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But you guys ‘mujooga’!

“You are under arrest!” I have never had those words said to me and I never thought that they could ever be said with so much glee. The arrester had his head pushed through the car window with a wide smile behind his blue Nytil bed sheet material mask.

“You are under arrest! Ask me why,” said the joyful arresting officer.

You see, it was almost 7pm, just a few minutes to curfew. The road was jammed by drivers whose cartoon brains had been marinated in local excitement because for the first time in 60-something days, they could drive their Subarus without being stopped and being asked to produce the oh-so-precious Ministry of Transport sticker. We were tired, sticky with sweat and a bit smelly too. The painter’s masks we had been wearing all day did not help. They were tight as if waist trainers. So we would take breathers every now and again. Put off the mask for some fresh air, then put it back on again.

So, it was during one of those breaks that the wrong arm of the law waved us down.

“Ask me why,” he asked again. But before we could respond, he said, “Masks!” and I swear he did a little joy dance with his head as though of Krishna.

That man forced us to recite the Covid-19 story. How it started, why we should wear masks, wash our hands and not allow truck drivers to touch us.

“Do you know what happens at the police station where I am going to take you if you don’t see me in? There are no mattresses, no bedsheets, those clothes of yours will be removed, you will be naked. Even those bu earrings will be taken,” he added.

“I don’t know why I am sympathetic to women. I just become soft like this. If it was a man… anyway so where is the milk you are taking for the children? Just leave it here and go,” he said, showing off a wet patch of saliva that had sprayed from all that preaching. I wondered what his breath situation was like under all that wet cotton.

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