Black bag….my constant companion during evening walks to the Mall
IIAS with its green verdant lawns, excuisite flowers, opening up shyly would welcome me in the morning. The morning Sun would shine on the majestic building….I would silently bow down to the Indian Tricolour flying high on the top of it and would think of how freedom from the Raj made us all equal before the Law….under the watchful and protective eyes of the Constitution. And thinking proudly of “Where the mind is without fear and head is held high…” I would be grateful to God for everything.
I would immerse myself in books during the day and in the evening would start for my lonely sojourns to the Mall…. How lonely I felt at that time…occasionally, to break the long monotony of solitary walks, I would think of my morning sojourns in the Lower Bazaar when I would gallop around, besides my Bauji holding his hand, so full of welcoming an exciting day ahead!
But my long walks in the evenings to the Mall were, invariably, full of anxiety. “Ekla Chalo” could never have been more true during this phase of my life.
“If there is no-one responding to your call – then go on all alone…”
The black bag, the bag full of those papers topped by the “Office Order” became my constant companion during these evening sojourns to the Mall. Everyone would suggest the name of a lawyer to consult…it was as one tries to find the best physician if one suffers from some body ailments. I would meet some or talk to some others on phone and what an experience it was.
I would have loved to pour out my heart, my bleeding heart, and the pain therein before the lawyers but all they wanted, each one of them, were PAPERS!!
” The Charge sheet?”
“The Show cause notice?”
“The enquiry report?”
“The Punishment Order?”
The all-knowing saviour would scan the documents in seconds and fire another salvo of questions.
And as I moved my head up and down signifying assent…..he would proclaim finally, “inquiry is conducted properly!” That meant in other words that I was dealt by giving fair opportunity and was guilty
Another one would say, “abusive language?”…Termination as per latest Supreme court judgement so and so!!!!
When I would say, ” No, I never abused anyone!,” I would be asked about my witnesses!!!
And when I would counter by showing how witnesses and documents were falsely fabricated,
another one, looking pitingly at me, would say, “leave the law to us….Google has made everyone a Know-all!”
Another one asked me, I had none, no witnesses. I asked him, “How would I produce witnesses if some imbroglio takes place in your office….wherefrom I would get a witness to speak for me?” And thought he would have many of would generate some, for sure!
I would show them the false document signed by “them”, my colleagues, claiming, ” On hearing noise we ran to the office and saw….”
And would show another one signed by the same persons acknowledging, “I was at my home, but signed the document when someone brought it to me…” Was that not enough? Had these people not acted against law? These responsible and highly professional colleagues signed a false document knowing well that it was being made to implicate me…. But all they wanted were witnesses!
One brazenly told me in a friendly manner, “Had you pleaded and wept like a woman…..no harm would have come to you!”
Most of the advocates that I met would look at me, giving me a second glance, I would be a little bit startled…. But then a Fifty-three year old woman a accused of catching hold of her superior from the collor of his shirt and that, too, in the office of the official? You don’t come across such women everyday….rarest of the rate breed so their curiosity was genuine. I understood. And I salute all of them for saving the innocents from the false allegations….
And I would think of Janet Reno’s words, “Being a lawyer is not merely a vocation. It is a public trust, and each of us has an obligation to give back to our communities.”
I met a few and was really tired. The advocates, considered the best bet gor winning a case, were on the panel of my workplace…. What could we, the affected ones, do?
And finally I handed over my case to one….signed the Vakalatnama…signing without even reading the terms and conditions as it meant handing over the contents of the black bag to my saviour -to-be. The black bag had become my burden…I wanted to get rid of the papers therein as soon as posdible. The case was listed for admisdion and was admitted and thereon my name became a number, a mere number!!
My entire identity zeroed in to a CWP number….