You can read Part 1 here.
“Sorry… Pardon my sorr… Pardon… my ignorance, your lordship!”
Why have I said this? I should’ve covered it up with some or the other point. I should have spoken it positively. What’s wrong with me? I should have at least waited till I received the note from Vaibhav.
“Pardoned. Please continue with the next issue,” said the bench. I cleared my throat in rue. I wished I could turn back in time, but the damage was already done. I had received the note from Vaibhav after all. But now, time was lapsing. I moved on to the next issue.
“Yes, your lordship. My client has been residing…,” I proceeded with the second issue.
“Last two minutes,” said the court officer. Last two minutes? But it felt like I had just started my argument a few seconds back. I still had one more issue to argue. I was messing everything up.
“…. So I pray your lordship to grant relief to my client in the mentioned issues. Speaker 2 of our team would continue with the other issues with your permission,” I said finally.
My mind was full of thoughts as I’m walking towards my seat. I looked away. I was unable to look into Vaibhav’s eyes. I had this sense of guilt poking my inner self. My mind repeated, “you’ve messed it up,” several times.
Vaibhav was different. At least to me, he didn’t look timorous. He seemed confident while he’s speaking. To my surprise, he started with the 3rd issue that I failed to argue due to the lapse of time. He was answering all the questions posed by the bench. I was checking the clock now and then with anxiety.
Vaibhav’s speech was swift but precise. It reminded me of our oral practice sessions, where he focussed more on questioning than answering. Now I realized. He expected the majority of questions asked by the bench and prepared to answer. He started addressing the last issue.
“Counsel, could you please explain why we can’t see the citation of the case laws you referred to in the last issue?” asked the bench. What? There must be some misunderstanding. Vaibhav and I had divided the issues. He had drafted the arguments of the last two issues. He was specific about every detail he put in the memorial. He did not rush while researching and preparing.
Maybe I was wrong. Everyone, at some point, makes mistakes. Vaibhav, even though he tried to be perfect, missed out on citations.
I could see his startled eyes staring at the bench. I opened the memorial to check. There I saw it. Yes. The citation was missing. Along with mine, I should’ve done the proofreading of Vaibhav’s issues also. But I never anticipated this mistake as Vaibhav is usually meticulous when it comes to drafting the arguments.
“Do you have any explanation, counsel?” asked the bench. It sounded a little sarcastic. Vaibhav’s eyes were still stuck to the memorial. I could see his ears turning red.
“Pardon my error, your lordship. I’d like to request your lordship to please refer to page 29…” he continued with the last issue. “Last two minutes,” said the court officer. Vaibhav started rushing. He skipped some of the references while doing so.
Vaibhav managed to finish the argument on time. We were asked to vacate the moot court hall.
Vaibhav had a straight face- I could see no signs of sadness or regret. But there was this awkwardness between us. I wanted to have some coffee. It felt like my brain would explode in a few minutes if I didn’t get some coffee.
“Yaar, let’s go and grab some coffee first,” I told Vaibhav without looking at him. I still felt a little uneasy around him. He nodded.
We were walking towards our canteen. Some of our classmates were chatting and clicking photos with their formal attire. Some of them look relieved, some with a happy face, and some of them look dispirited. The atmosphere was different from the waiting hall or the moot court hall. People started speaking louder, and it all seemed lively.
Vaibhav and I were quiet. I just hoped that our senior wouldn’t find us right now. I didn’t feel like talking to anyone about this moot. We took the coffee cups and made ourselves comfortable at a table corner.
Just then, my phone rang.
“How did it go, Anubhav? Who won the case?” asked my mom. She thinks that there will be a judgment hearing and stuff like what we see in the actual courtroom.
“No, Maa. It is not ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ the case. We will be ranked based on our score. I will let you know when the result is out,” I said. But deep down, I felt like I am ‘losing’ the case.
“Acha. Have the shirt and trousers fit you? And that coat. How is it?” asked my mom.
“Yes, Maa. It is not a ‘coat.’ It’s a ‘blazer.’ I told you already,” I said.
