I am paranoid. I’m quite sure it’s inherited.
I am unreasonably suspicious about driving around Karachi after sunset and being mugged. Regardless, I take it as a challenge and in order to prove my driving skills (by the way women have to prove themselves more, particularly in tasks in which men are considered to be better than us) to my family, I often run errands for them.Until now, I believe, my paranoia and vigilance had saved me from being robbed. But as all good things come to an end, so did the un-bolstered truth of ‘I’ve never been mugged.’
A couple of weeks ago, as I drove past an under-lit, empty road of a posh residential area – with my brother – stories about friends and acquaintances, who have been robbed on that road, echoed in my ears. Scared that we might be followed by thieves too, the sight of a police van on the side of the road came only as half-a-breath of fresh air, as we were signalled to stop the car and park behind their vehicle.
Two thugs dressed casually – not in uniforms – walked towards the car and conveniently sat behind the driver’s seat, as if they owned my car. They demanded to see my driver’s licence and other car documents. I pulled out my licence, but in all this chaos and nervousness, I couldn’t find the car documents — although I know I had them somewhere there!
“Let’s take them to the police-station,” said one of them, nonchalantly. The other cop, however, rather shamelessly talked about ‘negotiating.’ The end result: the cops walked away with Rs800 in their pockets.
Will we ever be safe from ‘negotiating’ with people in power who abuse their authority? It seems to me that we are victims of our own actions. Taking the easy way out for everything and not standing-up for what is ‘right’ is not really a way towards success; we should not succumb to unlawful pressures from people abusing their powers. Fuming, unnerved, yet thanking God, I made my way back home — promising never to take the road less travelled.