Slice of life- A cop’s double role Recently we have painted our house. Painting was done both ground-floor and first floor both interior and exterior within five days. The mastri was a very resourceful person. He knew his job well and quoted a reasonable amount compared to others. The deal was struck on Saturday around 10 o’clock and he wanted to start the work immediately. Though we told him we did not bring the cash to give him advance, he said, “Never mind. I have full trust in you. I can get the material from a shop and I have got men to start the work immediately. Only you should give the permission.” We thought that it would be wise to start the work as early as possible and complete it before the arrival of monsoon. It was the second day of Navaratri and I was worried that the work would stretch till Saraswathi puja if we started later. He promised to finish the work within five days. So we told him to go ahead and made sure that the work would continue on Sunday also. The first day he brought ten workers and they started cleaning different parts of the house and completed cleaning just in three hours. The same day they completed the first coating also. On Sunday also the same ten workers came and continued their work religiously. One worker received a call on his cell phone and after speaking he requested another worker to give him his bike as he had to go urgently on work. He gave him the bike key and he went away. Then we asked the worker if he knew him very well to allow him to take the bike, and if something happens on the way what he could do. He replied that he was a police constable and he got a call from his superior and so there was nothing to worry. Then we both were struck with wonder. “What are you telling? If he is a police constable why should he come to do this menial job for a daily wage?” He said, “On and off he comes to do this job. Whatever money he gets he gives to his widowed mother. His wife does not allow him to give money to his mother from his salary. Please do not ask him anything about this. He will feel very embarassed.” He returned after some time and continued his work. We did not ask him anything that day. After two days he turned up again for work and he was working outside all alone. We started talking to him casually and enquired him about his family. He said that he was married and got his first child. His father had expired and his mother was staying alone. Then we slowly opened the topic of his other job that we heard from his co-worker. Then he exclaimed, “Oh my god! I told him not to tell anyone. I am very much ashamed.” Then my hubby said, “There is nothing to be ashamed of. You are really a worthy son of a worthy mother. You are balancing your life in such a way that you have not deserted your mother outright because of your wife.” He said, “Sir, my mother has done a lot for me and she even looked after my wife when she delivered the baby. But that wretched ungrateful wife of mine did not want to keep our mother with us. She does not want me to give her money from my salary. So on Sundays when there is not much work in the station I go for these odd jobs and sometimes take casual leave and work like this. I am giving the money to my mother.” Then my hubby said, “Your mother is really blessed to have a son like you. Even some men who are earning in thousands do not care for their parents if their wives are opposed to send money to their in laws. May your brand of men flourish in large numbers!” It is really heartening to see a person balancing his life between two poles.