“Why do you sound frustrated? Haven’t you had food?” she asked with a concerned tone. She’s worried about my diet, especially during examinations and competitions.
“I’ve had food in the morning. And I’m having coffee now. Don’t you worry, I am alright,” I said.
“Okay, Anubhav. Send me your pictures in that formal attire. Dad and I want to see you,” she said. To be honest, I was not in the mood to click pictures. Vaibhav was staring at his phone, drinking coffee. I was unable to comprehend his emotions.
“No, Maa. Not now, please. I need some time to relax. I will send you afterward,” I told her.
“Okay. Rest well and eat on time. Don’t get stressed. Call dad or me later when you go to your room,” she said and cut the call. I wanted to tell her how I feel today. But I didn’t want to worry her. I looked at Vaibhav and sighed. Then we finished our coffee and got up.
Vaibhav and I started walking towards the library to return the books.
“You look distressed,” he finally spoke.
“Umm, yeah. I messed up things. Starting from the cover page to the end of my allotted time, I made quite a lot of mistakes,” I said.
“Anubhav, even I have made mistakes. Can anyone sober forget to add the citation of the case laws referred to in one of the main issues? I did. And I thought I was careful and meticulous while drafting. And see what happened? I missed out on citation,” he said. All the while, he was looking down with his eyebrows lowered, showing his regret. I didn’t know how to respond.
“And, all of it is alright because it is your first moot competition. It is not the last and final competition in your life. There is a reason for it is named ‘novice.’ And every ‘novice’ mooter is supposed to make mistakes, learn from them, and use that experience in his upcoming moot competitions. It’s just that the top ranker would’ve made fewer mistakes than the last ranker,” a voice made both of us alert. It was our senior’s.
“Bhayya? When have you come?” I asked.
“Haha, sorry I was eavesdropping,” he said.
“But alas, the top ranker would get to celebrate despite his ‘fewer’ mistakes. We wanted to be one of the top-ranked teams,” Vaibhav said.
“And who told you that only top rankers would get to celebrate? Come on, Vaibhav. I’d like to tell you something. The more mistakes we make, the more careful we will be in our next steps. Now let’s forget this and get rest. We will go to buy ice-creams in the evening to celebrate your first moot experience,” said our senior. He sounded like my elder brother when I scored less in my favorite subject.
Vaibhav and I looked at each other. I can see a sense of relief on his face. A while back, I was feeling guilty and uneasy. I hoped not to meet our senior today and face him after remembering all of his advice and suggestions during our practice sessions. I had a feeling that all those suggestions went into vain because of the mistakes we made.
But then I felt light-minded. It made me realize that I should not let my confidence down because I committed some mistakes. Vaibhav and I smiled.
“Thank you so much, Bhayya. We feel a bit relieved now,” Vaibhav said.
“Chalo, I’ll see you guys at 6 pm outside the canteen,” said our senior. He smiled, patted our shoulders, and started walking towards the academic bloc.
Now, for us, the result wouldn’t matter. What matters the most is the lesson we learned from the mistakes we committed. Every experience will leave something or the other to learn. I realized that every experience tells a success story. In our ‘novice’ moot experience, our success story contains the lessons we learned from our mistakes.
“Let’s go and click some pictures before I take off this heavy blazer. I feel like I’d faint due to sweating if I wear these formals for 10 minutes more,” said Vaibhav. We both laughed. I agree- one of the best parts about moot competitions is the photo clicking part. And I am sure- mom and dad would love these pictures. It gives you the ‘lawyer’ feel.
After one year-
Vaibhav and I are on our way to the class. A boy with a backpack is coming out of the library. His bag looks heavier, and he is struggling to balance it.
“Novice moot, huh?” I asked.
“Yes, Bhayya. There’s a huge demand for books. Most of my classmates have already taken the books. So I’ve come early to the library as I didn’t want to miss out,” he said.
Vaibhav and I looked at each other and smiled.
Note: This is a fictional story written by the author.
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