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An estimated 9-minute read

Winners, Losers, and their Prayers

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Riaz Sonawala was a successful lawyer. In his mid-forties, he was always impeccably attired, and carried a regal air around him everywhere he went. He was suave, sophisticated, and had a baritone voice which inspired the awe of the people watching him. He was a self made man, lived in a posh locality, and was proud of his latest acquisition, a Rolls Royce – Phantom. His clients included the whos who among politicians, industrialists, and celebrities. Whenever one of them got into any trouble, the chances are that they would contact Riaz. And why not? Riaz always got them out of trouble, often earning a sneer from jealous contemporaries in the profession.


Among the more sensational matters Riaz was handling was the defense of a former senior cabinet minister exposed in a sting operation. The minister had allegedly sought five acres of prime land in an SEZ zone for approving a multinational’s mega investment project in the state. It was rumored that the investment was the largest ever, and would generate 20,000 jobs over the next two years. The minister was caught red handed by a television film crew, posing as representatives of the multinational, when he demanded that five acres of the land allotted to the multinational be transferred to a sham company that he had set up. Following an enquiry, the minister was dropped from the cabinet, and had criminal proceedings instituted against him, which were pending before the I Class Magistrate.


Riaz knew that the entire media was following the story. Trial was over and the judgment reserved. But Riaz was a worried man. Only two days ago, he tried using his most potent “winning formula” to succeed – of sending a generous “gift” to the Magistrate. “Rupees one crore!! He’s probably never seen so much money in his life,” thought Riaz. That was right. The Magistrate had indeed not seen so much money ever – and did not want to. The Magistrate was an honest, unsung hero, who took no nonsense from anyone. He refused the “gift” and shot a letter to the Chief Justice complaining about Riaz. Riaz knew that contempt proceedings would soon be initiated against him. His hollow lawyering skills would soon be exposed and he would stand shamed before the world.


Riaz went to bed that night, praying fervently that the inevitable somehow does not happen. “Oh, God!! Please save me,” he prayed. “I promise to change my ways.”




Adit was Riaz’s son. Four years ago, he had completed his schooling in one of the most elite and expensive private schools in the country. Though Adit was an expert in computers and networking, Riaz wanted his son to be a lawyer. Adit obtained admission in a national law school, 600 kilometers away from home. Adit was too happy to join and be away from his parents. It gave him the freedom to be himself. Though not exceptional in academics, Adit had managed to clear three years in law school without major hiccups. It was in his fourth year that troubles began. Unknown to his parents, Adit was depressed. He had a failed affair, rejected by a girl whom he thought the world of. His grades began to fall. He had failed in three courses in the semester, and had to write the repeat exams. If he failed again, he would lose a year. The repeat exams were a week away, and no matter how much Adit tried, he just could not get himself to study. He knew how much clearing the exams meant to his father, and dreaded the thought of losing a year – which now seemed inevitable.


Feeling defeated, lost, and depressed, Adit was now getting desperate. Suddenly a brainwave stuck him. Adit saw light at the end of the tunnel. Bright light!! “Why on earth didn’t I think of it before,” thought Adit – congratulating himself. “I need to be careful, though.”

Adit’s plan was simple and he was confident of its success. Being an expert at computer networking, Adit had also picked up hacking skills. His plan was to hack into his professors’ computers and access the question papers. Once he could “lay his hands” on the question papers, the rest would be easy. Adit set about his task. He needed help though. He decided to contact his good friend from school – Sunil – studying computer networking at a premier engineering college.

While trying to contact Sunil, Adit committed a huge mistake. He emailed Sunil using his law school e-mail id., not knowing that mails were secretly tracked by the law school administrator. The administrator alerted the Examination-in-Charge, and they laid a trap for Adit. They let Adit communicate with Sunil, and once Adit broke into the professors’ computers with Sunil’s remote help, they blew his lid. Adit was trapped, and had nowhere to go. He was summoned by the Director, whom he had to meet tomorrow.

Adit knew that he may now not just lose a year – but may be expelled from law school itself.

Adit went to bed that night, weeping like a kid, dreading what would happen tomorrow. He prayed fervently. “Oh God, get me out of this mess. I promise to study hard, and be honest henceforth. Please don’t let my father know.”



Shireen was Riaz’s wife. Her only grouse against her husband was that he worked too hard, and spent little time with her and the family. Shireen led an active social life and was often featured in page 3 gossip columns. She always wore designer clothes and was extremely conscious of her looks and the way she dressed. With her husband making enough money, she never had the necessity to earn. She looked atleast 10 years younger that what she was, and it was becoming an embarrassment for her to tell others that she had a son who was studying to be a lawyer.

