September 23rd, 2016
“I judged her to be cheap, she bought me for Rs 10.”
I was at the family court in Bandra. Do I need to say more in terms of what all this one sentence means?
Well for starters it means you have to have patience, not normal patience but the patience of a monk. If you are there for a divorce hearing it means spending the entire day sitting in front of that one person in the world whose face you do not wish to see ever. It means cutting off from the world for the day as somehow even the internet connections avoid getting into family court. It means avoiding all those angry calls from office because you have not managed to send that one liner email you had promised to send many hours ago. Also added to this, if you suffer from anxiety or anger attacks, it means you should be loaded with emergency medicines. Reason being that is quiet possible that after waiting the entire day they simply might ask you to come another day and reason can be as lame as a judge is busy with some high profile case and your turn won’t come today. You try and argue as much as you wish with the stone-faced peon, btw he is the only one you can speak to, but there is the scope of negotiation. Instead, the next time you come there this peon will invariably remember you and make your life, even more, hell by pushing your file a few notches bellow in the stack.
Today I am here the third consecutive day. So I am sure you have a decent idea of the state I am in. The peon had the look in the eye that said ‘be ready for coming another day. I will take revenge of your outburst of last time’. Cursing myself for loosing patience the last time, I have settled in the only empty metal seat in which the center plank is missing, forcing out few more curses from me to myself for reaching late.
Now at this point, exactly the lady next to me starts talking to me. “Hmm aap toh bohot chotay lagtay ho, divorce kyun karane aaye ho” ( you look so young why already come to the stage of divorce). I answer with a disinterested smile just muttering ‘life aisi hi hai’ and shut my eyes, resting my head behind, basically giving all hints possible that I do not wish to talk.
“Hmmmm Sahi kahan, par aaj kal ke Tum jaisay bachchon mey sabar nahi hai” (you today’s kids have no patience) ” woh dekho wahan” (look there! She said thrice forcing me to open my eyes) showing me her daughter. That’s my daughter she says, she too has no patience I told her divorce is not the right thing to do, society does not accept divorced woman well, but she doesn’t listen.
I try to focus on my phone hoping she would think I am working and leave me alone. I openly ignore her by now, but she continues to talk each time holding my arm demanding my attention. Luckily before I lose my cool the lunch time is declared, but she has to make it difficult, she pleads if she can I come with me for lunch please? I like your company, my daughter is angry with me and also I forgot my purse at home. I mumbled an excuse, something like I am just going out to make office calls and I rush out.
On returning I first peep in to see where that old lady is sitting and start making the right strategy to avoid her. She is sitting in same place, cross legged on the chair, her tattered saree’s dirty hem hanging depressingly, with something in her lap that she was peeling and nibling on, must be peanuts. I luckily see an empty seat between 2 occupied ones and rush towards it and keep my head down on the bag in my lap. There is no way I can tolerated more of her blabbering. No doubt her daughter wasn’t sitting close to her.
More couple of hours pass by, each time I look up I find the lady staring at me and giving me a big smile and waving hard, I manage a weak smile and put my head down yet again. My head was throbbing now, I desperately need a cup of tea but can not leave my seat in fear that my name will be finally called and I will miss my turn. This is the greatest fear one has in a courtroom. The judge definitely does not posses the quality of patience like we do. Anyways, at that very moment like a saviour, the chai wala enters the hall. Ek chai! ek chai! I wave at him from far as his kettle is small and there were too many people here. Luckily he is a nice man and heads straight to me judging my dire need for a cup of tea. Maybe the tight frowns on my forehead are forming the word ‘headache’. ‘Das rupiya chutta dijiye mem’ he clarifies even before filling a cup for me and as this place is a temple of misfortunes, not surprisingly I have no change at all. He didnt have time to wait and moved ahead. I slumped my head back on the bag in my lap.
Mem! Mem! Yeh lijiye chai!” ( Madam take tea) lifting my head up not believing that this offer will last too long I grab the cup and thank him few times over. But he says don’t thank me ‘Amma ne diye aapke chai ke paise’, who is Amma I ask. The old lady who was sitting there. She just left, he said.
Oh! Oh ok!
Where did she go? Her daughter is still sitting here, I ask him feeling the need to thank Amma.
The chai wala starts to tell me about her as if it’s his favourite story –
“That girl? No no, she is not her daughter. Amma has a daughter but five years back amma’s husband divorced her and her daughter and son in law refused to keep her in their house. She has no house now and no relative.
Whenever the weather is too hot or rainy she comes and sits here all day and at night goes to the station and sleeps in the waiting room or platform. She doesn’t trouble anyone so no one stops her here. This was the last place where she had seen her daughter. So she sometimes tends to talk too much to girls who resemble her daughter or sometimes tends to ask the. to take her for lunch, but apart from that, she doesn’t cause any trouble. Sits here all day munching on peanuts for lunch or we sometimes share some food with her.
She never has any money but one thing she has been very particular about, she needs her evening cup of chai every day, she anyhow manages to bring 10 rupees for that. If I offer it for free she never takes it, her pride is important for her.
But Today, first time ever, in last five years I have seen her give away her cup of tea to someone else. you must be resembling her daughter too much I think.”
I wince my eyes thinking so true it is, I don’t know if in looks I resemble her daughter or not but in behaviour I definitely behaved like her daughter.
I wish my court hearing is postponed to another day. I hope it rains that day.
Submitted By:- Mehak Mirza
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