(This is a true story of a close acquaintance. I have changed the names and professions of the characters and the location where the story took place.)
“Leader of the opposition is summing up his party's position on the motion. He is the last speaker. After this, the Rajya Sabha members will vote on the motion……a historical motion indeed…..” The TV reporter was talking non-stop.
Poorani had been glued to the 24x7 news channel for the past one hour. Kalai Arasi, her elder daughter noticed the palpable tension in Poorani’s face. She took Poorani’s hand and gave a gentle press to signify psychological support.
The channel took a commercial break.
Poorani closed her eyes and reclined on the sofa. Tears rolled down her eyes.
“Champagam Dorairajan…a Brahmin girl; married at a young age; brilliant in studies….was denied a seat in Medical College. Why? Because she was born in a Brahmin family. The communal G.O of the then Madras Government….” Poorani was arguing against reservations in the annual inter college debate.
“Exactly….she was born in a caste which had oppressed, which had kept the rest of India in its wraps for centuries…. exactly these considerations weighed with the law makers when they introduced Article 15 (4) to provide for reservation….if judges, who are far removed from masses, whose only claim is intellectual supremacy can indulge in parochial interpretation of the Constitution…..” Samudram, a student of the Madras Law College intervened and argued for reservation.
Though she was ready with Justice H R Khanna’s caution against the dangers of indiscriminate, liberal construction of the Constitution, she held back. She noticed the fire in his eyes. His hands were shaking in anger. He must have suffered humiliation. He must be a Dalit. She felt that the harsh reality in his argument far outweighed the academic perfection in hers.
He won the debate. She congratulated him.
“Did you lose the debate intentionally the other day?” They had started meeting each other for the past one month.
“Yes and no” replied Poorani.
“What does that mean?”
“I had arguments to counter yours. But I did not put forward the same….”
“That means you lost deliberately….”
“No…even if I had put them forward, I would have lost before the force in your
“Not at all…you are being too humble…..please tell me the truth …. Why did you lose….”He took her hand as he was talking.
“For this only….” She blushed.
His daughter was in love with a Dalit boy!
Kailasam could not stand that. Kailasam was not an orthodox Brahmin. But he was not that ‘liberal’, that ‘progressive’ as to agree for his daughter’s marriage with a Dalit boy.
Rajam rushed to him with a glass of water. Rajam’s hands trembled. She knew Poorani well. If she made up her mind once, she would not change. Did she not know that her decision would affect Janaki, her younger sister’s marriage prospects as well?
Poorani listened to their arguments patiently; politely answered all of them.
But she would not change her mind.
Samudram and Poorani married in the Registrar’s office. Kailasam and Rajam signed as reluctant witnesses.
They both started working in Adept Chambers, a leading law firm in Chennai.
Samudram got a job as Government Pleader within a couple of years under the SC/ST quota.
“The chairman of the Rajya has adjourned the House for an hour. Thereafter the voting on the motion will take place….We promise to bring you all the action…..” shouted the TV reporter. Poorani went to the kitchen and prepared coffee for her and Kalai Arasi.
As she sipped, she plunged into the flashback again.
Janaki came and helped Poorani when she delivered the elder daughter. Frustrated with embarrassing questions from the prospective bridegrooms' side, Janaki decided to remain a spinster.
Samudram took the child to the Chief Minister who named her Kalai Arasi. For Kailasam and Rajam, Kalai Arasi was still Alamelu, the Brahmin name they had kept.
When Poorani delivered their second daughter a couple of years later, Samudram told her to quit her job.
“Vaayya Samudram….vaa (Weclome, Samudram),” The Chief Minister threw his hand around Samudram’s shoulder and invited him. Poorani who had accompanied him to the party felt awkward.
The CM had thrown a party to celebrate the acquittal of his brother from a murder case the previous day. Samudram who led the prosecution team had sought his conviction and lost the case!
How could the CM welcome a prosecutor so happily who lost his government’s case!
“I am buying this bungalow,” said a jubilant Samudram while he took Poorani around the two storey building in Gandhi Nagar, Adayar the next day.
‘This bungalow would cost not less than Rs. 2 Crores. Barely 10 years into the job as Government Pleader, how did he manage to buy such a posh building?’ wondered Poorani.
Samudram’s name figured in the list of 5 new judges appointed to Madras High Court in 2002. Governor of the State and Chief Justice of Madras High Court had recommended his name.
Samudarm threw a grand party to celebrate his appointment. He invited the Chief Minister and other leading members of the ruling party which raised many eyebrows in the media.
Samudram purchased 2 acres of land in Perungudi in the name of Kalai Arasi.
The Tamilnadu Government allotted 22 acres of prime land at a throw away price to a trust run by Chief Minister’s son-in-law. A concerned NGO filed a PIL in the Madras High Court challenging the allotment.
A three member bench, of which Samudarm was one, dismissed the petition.
Samudram purchased another 5 acres of land in Sriperumpudur in his 2nd daughter’s name. A concerned Poorani tried to talk to him.
“Will you please shut up? Did I ask for your advice?” said an obviously irritated Samudram.
Where was the Samudram she had known in 1980s- the principled Samudram, the loving Samudram?
Poorani was ashamed to share her concern with her parents.
When a collegium duly constituted by the Chief Justice of India recommended his name for promotion to Supreme Court in 2008, all the hell broke.
A Civil Society group wrote to the Chief Justice and President alleging corruption on the part of Samudram and seeking his removal. Samudram countered that since he was a Dalit, he was being victimized by the higher caste Civil Society.
Very soon 62 members of the Rajya Sabha brought a motion to impeach him.
Samudram made a spirited argument in the Rajya Sabha in his defence.
“The Chairman has announced voting on the impeachment motion….members are casting their votes…..”
Poorani closed her eyes tightly. Losing the job may not affect them financially. But the ignominy of being booted out of office, that too first time in the history of the country through an impeachment motion…..
“For those viewers who joined us late, voting is in progress…. In another five minutes we will get the results…five more minutes of nail biting wait…..”
Poorani was waiting......