Unknown to Riaz, Shireen had grown extremely friendly with one of Riaz’s more prominent clients, Arjun, a successful builder. Arjun was 50, the toast of the construction industry, and had projects in every major city. Riaz had introduced Shireen to Arjun just three months ago, when Shireen was thinking of purchasing a pent-house because she “liked the idea of owning one.” Being a prestigious client, Arjun personally accosted Shireen to his major projects. A divorcee, Arjun took very little time in getting attracted to her. Shireen enjoyed the harmless flirting at first, and was in awe of Arjun as he boasted of his riches. In fact Arjun once flew Shireen to another city in his private jet so that they could see his apartment complex under construction there. They were back in the evening, and Riaz was not even aware of his wife’s trip to another city, eight hundred kilometers away.

For the past two days, Shireen was an extremely worried woman. She was two months pregnant, carrying Arjun’s child. “How could I be so stupid?” moaned Shireen. “Damn it, I have a 20 year old son!” She dreaded thinking of the repercussions this news would have if the press got wind of it. “I have to do something, quick!!”

Shireen confided in her close friend, a Gynecologist working in London. They made a plan. Shireen would go to London on a holiday, and have her pregnancy terminated there. It would be all hush, hush and nobody would know.

Shireen went to bed that night, extremely tense. She prayed. “Oh God, please save me! I promise to be faithful to my husband forever and never meet Arjun again. Save me please!!”


Krishna was Riaz’s clerk. Krishna’s father, Prabhu, worked as a Jamedar (Doorkeeper) in the High Court. Prabhu had studied upto class 8, and did not want his son to follow his footsteps. Working at the High Court, Prabhu had seen hundreds of lawyers over the years, and his life’s biggest dream was to see his son be a lawyer too. Nobody in Prabhu’s immediate or extended family had studied beyond high school, but that did not deter Prabhu from egging his son to study law. He sent Krishna to a local government school, where Krishna struggled to pass and scraped through his class 10 exams scoring 41 percent. Krishna opted for the Arts stream and joined a local junior college. Two years later, Prabhu’s joy new bounds when his son passed his pre-university course. Krishna had fared slightly better this time, scoring 46 percent, but that was enough for his dad to be proud of his son.

Studying in a national law school was out of question for Krishna. He did not even attempt their entrance exams. His grades were not good enough to secure admission in the other reputed non national law schools either. Prabhu did not give up. There was nothing that would stop his son from studying law. Prabhu approached a senior judge in the High Court seeking a recommendation for his son’s admission to Krantiveer Rani Kittur Chennama Law College, where the judge was a patron. Having known Prabhu over the years, the judge obliged, and the rest was easy. It did not matter that among the 900 odd law colleges in India, Krantiveer Rani Kittur Chennama Law College ranked perhaps among the bottom 50.

After getting his son enrolled in a law college, Prabhu boasted of his son to the other Jamedars in the High court, who were only too happy for Krishna. All of them pooled in money and bought a gift for Krishna, something that he had never used before. A pair of shining black shoes.

On his part, Krishna did not want to disappoint his dad. His mind was set in completing the law course and fulfilling his father’s dream. After attending classes for the first few days, Krishna however realized that attending college was futile. He learned nothing. Rather, he was taught nothing. That’s when his father again pulled a few strings and got his son to work as a clerk in Riaz’s office. “It does not matter if you are not paid,” Prabhu told his son. “Just work in Saab’s office for five years, and learn all you can. After five years, you will be better than most lawyers entering the profession.”

From then on, every single day, Krishna lived his father’s dream. Within two years, Krishna had become familiar with the court system, and new words like “affidavit,” “caveat,” “injunction,” “bail,” etc. became a part of his everyday vocabulary. He became an expert in the court filing process, and was familiar with registration of documents before the sub-registrar. Because Krishna was sometimes used as a conduit to deliver money on behalf of his senior, he also learnt about the more seamy side of Riaz’s practice. “I’m going to be different,” Krishna always told himself. “I do not want a posh house, or an expensive car.”

As in school, Krishna just about managed to clear his exams, more often than not, securing the bare minimum passing marks. His scores however did not matter. The fact that he passed did. He now had only three more years to go before becoming a lawyer!

Krishna was religious too. He went to bed every night with a simple prayer. “Thank you God, not just for who I am, but also for who I am not.”





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