The day was Friday the 13th 2013. The Surana & Surana National Trial Advocacy Moot North India Rounds was about to kick off here at RGNUL. I was excited for this day. Just about 2 months into law school and I was about to witness my first ever national level moot. And not only witness it but actually get to be a witness in the case. I looked forward to the 18 law schools coming in from all over the North.
Now let’s rewind a few weeks back.
A regular day in class when a teacher tells us the names of some amazing seniors in RGNUL. Somehow the name of Aparajita Roy Paul stuck with me. That evening, laptop in front of me, hers was the only name I could remember. As it is with all things in the internet one thing led to another and before I knew it I had her Blog, LinkedIn and Facebook opened in multiple tabs.
Her public facebook profile showed only a few cover photo updates with some beautiful thoughts captioned in by her. Next, I moved on to her LinkedIn profile. My first reaction- WOW! She had done such amazing things. I mean you name it and she’s done it! As I glimpsed over the contents of her profile I thought she would definitely be a 5th year student.
Then I took a closer look and there it read “Batch of 2015”. To achieve all that in just 3 years of law school!? I was amazed. I never would have thought of doing so much and doing it so well in 5 years of law school, let alone 3. I excitedly showed her profile to a few friends sitting in the room at that time.
Her achievements made me feel happy, made me feel good. It instilled a sense of positivity in me. Gave me a renewed sense of hope. It was sort of a brilliant road-map of all the things you can do in law school and beyond. I was inspired. People often asked me “Prerit tu kis se Prerit hai?”
Finally, I could say that I’m inspired by someone-Aparajita. I made a LinkedIn account for myself and shot of a connection request to her with a message saying how I’d heard about her and that I’d love to be part of her network. To be honest I was slightly intimidated by her professional clout but nevertheless sent her the request. She accepted a couple of days later.
The next day in class I heard about her blog again from a teacher and so decided to start reading it that evening. For the next few days I was consumed with the Freshers’ Intra Moot, reading her magnificent blog every once in a while when I needed to take a few minutes break from researching.
Come September and I thought I’d reach out to her one of these days. You know for all the help and valuable insight she could provide. A few days of September passed when on the 11th I saw an update on the RGNUL Intranet saying she was in urgent need of O +ve blood and that those who had the same contact the undersigned. The next morning I found out that she had contracted dengue and had been hospitalized.
And the day after i.e. the 13th, she passed away early in the morning.
It all seemed wrong. Unbelievable (It still is). How could she die? What kind of a cruel joke was god playing? Our VC called us at 4 in the afternoon, announced her demise, observed a 2 minute silence and cancelled the inauguration ceremony of the Surana & Surana National Trial Advocacy Moot. I performed my part in the moot with a strange feeling of loss.
On the evening of 14th a memorial service was held for her in the academic block. Her parents, little brother & other family members came too. Her batch mates, juniors and seniors spoke about her, applauded her personality, character, hard work etc. They said memorable and funny stories and experiences they shared with her. The atmosphere was intense. Emotional. Heavy. Many of us teary eyed while her mother spoke at the end.
Coming back from the memorial service that day I walked in silence. Racing slightly ahead of a couple of friends. My head confirming something which somehow my heart already knew.
Amidst all the chaos of law school, I’d forgotten how beautiful this place looked sometimes. But every now and then when I look at the academic block, when I look at the health centre, when I look at the girls hostel, when I take a walk in the campus I am reminded of the agony of her parents, the colossal waste of talent, the feeling that I won’t see her in campus. Ever. Just can’t shake this feeling. But the rule of life is that the show must go on-now or someday in the future, with or without someone. This could be the best part of life. But also the worst.
I wonder every now and then. Why do I feel so bad? Surely, I’ve seen death before. I’ve heard of people in school die too. Then why does this experience feel so different? Why does it have a much stronger impact on me? The answer, probably, lying in some cryptic psychology jargon. But I think that’s what a mark of a true genius is. To inspire people, to touch lives without even being actively present in them.
A family lost its loving member, her friends lost an irreplaceable friend, RGNUL lost its most brilliant student, India lost a great would be legal luminary. And I sort of lost my inspiration. And while she is no more, her impact on our lives still lives on.