‘What do we do now?’, Dipa paced frantically with the letter in her hand.
Anil did not know and went on to add, ‘I mean, for God sake, it was just a peck on…….’ Dipa’s tart glare made Anil trail off.
Dipa read the letter for the third time since it arrived today morning, hand-delivered by the constable of F police.
‘You are summoned to appear in Court 5 on Tuesday 15th September 2032 to defend your case’, the last line read in bold.
‘Can we say it was done within the walls of our home?’, she looked at her husband.
‘I was inside the house but you were…..’, Anil crinkled his eyes, ‘technically, in the hallway, outside of our main door’, Anil said scrutinizing the video.
The fateful day’s event replayed in their minds.
Dipa was getting ready to go on an on-site job for a couple of weeks. Anil had just then returned from his night shift. As Anil looked at her getting ready, in a sudden rush of passion, he had pulled her to him demanding a kiss. But the need went unattended when Dipa’s phone sniffled.
She was late, her boss informed her.
Dipa pushed her husband away, gathered up all her stuff and hurried towards the door.
Anil’s lips cried foul. Just when she was outside their door, he saw his last window of opportunity and did his deed. He planted an indecorous kiss on her luscious lips.
But alas, the SeeCam drone had caught it all.
The footage, which accompanied the letter showed Dipa, on her toes, being kissed by her husband blatantly outside the permissible limits of the house, proving beyond doubt that the couple was indeed engaged in an outrageous display of affection in public space.
Those were the worst of the times to be in love.
It started rather innocuously with a few slapping around every February 14th by bullies who took it upon themselves to protect the cultural values of the country.
No expression of love in public spaces was tolerated, especially if it involved body parts like hands and lips. Couples were threatened to be married off if they were caught holding hands, even if it was to cross the busy road.
Groping in public transport?
Trifle nuisances, bullies claimed. They could wait.
But don’t you dare hold hands or kiss, they warned.
As the years went by, the bullies became scarier. This fear was mistaken for respect that they named themselves Men with Morals. Of course, some of these MM’s were rapists and abusers. But their contribution towards protection of the cultural values could not be denied.
Public spaces were monitored for the unnatural holding of hands and other displays of affection like looking lovingly into the eyes. With iron fists, MM’s regulated affection in the society.
A needless furore was raised. The Government did not want to be deemed intolerant. Hence a committee was formed.
Let’s hear both the sides of the story, the Government said.
MMs argued that love can lead to…ermm.. physical needs…… (Gasp).
A meek voice said, ‘it’s natural, ain’t? like hunger?’.
The meek voice was drowned and the body was never found.
The benevolent Government decided to set up a Ministry to moderate affection in the society. Under the ministry came a powerful police force called
Force Overseeing Controlled Kindness – F O… Never mind what the initials stood for! They were called the F police.
Soon SeeCam drones were hovering all over to catch anyone losing decorum, red handed. What started with parks and malls gradually, permeated closer home including porch of the houses and hallways of the apartment buildings. After all, Culture, like charity, began at home.
The State of the Art technology used thermal imaging and movements detectors to capture any offending expression of love. The images were then automatically sent to the F force and summons were issued when the case warranted.
That brings us to Anil’s predicament. When he kissed his wife, his head was out invading the public airspace and Dipa was conclusively outside the door when the act took place.
Many were in the airless hall, waiting to be called into the Court 5. This was the couple’s first time in the court and their nerves showed on their faces.
The cases were deftly dismissed in a matter of minutes that they found themselves facing the judge in an hour time.
The Judge eyes darted between Anil, the kisser and Dipa, the kissee.
‘What do you have to say for yourself?’, the judge asked.
Anil’s mouth went dry.
‘In my defense Sir, only my head was out.’, he blurted.
As long as the offending part, in this case, the mouth was in public space, it was a crime the Judge declared
Much to his embarrassment, the SeeCam footage was played on the large screen and the audio corroborated the evidence with a resounding ‘mmmmmwah’.
Anil weighed his odds and felt it was better to plead guilty and appeal to the compassion of the judge.
‘Guilty, Sir.’ Anil hung his head.
‘The Kisse?’, the Judge’s accusing eyes caught the bewildered Dipa.
‘She did not see it coming, Sir. She would have avoided me if she had an inkling’, Anil intervened.
The judge considered them for a minute and then scribbled his sentence.
He went on to say, ‘As the Kisser readily pleaded guilty and Kissee looks suitably repentant, a fine of INR 20,000 is imposed which will be taken as a contribution towards the construction of the 500-feet Celibacy statue coming up on the Eastern shores.’
Failing which, the judge added they would spend a week’s time in Swami Ahhaanandha’s ashram for an intense course on virtues of abstinence.
Now Anil did not know what went on inside the Ashram’s walls but rumour had it that abstinence was not one of them.
He readily paid the fine and sealed the deal.