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An estimated 5-minute read

Comfortably numb

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27th April, 2010 9.20 A.M. Court of the Metropolitan Magistrate. Punctuality being the virtue of the Bored, Chandi Agreywal, LLM, reaches courtroom no 12 situate in a huge palatial Brit built building tastelessly modified in the interests of justice. The measured steps on the near empty corridors were a welcome relief from the exercise completed a few minutes back….Chandi recovering from the suffering endured while maneuvering through the streets of the capital which for the uninitiated are ‘art of living reality’ lessons of forgiveness and tolerance of the worst forms of criminal intimidation employing rolling wheels.(Chandi drives a H.Civic ...Daddy's gift for opting for litgation over the trainee contract with Charming, Handsome and Deadly)


A hairy four legged ball of puff, a dirt ball with the most exquisite eyes stare at Chandi from the rumple on the unkempt floor, yawns, stretches its paws and silently leaves the court room. Chandi looks around and realizes he is alone.


Filtered slanted rays of sunlight window crash into the centre of the passage between the dias and the seating arrangement evincing the Brownian . The dusty seats of the half broken chairs, meant for ‘Advocates only’, lie bucktoothed, as if laughing at a bad joke. Around , on the ceiling, blotches of old plaster hang in stoic silence, ad-hoc measures of sloppy half hearted renovations lazily wake up to yet another day,


Chandi finds the usual A 4 sheets pasted on the walls signifying solemn entreats CHAIRS FOR ADVOCATES ONLY ,




Moments later, a few men appear on the other side of the dais.  The Court clerk (peshkars), the St.Peters at the pearly gates of justice. They /He can help you out if you can help them/him out.. Neatly combed hair and trimmed moustache. The first two buttons of his polyester shirt open and sleeves rolled up. The speck of Rupa frontline and the odd shades of grey chest hair stare in sharp contrast to the freshly dyed hair. An amazing sense of calm and shine on his demeanour attract you ostensibly maintained by whisky and surrogate soda and an impish smile coupled with a huge heart for extra judicial reliefs. He is the guy who can tear up the AD cards duly returned post-service of summons, he is the person who chooses the next longish date of hearing and many more…he is responsible for the smooth running of the giant wheel of justice.


Soon more servile looking people arrive, all smiles, their bodies assuming character in the confines of the court room where they would bloom to importance for a better part of the day before disappearing in the metro after the day’s work. A few entreats as they go about doing their chores, dusting files, etc. Loud conversations from across the near-empty court room, jokes and small talk.


The fans get turned on. The dusts fly and settle elsewhere. An underage serves tea in opaque glasses and disappears. A few quick gulps later, a few lawyers arrive at the Pearly gates and make brief exits after having made equally brief enquiries. And then the crowd slowly gathers. The scoffing, coughing, mixture of several conversations, whimpers, scratches of phlegm, as Advocates prepare their clients to put up their best behavior or tutor last minute lies. The pock marked pimp, the one -eyed prostitute, the phony peddler and the putrid policeman, all in one place, the unequals in equal motions of distress. A few lawyers, without bands or coats, in jeans and sneakers throw their weight around a few more people waiting around the court room and the connecting corridor. The cops, hand in hand with the petty thief,sharing a joke in the corner.


The A4 causelists hung to a thread nailed to the wall, attract itigants like bees. A constant death metal refrain on low bass, the back ground score. A momentary pause as the Magistrate takes her seat.


The matters get called out twice. First the court clerk shouts out the cause, usually part of the first name of the cause which gets echoed by another for the ones waiting in the corridor.


One by one the matters get called and heard.


Outside the courtroom, a courtyard scene from a Benegal satire unfolds. Visually…..dull colours off the palette with generous roving spots of black and white mostly, in different shapes and sizes, linen, gauze and cotton , the junta busy in the cocktail of life. Helpless litigants, busy litigators, under trials, cops , pimps , touts amidst chai and nimbu pani , typists ,  stray mongrels , soupy sambhar smell mixed with cheap oil and nicotine and the ubiquitous dust.


As Chandi daydreams waiting for his matter on the lush lawns of Oxford or the manicured strip off the front gates in Berkeley , sharing a strong espresso with his blonde mate laughing over some funny incident over the last night’s beer brawl…fleeting to his moments of hashperspective in his hostel room littered with a  sycophantic junior ensemble cherishing the last international moot exploit, a dreamy eyed appealing to the prurient interest of his devilish mind exhausted after a hectic law school schedule.

Comfortably numb, Chandy could hardly hear the faint refrain of a name akin to his client’s echoed in the corridor. He jumps to his feet. Approaches the dais while perusing his file. Punctilious as always. Application, copies, caselaws neatly filed in separate folders. The matter: fixed for service of summons. Since no receipt on file from other people summoned   Judge murmurs something to the steno typist on Chandi’s left. The Court clerk whispers something back. The magistrate asks Chandi his name. Chandi replies in an oxonian twang, The steno types a wrong spelling on the CRT unable to comprehend. The Judge gives the earliest possible date, 27th August 2010.


Next Cause called ….and echoed again.


Chandi pushes himself out of the packed courtroom, unfazed. No applause, no cool canteen to regale with peers over quaint bytes spilled from leaks in the magic circle.

Chandi increases his pace to reach the next court room in time to seek an adjournment.


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