Pandemic: A Delhi lawyer’s search for his lost world

Crossing the road interjecting the long line of vehicles, showing the identity card, getting the frisking done and rushing to the court room with an eye on the board and on the mobile, the addressing in the Court room, the joy of a positive outcome radiates a lot of energy. The exchange of pleasantries and the long walk into the canteen was a routine affair.  Ordering a tea, coupled with hot samosas is just a beginning, the lengthy discussion begins there, the veterans open up their historical knowledge, on lawyers, judges, clients and much more, the witty among them would crack jokes on the way they swayed the case, how they charged, till the men serves hot tea and samosas, as sun moves into oblivion, the air is filled with aroma of pakora. The chairs are adjusted, the onlookers are invited, each bite is followed by topics as diverse as law, amendments, history, politics and much more. The big screen on the wall of the canteen would swing the discussion, as the news anchor would bring in a new hot topic of the hour. The case files on the table too would be heaving a sigh of relief, after bearing the lengthy arguments for long. The black robes clad men and women try to make a little way for themselves, the hundreds of faces one used to see are a thing of past now, the clients who were anxious about the outcome, the clerks who were running to the filing counter, the juniors who were always on the tenterhooks to ensure the filing is done on time, have all vanished in thin air.

The victory in court rooms, its celebrations, the Senior Advocates query “all well” which evokes a polite “yes sir” and the innumerable smiles are now memories. Gatherings were the theatre of expressions, the too mechanical life, its tensions, the backlogs, took a backseat in these short discussions, the beeping mobiles, brought the attention to the young colleague in court room, anxious about his or her Senior, the boards made one run like Usain Bolt, the lift offers a good bye before one could creep in, the stairs reminded of the extra samosa’s effect on fitness. “Mr. Counsel how can you say so” the gentle scolding in the court rooms which shapes the advocacy skills too has come to a grinding halt, the humble fervent pleas before the dismissal and the joy of notice too lies frozen, though mercury levels are high.

The apex court welcomes one with its grand splendor, the corridors are vacant, the gushing lawns are wondering where the lawyers have disappeared, the Monday’s and Friday’s, saw hundreds knocking the doors of the temple of justice, though law is still worshipped here, the devotees are absent. The machines are maintaining a conspicuous silence, it’s the same place where hundreds of bundles used to keep on moving. The beep of mobile, a gentle reminder of the matter kept in Saket, the junior might have exhausted all his skills explaining the matter in High Court, it’s time to reach out, one becomes a Champion racer to reach out in time, the finishing of matter on third call is not the end, the afternoon argument in Tis Hazari would make one skip the lunch. The ringing mobile, reminds one of the BP level of client, on an all time high, he transfers the same, the apology on an empty stomach and the initiation of arguments, is also so live in the pages of memory. The pending fees, the reluctance and excuses to pay off the same, the calls made to convince on the efforts made in, the clerk seeking a leave to embark on a family function, the dreams pinned on  a vacation are all memories of a normal life.

The virus came uninvited, the March went on with a warning, April taught lessons to remain within, May gifted anxious moments, June made scary predictions, July is passing, the life has been changed drastically, the worthlessness of material pomp is a big lesson the time is teaching, the sustaining in this trauma itself is a challenge, the health, financial and psychological impact on the lawyer community is deep, top to bottom it has shaken the concepts. The invisible enemy is still wrecking havoc though all efforts are made to contain it, the teacher used to begin stories in small classes introducing the topic by saying “Once upon a time there lived” as the fifth month pass on, the inner mind begins to tell a tale, once up on a time, I too lived the life of a real lawyer, cut off from the clutches of virtual world and away from the fear of infection… 

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