Thursday, 11 July 2013

'Laa' (Law) Chronicles and Happiness Aboard!

Choti Mata’s Note: This might look like a random piece of personal musings (ego-centric written version of a selfie fuelled by misplaced megalomania is more accurate—but I will stick to ‘musings’). But in spirit being a blog by Choti Mata, there is a takeaway. Who knows, this might just be that one thought which is about to change your life. Or add to your vast repertoire of Facebook like feel good gyaan. Either way, it might be worthwhile. So try to hang on till the end.

I am a lawyer. By qualification anyways. And this is a declaration that meets with a variety of responses. The most common one being “You mean a liar”, followed by a loud guffaw with a presumption, I presume , that it is something I have never heard before.

I had joined law school a couple of years ago when law schools and their associate perks (read—fat paychecks) were just about gaining some ground in students’ or rather their parents’ imaginations. One of the most memorable reactions to my decision came from an acquaintance back in my mother’s hometown—a smallish town in remote MP.

“You are doing ‘laa’!”,he exclaimed pointedly, “then we are all in the same profession!”. There was hardly anything remarkable about the statement as such until it was followed by this man’s ceremonial departure—in a tattered black coat on a forlorn bicycle that had long outlived its extinction date. I still remember the queasy feeling that refused to go for the next couple of weeks.

My misgivings vanished almost instantly once I landed in NALSAR, Hyderabad. Apart from the fact that it was and still is, the second best National Law School in the country (latest ratings will of course dispute this fact, but all of us know the truth, don’t we?), I think the sprawling campus and the apparent lavishness had a lot to do with my suddenly uplifted spirits.

They were eventful 5 years—my stay at the law school. But I will breeze over that part. I think we owe one to Chetan Bhagat for inspiring an entire generation of closet writers to come out in open. Considering that all the campus tales are about as unique as Karan Johar's directorial outings, I don't have to waste this precious blogspace in narrating my tale. I can and will simply direct you to the latest campus 'bestseller' on the stands.

The squirming soul of recently demised literary merit notwithstanding, there is a larger benefit of this trend--the benefit of having the stories out. And stories, no matter how much they induce the gag reflex in a discerning reader, are always good. They prevent the societies from closing their eyes and ears to the truth and imagination of their times.

Non-literary merits of campus stories aside, I will cut straight to the end of my tale. The part where every law student’s five years of mostly zero productive law school stay is validated by –wait for it—a job! A couple of zeroes in your paycheck is all that is required to establish you as a worthwhile member of your family and a legitimate part of the society—all your previous existential sins conveniently forgotten.

Zeroes and all were fine—blinding enough for me to not be able to realize initially that my law firm existence was hardly any different from that man on his tattered cycle. Except of course I had money. And he had a life.

Inevitably, I quit!

Which is not to say that it was the only way to happiness (more on that later). Which is also not to say that I always put myself to good use henceforth. For one, the zeroes took serious offence and went totally missing. The paychecks persisted—for a while. But of late, I seem to have offended their ilk as well.

But I have been happy. Surprising as it may sound (or not, depending on your self help general knowledge), it is a state of mind that does not concern itself with the state of my bank account. I found a job I loved, made enough to pull through decently and spent some great time, at a great place, with great people.

And then I quit—again. This time, not because I was unhappy; but because I was happy. Happy enough to make some quick introspection and take some more risks.

Has it paid well? I don’t know. Too soon. At the moment, I have lost myself in the wilderness of the unknown. And I repeat, I am happy—which I guess is a good sign.

In the spirit of my sobriquet and the note above, I will conclude this post with a point. And the point of this slightly long winded post is just this—life and happiness had obviously nothing to do with either my law school degree or the zeroes on my paycheck. It was in fact a ridiculous idea to actually think that zeroes could bring me happiness. They were after all zeroes. 

Most of us know this. And this post is essentially a pointless reiteration of information that is about as pervading as Facebook.

In a sense, our tryst with happiness and its core ingredients is like Indian legal system. Everyone knows about it. But no one bothers with implementation. And that is why this point needs to be made despite its ubiquitous existence.

Even if zeroes do matter in our pragmatic existence, they still need the validation of a happy existence. A validation that is largely ignored, overlooked or simply glossed over.  Law firm or for that matter any other place in the world, is a great place to be, so long as you manage to be happy. But if you can’t, no matter where you are and what you do, it is still going to be an increasingly lost cause—an almost childish attempt to convince yourself and everyone else of a false sense of well being. If you can really survive the facade for the rest of your life, it is all fine. But if you can’t, you must remember—there is always a choice.

Your choice!

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