The Obiter Truth: The Age of Incredulous

The Obiter Truth is a catalogue of everyday experiences in the life of a young lawyer hoping to find humour in the bizarre and sense in the chaos.
Manini Brar
Manini Brar

“This is the month of the great astrological alignment”, Kits tells me of December as I guiltily reach for a french fry on the tea-tray between us. “Saturn and Jupiter will cosmically align after 400 years. Astrologers call it The Age of Aquarius, a time of intense energy and elevated self-conscious awareness”.

I have no idea what that means, but the compatriot glint in her eye dissuades me from asking too many questions. To me, all of last year was elevated self-conscious…etc. Day after day of gaping at the same walls and cohabitant or two, eavesdropping on the goings-on of neighbours who were hard to tell apart before the lockdown, fussing over diversionary plots like their car encroached on our parking space by two appalling inches to the right last Saturday. At some point, I was forced to look around at my life and say, ok, this is it. This house, this husband, this dog, this neighbour, this car parking. Now am I happy with it or what?

“So, the energy thing is moving right along, eh?!”, I smile enthusiastically. She clasps her hands together and looks up at the ceiling, “it is what the angels want. Next year is filled with positive energy”.

You mean other than that devil of a virus mutating like Popeye on spinach and the Kangana Ranauts of the world showing no signs of abating either?, I ask. In my head, of course. One mustn’t question the optimism of an astrologer these days, just like one mustn’t speculate on the filters of an Instagram-er. Both are much-needed illusions of well-being in a world reeling with uncertainty and despair. For all my years of oiling the nut with scientific temperament, I have resigned 2020 to the work of the supernatural, what with sinister Chinese experiments and miraculous vaccines cobbled together in record time. Now if someone would just tell me that things will get better, like through some larger-than-life cosmic alignment of faraway planets, hell, I’d pay good money for it! Just like I’d gladly be fooled by Insta posts proclaiming “Christmas spirit” and “positive vibes” upon the turn of a calendar page.

“You think this is a joke, don’t you?”, Kits asks suspiciously with slanted eyes. She’s been coaxing me for this “session” ever since she quit her boss-lady job as Asia head of something-designer to pursue her passion for astrology after the pandemic hit (out of self-conscious awareness, if I might hazard a guess). I sense that if I continue to be my cynical self, after stalling for half a year, I stand to lose a childhood friend in addition to 5,000 Rupees of session fees.

“No, not at all. I can’t wait to bathe in positive energy next year”. Drat. That came out wrong. I reach for another fry.

She snaps my hand mid-journey and sighs. “Ok”, she says, as if accepting a challenge, “let’s see if you can take this seriously. Close your eyes, hold my hand and think of the positive things you see happening in 2021.”

I do as I am told. An unconvinced winter sun gathers up its yellow-white rays from my drawing room and it gets chilly.

“Go ahead. Say something. Anything. Let it out”, she urges.

“Ok, ok. I am thinking…"

Contempt petitions could be a whole new area of practice for me next year. They are easy to put together and very popular with the paparazzi. I am going to spend less time researching social issues for PILs and more time following social media influencers in wait for an obnoxious tweet. If the right tweet comes along, it could really get me noticed, you know, spring-board my practice into the big leagues.

Speaking of social media, I have renewed faith that our courts will continue to be completely beyond its influence. Woman-centric content might be trending on news primetime and Netflix, but there are still only 80 women judges out of 1113 in the High Courts and the Supreme Court. No doubt about it, our judiciary remains blissfully sequestered from all the public fuss around gender equality.

Cockroaches are not alone, Indian clients will also likely mutate to survive any apocalypse. COVID-19 seems only to have affected their ability to pay invoices. In all other matters like unrealistic deadlines and unreasonable call schedules, they seem to have developed an impressive exoskeleton of resilience –

She clutches my hands with brute force, I open my eyes ah-ah-ing in pain.

“Stop it! Stop being incredulous. Be serious”, she says with exasperation, “otherwise, I am going”, and makes a show of zipping up her purse.

“I am being serious”, I protest. “I’m telling you what’s coming to my mind, like you asked. I can’t help it if my world is full of incredulous things!”

“Forget about this legal profession nonsense. Focus on you. What do you want for yourself in 2021?”, she takes my hands again. “Come on, do it properly, otherwise I’m out of here”.

“Got it!"

I want to focus on my top half more than my bottom half, for sure, if virtual courts are here to stay post-pandemic like the Parliamentary Standing Committee has recommended. Need to flex the ol’ eyebrows and exercise the ol’ jawline daily, probably even beef up the shoulders for a good mug-shot.

As far as I am concerned, virtual courts are great news ‘cause I get to keep my afternoon naps. God, those 25, no 40, ok - let’s say 60 max, minutes of thoughtless slumber somewhere between 2 pm and 4 pm! My mornings have so much purpose now, and the delight of fluttering back to life afterwards to find the world unaffected by my absence - it is liberating, like a rebirth!

If I could also somehow acquire a spot of Jeff Bezos’ luck alongside a fine upper-half and a daily siesta – you know, be in the right place at the right time - that would be topping! Haven’t you marvelled at the guy’s stars at some point this year? I mean –“

Her hands are no longer holding mine. I steal a glance through one eye and see her towering over me, bag on shoulder.

“What now?” I complain. “How much more positive do you want me to be?”

“You’re incapable of earning the love of the angels”, she throws over her shoulder.

She’s out the door before I can point out that the angels would be mighty disappointed by her negative energy towards me right now.

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