Poem | Bishweshwar Das

Courtroom (1970), Oil on canvas
Source : http://www.artpractical.com/

An autumn day in court...

It was a crisp October morning,
A film of dew on parked cars
I dressed ethnic
And hailed an auto
A long festive weekend elapsed city
Slowly crawling back to work on Monday

The auto snails ahead
In between filling gas in an alley with an illegal vending shop
Sleepy eyes, somber faces
I have had a trim and brushed twice
Lest his honour holds me for contempt of good mannerism and hygiene
It’s been on the anvil for six months now
Earn your freedom week by week, month by month…perhaps

The auto meandered through Siddaiah Road.
Grease, iron, lube and auto parts both sides
Less friction more power
A while back I had seen hoards queuing outside the passport office
A gargantuan building emerges in the left
A familiar gate….with family court etched in steel

I alighted and look for a familiar face
She is on the third floor came the reply as the call disconnects
The lift has a third button but it doesn’t glow red when pressed
It stops religiously on the appointed level
There she  is….looking bit worn out,
perhaps she didn’t sleep well or worked late
Mister Meer strolls in, we exchange cold pleasantries.
His coat looks little crumpled but his hair is neatly cut and gelled
He could have been an army captain in uniform instead of a divorce lawyer
I am fiddling through my phone to zero on a date for the mediation, we decide on sixth
This looks more like a trading house sans the commotion

His honour grabs a piece of paper and the petition number is announced by the clerk
Mr.Meer raises his voice acknowledging it’s his case
The Judge looks through his spectacles and frowns
“Any hopes of reconciliation.” ?
‘No my honor, the parties have decided. No reconciliation.’
Meers voice is clear and mellow this time.
He undoubtedly is  the best looking man in this room
The judge queries….”Why mediation if it’s agreed”
Meer just says…”Obliged”

We meander out and Meer blurts..
‘It will be over today…
You will have to come again in the afternoon’
Seconds, minutes, hours
The courtroom is packed
We are ushered in
Meer nudges me to take off my ‘Raybans’
She mumbles something too disapprovingly

We go up the pulpit facing the judge to our right now
Meer towers amongst the spectators below
His Honour first quizzes her
‘Difference of opinion’ she says softly yet firmly
Who doesn’t have ? His Honour responds
He now looks towards me. I nod in unison
Which can mean either agreeing to her answer or his retort

There is silence for a while
The courtroom is in suspended motion
His Honour breaks silence…Well then ‘Granted’
There is a ‘sigh’ of relief and resilience in us
Meer shakes my hand in a congratulatory gesture
While tying the lace of his green file
‘If you need my service again I will be glad’
We all smile and enter the lift, exit
And walk past the mediation room and the waiting hall

Dusk is settling slowly
The day elapsing in a cacophony of noises
People rushing back to their destinations
I start humming a familiar ‘old blue boy tune’

We're drinking my friend, to the end
Of a brief episode
Make it one for my
for my baby
And one more for the road

You'd never know it, but buddy I'm a kind of poet
And I've got a lot of things I'd like to say
And if I'm gloomy, please listen to me
Till it's talked away

 Make it one for my
for my baby
And one more for the road…

We're drinking my friend, to the end
of a brief episode… waltz… waltz... waltz! 

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