Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Legal Paranoia

Lawyering screws with your head. You know how they say, "Doctors make the worst patients?" Well, Lawyers make the worst everything - friends, sisters, girlfriends, mothers, anything. When I say Lawyers, I essentially mean Litigators, though my Corporate Shark friends may have their own point of view. If you watch Boston Legal, two names of the firm "Crane, Poole and Schmidt" are mentally deranged. Can you blame them?


Is this a sudden realization? Not really, though I must confess that the first nags came to me while I was working for an NGO which dealt with relief for women in troubled marriages. Most of my day would involve sitting with young girls, some of them my age, with three kids, crying about how they were beaten by their husbands, how their husbands were having affairs, how their husbands tried to sell them off... for some unexplained reason, the "client counselling" techniques would require one to probe into the history of the relationship, and many of them, surprise, surprise, would begin with a happy happy love story, with some minor aberrations ("once only... we were at bandstand, and he pinched me..." or "he would joke, see, by marrying you I am losing out on 2 crores dowry, ha ha") and then post marriage, it would work out to some sort of living hell. I was very sympathetic, having gone through an abusive relationship for about 3 years myself. Then, however, I began internalizing it. After a long day (and trust me, working there ensured very long days) when I would meet my then boyfriend, who was also working in Mumbai, I found myself over analyzing every small quirk he displayed, thinking, ohmigawd, this is it, he's a psychopath, he's going to sell me to some Arab shaikh once we get married, oh help, oh help.


So when my Sister spoke to me last night, talking about her psycho boyfriend, and asking me for my take on the matter, I had to stop myself several times from giving her "legal" advice. I did point out that he sounded remarkably like the trash a lot of my Clients are married to, and that she should think twice about going long term. She then moved to point out that it's usually me who is doing the trash dating, but at that I decided to change the subject. Whew!



Our entire office is plagued with the paranoia. Yesterday my Boss's crazy brother in law (i.e., crazier than him) landed up with a bag of diabetes medication, credit cards, a cell phone and an ID card, all belonging to the same person. He claimed that someone had left this in a cafe where he was having coffee. Why anyone would keep their entire world in a .5mm thick plastic bag was beyond me. The Crazy had left the bag with the bodyguard, saying that he had called the owner of the belongings and asked him to pick it up. My Boss was highly unconvinced. He stared at the bag in his strange sort of way, stared at me, stared at the bodyguard, and then began reciting the wordings of a Panchnama Report, which was possibly being prepared just as we were innocently studying the contents of the bag:


"He then led us to the Kingpin to whom he had given the stolen goods and who had accepted the goods, knowing them to be stolen. He led us to the third floor of XYZ Building to the office of Advocate...."


Crazy was called back and given the bag, and shown the butt of the Bodyguard's Carbine.



Lawyering, particularly work and research on Terrorism, makes it impossible for me to travel in peace. As if I weren't scared enough of flying, the prospect of getting bombed doesn't make it any easier for me. And last night in the 8:36 Andheri harbour Local, was the pits.



I step into the compartment to find a young girl sitting there, appearing to be slightly imbalanced. You know what I mean? Like there will be the cuckoos who walk around the street, screaming away and laughing at themselves, and everyone knows that they are crazy, and that it's easy to just shove them into a car, take them to the nearest mental hospital and earn the 1000 bucks + blanket + banana (please tell me that the reward for turning in a madman has been revised!). And then again, you have the people who look like all is not well in the brain box, but it's kind of politically incorrect to call for help to deal with the person.



She was wearing a dress, long sleeves, long skirt. Her face was covered with pock marks, it appeared, slit eyed, unkempt hair yet pulled into a ponytail. What got me thinking was not her appearance, at first. It was the fact that she didn't get off the train when it pulled in at VT. She just stood there. I opened my mouth to say something to her. But somehow I couldn't. Maybe she changed her mind, maybe she slept through the Masjid Stop and wants to go back. Fine.


She sat on one end of the compartment and I on the other. Other women got into the train, and two sat directly opposite her. Everyone was oblivious to the girl, some gave her a curious look, but she went largely ignored.


She looked like she was in a trance. I suddenly remembered the tactic of suicide bombers to swallow nerve relaxants before embarking on their last mission. This woman's dress was also funnily shaped. Her waist belt seemed to be unnaturally wide, and slightly protruding. I tensed in a panic, my heart racing. What if this was it? What if she was going to blow us all up? Her hand raised to her face and she looked at them seriously. Maybe she was going to pull the plug, or press the button, or do whatever these suicide bomber types do. I stood up, my face pale, grasping the edge of the seat, wondering which direction I should turn my face to, oh what was the point, these bombs were stuffed with metal shrapnel for deadly impact within a 50m radius, I am such a goner, oh hell... I nearly shut my eyes while she brought her hand up right next to her face... and then into her mouth.


She began eating her fingers, and then eating her fist. She chewed them very purposefully, and even had a look of pleasure on her face, as if the chewing of her digits was satisfying her hunger. He entire hand began disappearing into her mouth, and her eyes kept closing. The women sitting opposite her were still oblivious, and looked up only when she started slipping to the floor in a stupor. Suddenly they realized that she was not wearing any shoes.
They got up and rushed to my side of the compartment. They were frightened by her lack of footwear. We all then moved to the door and tried to get Police intervention, but as usual, there was no one to help us.
Well. In the meanwhile I am trying to plan a holiday with the boy, and he's told me that I'm over-planning the entire thing, just because I got a little excited while booking a hotel and went completely ballistic with the IRCTC website today for repeatedly rejecting my transactions. (Internet reservations my ass...) Incidentally, I am also reviewing a Domestic Violence Case which my boss has thrown on my head. He's filed for Divorce, on grounds of mental instability:
"She would be completely paranoid while making even the most simple arrangements, and though I would tell her to relax she would hyperventilate and start screaming. In case anything did not happen according to plan, she would start screaming and beating inanimate objects which she thought were responsible, and even curse the weather gods. She thus had ample symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia..."
Gulp.

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