Wednesday, April 2, 2008

An OUTstanding performance

I heard his voice even through the thick wooden door of our conference room. I immediately tried to slip under the table but to no avail (except for spooking the hell out of the CBI Officers in the room). He may not be an army Officer, but Captain Bahadur was too quick for me.
"THERE YOU ARE!" he said, joyously. "It's today, it's today!"
What, the apocalypse? Then it all came back to me.
"Tonight, blah channel, blah time. I told Boss also. You know, your Boss said, don't call her Ruma, call her Lady. I doff my hat, lady," so saying he made a curtsy, and all the machoness I had developed over the past half hour explaining to Senior CBI Officers why their investigation completely and utterly sucked, went flying through the AC vent.
"You look fabulous, though your lovely speech was reduced to just half a second. What a shame, a crying shame."
I wondered whether the human attention span could catch half a second of airtime and secretly heaved a sigh of relief.
"Go through this, " he said, while exiting, handing me a huge bundle of paper. "It's my high court case." He held another one in his arm. "This I'm going to distribute all over."
The compilation included cartoons of his wife eating him up with a fork saying 498A. I also spied a High Court Order which was in respect of a Civil Case he filed against his wife (who else?) and his landlord, incidentally a sitting High Court Judge. The Judge delivering the Order was very critical of Capt. Bahadur's contemptuous acts towards his Brother Judge, but decided not to take strict action on account of the fact that Bahadur "had a case filed against him by his wife and mother who disowned him a very long time ago and so he was obviously disturbed on account of the same".
Even the Judiciary thought he was a lunatic.
The photocopied letter meant for distribution caught my attention.
"Please watch *** Channel at 10PM today for evidences against my wife and corruption in Judiciary. Special Attention to Justice *** and family!"
It was on the letterhead of the POMERO with Boss's name and number as the "Legal Aid Cell".
I began considering who could be engaged to represent us at the Bar Council in contempt proceedings.
A few hours later, A and I gathered at Lax's place to watch me make an utter fool of myself. I called my parents and forewarned them - it was OK to date a guy for a year without telling them, but not informing them of a television appearance was unforgivable. As the programme began, Capt. Bahadur stuttered and stammered through the one minute introduction time, and then a one minute life-clip was aired. I caught a glimpse of Boss, and noted how good the conference room was looking. The clip ended, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
"Don't worry", said Lax. "Am sure there's a concluding segment."
Yeow. Lax had already painted a scenario of my clip being broadcast and the audience booing me, and a voice booming from above.
I laughed nervously, and was distracted by the other contestants - a righteous old man working towards creating awareness and training individuals under the Right to Information Act, and a wannabe feminist activist working on implementing the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act regarding banning of sex determination and sex selection of the foetus. The woman had the Judge's sympathy but she was too irritating to be taken seriously and looked like she'd use the 5 lakhs to fund a new fabindia wardrobe. The Old man had to be led to the stage and the mike was too high for him so the host had to hold it to his mouth.
As a child I would be forced to compete in various random competitions. My parents encouraged me to do my best and never give up, like all parents. But unlike most parents, my Dad gave away the secret of competition - if you ever find yourself up against a child, someone handicapped or an animal, don't even think that you even have a hope in hell.
In short, Captain Bahadur was shot down.
Round after round ensued, and after a recap on how the candidates were to be voted for, to our utter surprise, the credits began to roll.
Without my clip.
It was no disappointment, but an anticlimax all the same. I imagined my words being taken out of context, morphed and dubbed to sound like something I wasn't meant to say, or worse, actually having said something which should not have been said. What if this stupid sound byte cost my position as one of the little princesses of Domestic Violence litigation? What if the ladies in the train would point fingers at me and accuse me of being a traitor? What if lawyers I was fighting tooth and nail against in 498A cases where I represented the woman would hold this deposition of mine in a Court and say "Judge sa'ab, she had admitted that false cases are filed! Is it too much to presume that this is one of those cases?" I was prepared to cry, to hide my face in shame, in fact I had even rehearsed defences for whatever I said if it provoked strong enough reactions:
1. (looking nonchalant) "They just caught me out of Court, man."
2. (looking shocked) "I had no idea that THIS was what he was working towards!"
3. (looking angry) "These people at Star can't get away with this. I'll take them to Court!"
4. (looking lost) "Show? What show?"
Instead, all I got was a phone buzz. It was a message from Boss:
"You were OUTstanding!"
Mixed emotions in the end, but on final analysis, I agree, that all's well that ends well. Sometimes, it's not so bad to lose out on your five minutes of fame.

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