Smita Das Jain

Drama Romance Thriller


Smita Das Jain

Drama Romance Thriller

War and Peace

War and Peace

6 mins

“You have killed a man. You have snatched away a young life before it could flourish. You cannot be allowed to escape its consequences.”

“Objection. It has not been established that my client has killed the old beggar. The Prosecutrix is being preposterous.”

 The two opposing counsels glared at each other. Both of them had their claws out to protect the interests of their respective clients.

It was the first hearing of the State of Maharashtra vs Nana Pednekar case in the Sessions Court. Pragati and Kunal were on the opposite side of the fence, not for the first time.

“Objection sustained.” The judge’s gavel thundered on his table, the noise ricocheting across the sparsely crowded courtroom.

A speeding SUV had hit a beggar sleeping on a pavement at night. Kunal was trying to prove that it was an accident and not a deliberate crime, while Pragati sought the strictest possible punishment for murder.

Pragati turned her attention back to the man on the accused box. Cowering in the stand, his stocky body barely reaching above the same, the youth looked more of a boy than a man.

“On the night of 19th January last week, when the incident happened, where were you coming from?”

“From a party at a friend’s place,” the youth whispered, intimidated by the formidable Public Prosecutrix.

“And where were you headed to in such a tearing hurry?”

“I was returning home. It was close to midnight, and I had a splitting headache. Finding the streets deserted, I applied the accelerator in order to reach home soon. I didn’t realise I was speeding,” the youth pleaded.

“Why were you driving the car in that headache?”

“I didn’t have one when I started. Halfway, my head started to feel heavy.”

“Did you have a drink too many at the party?” Pragati barked.

“Objection, My Lord.” Kunal got up from his seat. “My capable friend is making an insinuation here.”

“What insinuation? Pragati directly took on Kunal. This is a simple question. I am trying to get the facts.”

“Your job is to establish facts, not to browbeat my client to manufacture one,” Kunal countered.

“How dare you?” Pragati walked briskly from the side of the accused box towards the counsel’s table where Kunal stood. “Unlike you, I don’t pass fiction as facts.”

“Objection. You cannot resort to personal attacks.”

“But you do have the license to attack me personally, trying to say that I manufacture facts! Just because I am a woman?”

“Order, order.” The judge yelled in desperation. His nightmare was turning out to be true.

He was filled with dread upon seeing a case listed with these two as the lawyers on his roster. The idea of recusing himself had crossed his mind, but he could not think of a suitable reason. Since the last five years, he had presided over many cases with these two on the opposite sides of the table.

Pragati and Kunal looked at the bench.

“Kindly stick to the facts in your arguments, both of you,” the judge warned, “and don’t enter into a personal slanging contest else I will hold both of you in contempt.”

Kunal exchanged a venomous glance with Pragati before sitting back on his chair.

Pragati moved towards the accused box to resume her questioning.

“Were you drunk while driving the car?” she asked.

“I had a few small pegs at the party, yes. But I was not drunk while driving,” the youth replied.

“A few small pegs, I see,” Pragati repeated. Then she ambled towards her desk to pick up a piece of paper.

“Your Honour,” Pragati said while motioning the clerk of the court to take the paper from her hand, “A few small pegs, as the accused puts it here, amounts to 92 mg of alcohol per 100ml blood as per the Blood Alcohol Content lab results. More than three times the permissible limit.”

The gasps and sniffles were audible in the thinly populated room, especially from the side where the accused’s parents sat. Had the court been filled to capacity, pandemonium would have broken out.

“What is your age?” Pragati turned her attention back to the accused box.

“Objection, Your Honour. Irrelevant,” Kunal said half-heartedly.

“It is very relevant, Your Honour. You will see the significance once the accused replies to the question.”

“Overruled. Please respond to the Prosecutrix’s question,” the judge directed the accused.

“I will turn eighteen in another five days,” the youth responded.

“A minor, Your Honour. A minor drunk driver. The statistics of road deaths and accidents would be much less intimidating in our country if affluent parents didn’t indulge their children’s whims and fancies. In this case, this young man’s parents are equally to blame for entrusting their shiny new SUV to this spoilt brat. The court needs to set an example here by punishing the parents as much as their wayward child,” Pragati thundered.

“Objection, Your Honour. The parents are not on trial here,” the defence counsel said.

“Sustained. And yet the point of Prosecutrix is not without merit. The court is adjourned for the day. We will hear the closing arguments of the case tomorrow.”

Kunal sighed. It had been a long day.

Can’t wait to reach home, have a bath and eat the hot meal prepared by my wife,’ he thought.

Pragati sighed, tired after a long day.

Now I have to go home and cook a meal for my family. I hope to get time to take a nice hot bath before that,’ she thought.

The judge sighed. It was a tedious and tumultuous day.

‘I want to go home and rest,’ he thought.

An enticing aroma greeted Kunal when he reached home later in the evening. As usual, he had worked out in the neighbourhood gym to take the work pressures off his mind before heading home. He would have taken a bath first, but for his aroused taste buds.

“Darling,” he called. “Will your scrumptious dinner take time, or can I have some now?”

“If you wait for five minutes, dinner will be served,” a mellifluous reply came out from the kitchen. Kunal could not but marvel at his wife’s culinary skills and speed.

How can she whip up delicacies in the kitchen after a long day at work, day after day? I am a lucky husband.

Sounds of utensils emanated from the kitchen before Pragati emerged with the food tray laden with serving bowls. Kunal immediately got up to help his wife with the dinner table.

“You beat the hell out of me today,” he said to Pragati and looked at her. Her long hair tied into a bun, her eyes shone with the satisfaction of work well done. She appeared radiant and younger than the day five years ago when he had married her.

Pragati gave her husband a peck on the cheek. “It is a difficult case to defend. I am sure you will have better luck next time.” Her husband was brilliant at what he did, and she was sure that she wouldn’t have an easy day the next time against him.

“Father, dinner is served,” Pragati called out once the table was laid.

The door from the room on the far right opened, and Kunal’s father came out. With his wide-rimmed glasses and spotless white shirt and trouser combo, he didn’t look much different from his appearance at the court, where he was presiding over the State of Maharashtra vs Nana Pednekar case.

He looked at his son and daughter-in-law as they patiently waited for him to join them. It was difficult to imagine that they were at each other’s throats a few hours back.

War and Peace seemed to be two sides of the same coin, as far as his family was concerned.

“After you, Your Honour,” Pragati said as the three sat down for a family meal.

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