“The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
Awaits alike the inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.”
(Thomas Gray In Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard)
When I was in school days these lines by poet Thomas Gray left an indelible impression on my mind’s landscape. I always wondered about its real purport. Now very recently when I heard about the tragic death of Mr. S.M.A. Kazmi, senior lawyer, Allahabad High Court, in a fatal road accident it not only left me in a state of deep shock but also made me realize the true purport of lines penned by Gray. In this world the only reality is death! Rest is illusion which looks real enough to keep humans trapped in life’s drama!
I met S M A Kazmi very shortly after Allahabad University granted me a law degree in year 2002. Although I was not pretty interested in getting enrolled as a lawyer at Allahabad High Court in prime of my life, I had to give way to destiny’s will of becoming part of Allahabad High Court- a High Court having a glorious legacy of delivering path-breaking judgements on par with global standards! I was fortunate that one of my childhood friends, Sampanna Kumar Srivastava, also a lawyer, and in those days a student leader associated with Communist Party, introduced me to Mr Kazmi in his chamber. I had by then carved a niche for myself in the world of media as a freelancer. Mr. Kazmi was a lawyer with a difference. He was a good orator besides being a good writer who enjoyed organizing literary gatherings. So he was quite happy in finding someone like me having similar mental orientations akin to his literary bent of mind.
In very short span of time I became one of his favourite juniors. I loved his penchant for perfectionism. His aggressive mannerism really threatened others but on me it had little impact. Like him I believed in working hard and, therefore, rarely felt short of his expectations. And that did not provide enough space to Mr. Kazmi to direct his anger towards me. He always believed that if one wishes to emerge as a good lawyer at High Court level then one must be ready to read enough besides being good at interpretation! It’s really saddening that emerging lawyers are merely interested in attaining riches than attaining right skills! As a result of that most of the lawyers fail to attain great heights in real sense!
That was not the case with Mr. Kazmi. He came from a teacher’s family with no previous legal history in his family. However, his legal journey which began in early 80s saw all glorious episodes which any lawyer wishes in his/her career. In prime of his age he became Advocate General of Uttar Pradesh, and later became politically active which yielded him ministerial birth. Every successful person has many adversaries in form of friends! He too had many such friends who said good words in his front but despised him at his back being always loaded with set of conspiracies. He warned me that I should not waste my energy in forming counter-strategies to negate such vicious network! The best way to defeat negative souls in your profession is to keep doing exceptional work. That sort of attitude demoralizes negative souls! At this point I come to remember words of Indira Gandhi that there are many who wish to take credit in aftermath of any successful endeavour, but competition is less when it comes to do some original work!
Anyway, relationship between juniors and seniors has plummeted to all-time low. However, the juniors associated with Mr. Kazmi had better experiences and not bitter experiences. The ones who worked hard always managed to strike a favourable chord with both his personal and professional life. He did not believe in carrying aura of bossism but ensured that his leniency does not get misused. I must admit that he helped me financially besides making me in tune with various shades of advocacy. His chamber was not a dull place! Besides dealing with complex cases, the young lawyers also got introduced with lifestyle mired in royalty. The weekends were reserved for having a good time at some famous restaurant. He believed in spending money with people around instead of using the money to ensure petty personal gains. That’s why he was sincerely involved with several charitable trusts operating in Allahabad.
He was not happy with my decision to distance from legal profession for he was quite satisfied with my progress. He saw in me the rare attributes which had now gone missing. That’s why he lamented that people who should be really part of legal institutions are the ones engaged in different profession and the ones who are not supposed to be lawyers are the ones dominating the show at various legal institutions! Legal profession is now in grip of mediocre minds! He understood my temperament well, and, therefore, did not compel me to remain engaged in active advocacy. However, I did not wish to hurt his sentiments and, therefore, to honour his sentiments I remained part of Allahabad High Court via my legal reporting! I assured him that great values I intercepted at his chamber would always stay with me for rest of the life.
Indeed, right now when his death has left me in deep pain, side-by-side there exists a deep sense of satisfaction encircled by great mental peace within! I added a new dimensions in the values I inherited at his chamber. Happily, my friends never forgot that I was one of the juniors of Mr Kazmi! Their remembrance of my association with Mr Kazmi keeps me in right state of mind, enabling me to pursue different legal tasks with greater concentration and greater degree of perfection. Mr Kazmi believed that hard work never goes in vain and that has ensured I remain above short cuts to attain success! Yes, he had many flaw in his personality, like any soul trapped in earthly life, but the greater truth is that they took a backseat when contrasted against his noble virtues! His soul might have ascended to higher world, but for mine eyes he would always remain as real as any living person! May his soul rest in peace!