The day starts with what must be the finest aroma in this city. Morning in Dadar, and especially Plaza Cinema: the delicate freshness of green vegetables, the sweet pungency of coriander. I have to wait for a while for Arun whom I'm supposed to meet, but bathed in this fragrance, I don't mind.
He turns up, and takes me to the second floor of a nearby building to meet his lawyer. Between 9 and 915, the lawyer had said. We're on time; he doesn't arrive till 1020.
Time to catch up on five years. Arun is the younger brother I mentioned here. His lawyer is trying to see through an insurance claim for the man whom I found on the highway five years ago. The insurer has contested the claim, and the judge hearing the case has asked me, the only eyewitness to the accident, to appear. There have been several hearings so far, and Arun has turned up for each one, taking leave from his job each time.
The rest of the day after the lawyer, we're in court. The aroma this time, I do mind. Urine. All day.
And the courtroom is lined with hundreds, possibly thousands, of dusty case papers. On shelves, in cupboards, on tables, on the floor. A short stocky woman with thick glasses above a stern mouth spends all day moving case papers from one resting place to another, mostly across the room. On one of those trips, she hisses at me: "What's this? You can't read here!"
Nothing is happening in court -- nothing happens all morning, because we are waiting for a lawyer -- the judge himself is reading, there are two women on chairs in front of me actually sleeping. But no, I must not read. She catches me at it again, an hour later, and admonishes me silently but forcefully from across the room.
After lunch, half an hour before the judge returns, I try once more. Court's not even in session, surely reading should be OK? She's on me before I've completed a page. "I told you twice, don't read!"
I ask, remembering the two women, is it OK if I sleep? "That's fine. Just don't read!"
I'm left with nothing to distract me from the fragrance of urine. Quite a change from Plaza this morning.
My time in the witness box comes and goes. The lawyer, the opposing lawyer and the judge confer and decide on the next date. Three weeks hence. Arun has had no say in this. I have no idea whether my appearance today has helped; is he any closer to getting his money?
But before I leave, glorying in the fresh Bombay air, he says to me: I'm sorry you had to waste your time.
Seems I've heard that before.
More about this, soon.