The woman must have been in her late 50s. She was looking down at the table. Sitting next to her was her husband, a meek gentleman who looked older than his age. He was literally wriggling his hands and looking intently across the table at the police officer.
"Sir, she will not do it again," he said in a pleading voice.
Then the police officer harrumphed and thundered: "Won't do it again? That simple?"
"Sir, she has realized her fault. It was all impulsive," the old man's voice trembled. His manners do not reflect his designation - a general manager of the central bank. He was now completely off-guard, shaken and ashen-faced.
"Impulsive or not. You have called the police. As a lawman I have to take action according to the book," the officer roared.
"What action, sir?"
"First tell me how it happened?" the officer commanded.
The old woman bent closer to her knees. Her head down. And the veil of her saree pulled further onto her forehead.
"Well sir, we had a quarrel at night. A bad fight."
"Quarrel? Fight? At this age? Are you two jealous lovebirds? Teenagers?"
"Well sir, it never happened before. Only this time."
"So what happened next?"
"She threatened to commit suicide and locked the door from inside. I called her, pleaded her to open. She would not. I got panicked and called the police. When the police came she opened and came out. It's over sir. It was just a mindless act by my wife."
"Wow. How beautiful," the officer smirked.
"So let us go now?"
"GO? What go? What will happen about the fact that you called the police? I can't let you go like that. This is a serious case and I have to go by the law and take action."
"Sir, we have made a mistake. She has made a mistake. My children are waiting for us. We have been waiting here since midnight. Now let's forget everything and let us go."
"Not that easy, man," the officer pursed his lips and softly let out the words. "Not that easy. You are with the police. Here is a case in front of me. I will go by the book."
"I have to book her. She will be sent to custody and then produced in court tomorrow morning," the officer announced with a finality in his voice.
This time the old woman visibly quavered. She sharply looked up at the officer, her mouth agape, her eyeballs were about to roll out of the sockets.
"Sir, pardon me. Please," she almost broke down.
"DO you know what the punishment for attempted suicide is? Do you know what the law says? You don't know, right?"
"Well, suicide is the only thing in the book which is a crime if you cannot do it, and not a crime if you can do it."
"Did not get it sir."
"Well, the law says if you commit suicide it is no more a crime and no charges will be brought against you. But if you attempt and fail in killing yourself, it is a crime and we are bound to book you under the penal code. The maximum penalty for attempting suicide is one-year in jail."
The officer paused and then called out loudly: "Sentry. Take this woman inside and into custody."
The old man and his wife now broke down in tears.
"Sir, I will not commit suicide again," the woman sobbed. "I promise I will not. If you send me to jail my life will be ruined. I will die of shame."
Silence for some time.
"How will I believe you will not commit suicide again?"
"I promise. I will call you every day and tell you I am alive."
"Hmm. Okay. In that case I will let you go. Don't try to kill yourself again."
"No sir, thank you sir."
The man and his wife gathered themselves up hurriedly, offered a long Salaam to the officer and left.
The officer smiled to himself.