A Mourning Morning
Prologue: I have just been enrolled at the Bar Council of West Bengal and have earned the right to appear before the Court as an Advocate. It is 10-30 am on Tuesday, 8th September, 2009. I enter Court No 24 wearing my gown and band, with armloads of brief papers to meet the counsel there.
Counsel: Oh! You got your gown, congrats!
Me: Thank you, sir.
Counsel: So what are these papers about?
Me: Sir, this is a winding up petition against…
Me: Pardon me, sir?
Me: (now, exasperated) What, sir?
Counsel: Mourning Band, mourning band; Why are you wearing a mourning band?
Me: (with a completely lost expression) Mourning band?
Counsel: (irritated at my idiocy) Yes, you are supposed to wear a mourning band only when someone in the Court dies. If the judge sees you wearing it today, he will be very angry. Go, change it immediately.
Me: But, what is the difference between your band and mine?
Counsel: See, yours have a stitch in between.
Me: I didn’t know. I asked that lady in the second floor to give me band, she gave me these.
Counsel: (frantically, as if his reputation depended on it) Go, change. Or hide it with your gown.
I am feeling extremely foolish. All my happiness at appearing in the court for the first time has vanished by now. I spot a colleague and share this bit of distressing news with her. She is of the opinion that it can hardly be distinguished. The matter is called and heard.
Counsel: (after the matter is over and while we are leaving the court room) You should change it immediately. Do not wear it again. What have you done?! (Sees my senior with whom I have previously spoken and calls her) Look, look, she is wearing a mourning band today!
She silently stares at me, at a loss for words, wondering how she should react. I stare at the counsel, aghast at his behaviour.
Another counsel in court stares at me with the expression used by kids looking at an elephant or a tiger in the zoo for the first time. I come out of the court with all sorts of feelings waiting to burst out of me, some of which cannot be mentioned here.
Epilogue: I vent my anger on the lady who sold those darned mourning bands to me and made her exchange them with regular bands. I was pissed the whole day with an extremely foul mood. I discussed with my colleagues as to how the insensitive counsel tried to make me look like an utter fool in front of so many others.
After 10 days, when I started to narrate the story, another counsel and a friend told me that he already knew it! Looking at my surprised expression, he added very kindly “The whole High Court knows”! At last, I am famous. Perfect.
NOTE TO SELF: I have achieved a hat-trick – 3 posts on 3 consecutive days. Wonderful.