Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Past Perfect- I

On that nippy December evening, soon after the law school became bereft of girls, twenty-four starry eyed law students set out on a mission. While some of them were exuberant with zeal, others followed what came to be known as ‘class orders’. Though it lacked the seriousness of a military operation, the enthusiasm some of our men displayed, gave it all the sanctity one would normally associate with a highly classified rescue operation. But for a serious lapse on part of our intelligence unit, it could have been a different story altogether. Before you jump the gun, I’ll throw some light on the backdrop. The mission objective was to watch the late night show of a movie which, as we were to discern later, had lived up to its name.
When all the occupants of a boys’ hostel (we were the only occupants of our hostel then) at a national law school decide to stay out in the face of a 9:00 PM deadline, the complications that follow are nothing but inevitable. While almost half way into our operation, as one marathon song followed another, and as a volley of dialogues over powered our senses, two of us panicked and deserted the troop. I realized that in naming the movie ‘LoC’, the producer was referring to the minimum level of patience the audience was expected to have. And certainly, I fell way short.

As we returned to our base (read the hostel), the watchman welcomed us with an extraordinary smile. Before I could deduce his intentions, the sight of an unseen lock on the door of my flat sent several chills down my 18 year old spine. I realized that the authorities had been tipped off and the stealth operation was never that covert after all. By now, the watchman’s smile had widened even as his eyes shone with sarcasm.
We immediately contacted the troop and informed them about this unexpected development. For that already exhausted lot, the news came like a bolt from the blue. Amidst the heavy artillery fire, it was almost as if a hand grenade came out of the screen. They abandoned the mission and ran towards the hostel. It was late in the night and yet most of them were fortunate enough to find transportation for returning back. However, some of our men were scattered all over the battlefield (read the movie theater) and were so deep in action that they could not even be informed about the happenings at the base. They withstood the entire onslaught with unparallel courage and resolution. After the movie finally got over, these men were rewarded for their gallant effort when they failed to find any conveyance and had to walk all the way from Shyam Talkies to the Boys’ Hostel at 1’clock in the night. Meanwhile, back at the hostel, the rest of the troop was getting ready for spending the night, out in the cold. As we deliberated over our further course of action in the dead of that night, the ambience reflected that of a night on the warfront. By the time the last group arrived, we had given up our hope of the warden showing up.
Just as we started preparing to sleep outside, one of our valiant men showed qualities of a highly trained combatant and successfully infiltrated a flat through its constricted bathroom window. Soon, the backdoor of that flat flung wide open. If only the warden knew about the high level of competence some of our men possessed! As our men started taking refuge in that flat, the watchman gaped in helplessness. Nevertheless, most of us decided to take on the challenge and opted to stay out. Some braved the night on the planks lying in the watchman’s room while some others cuddled inside a small enclosure in the verandah (which was later used to house the water cooler). If the grueling night wasn’t enough, the next morning witnessed us getting castigated by the warden who felt it necessary to subject us to an excruciatingly lengthy sermon on how our action was “so unbecoming of national law school students.”
One could have treated that day as just another bad one. However, while facing such music, if one is conscious of the fact that he is still wearing clothes he had put on more than twenty four hours ago, the possibility of taking things lightly goes into the oblivion. And all this for a goddamned movie! All twenty- four of us were made to write apology letters. I can still recall the contents of mine.
The day was 26th of December, 2003 and we were barely twenty days into our law school lives. We broke the law and deserved to be punished. Nevertheless, now that we are some 70 odd days away from becoming lawyers, I realize that there is no point in studying so much of law in the first place if one can’t- at times- take it in his or her own hands!



It’s been almost five years. The warden referred to above, is the present warden for Boys at National Law School, Bangalore. And till date, we have no love lost for him. This would hopefully be followed by memoirs on other pleasant happenings at law school. Watch this space!