly turned into a cornered dog…his started walking faster…eager to get into the sanctuary of his vehicle…Ramjatan gestured people to calm down as he knew that such volatile situations could turn worse any moment. He got back on his post and as a parting gift to his assaulter, gestured the VIP car to get out of there…fast. Two hours passed without any incident. Ramjatan was getting ready for his shift to end when he saw the leader’s VIP car come across the intersection and stop in the corner. The leader was inside. Ramjatan was scared…he had never been reprimanded in his career…he had worked with the best of his ability and dedication. That was the reason why the Traffic Police HQ considered him as a suitable person to man the busiest traffic intersection. Maybe, all the good will earned through these years had accounted to nothing….the leader had stepped out of the vehicle and his assistants were busy talking to Ramjatan’s colleagues at the traffic island. Ramjatan tried to keep his focus on the traffic but his gauge would find its way back to the place where some frantic discussions were taking place. Ramesh, Ramjatan’s replacement, was now walking towards the traffic post. ‘Minister saheb wants to talk to you’
‘why? am I getting suspended’
‘Not sure’
Ramjatan gingerly got off the post and started walking towards the small posse of politicians and officials. He took off his cap and kept it in his folded hands as he approached them. The minister now started walking towards him…he didn’t look angry, which confused Ramjatan. As they came closer, the minister brought his hands together, folded over his chest…Ramjatan could see tears welling up in his eyes…Ramjatan was the first to speak ‘Please forgive me, sir…it won’t happen again’
The minister had put his hand over the folded hands of Ramjatan…
‘No sir…I want you do what you did today…each and every time…even if the president’s vehicle has to wait’
Ramjatan gave a confused look to the minister
‘Sir, because of you my child was saved…the ambulance that you let through was actually carrying my daughter who had met with an accident…the doctors told me that if she had arrived a few minutes later…they couldn’t have been able to save her…’
Minister saheb then took out a envelop and gave it to Ramjatan. He opened it and saw a large wad of currency notes…
‘This is a small token of my appreciation and gratitude’
‘ I was just doing my job sir…I can’t accept this’
‘But you have to…its a reward for your sincerity’
‘Sir, if you really want to reward me…please be humble and accommodating of others’ Ramjatan couldn’t believe what he had just uttered…he could see the face of minister saheb go dark for a second…then, minister saheb smiled…’It’s a promise to you…keep doing the good work’
The group of people along with the minister saheb, packed themselves into their cars and left swiflty.
Ramjatan started walking towards the post…his crushed little bottle was nowhere to be found. He was about to ask Ramesh, when Ramesh expecting the question, pointed to the traffic island…there was a gleaming new water fountain inviting Ramjatan to take a sip of the cold and clean water…