Rajesh Talwar’s The Judiciary on Trial was reviewed by Khushwant Singh and used as the lead story in his column ‘With Malice Towards One and All,’ where he praised it fulsomely and recommended that ‘it deserved to be widely read.’ Talwar, a trained lawyer and a legal advisor to the UN (Human Rights), is back with his new book, a new legal thriller Guilty of Love, Your Honour (Bridging Borders, 176 pages) that is a story of deep and passionate love, friendship and court drama.
Here’s an extract:
I am in a huge moral dilemma. How exactly do I tell a friend that I, Luv, have kissed and hugged his fiancée in an entirely non-platonic fashion (let’s forget that old and now tired joke about platonic meaning play for him and tonic for her), even if I happen to be a promising and persuasive lawyer at the Delhi High Court? The answer is quite simple, isn’t it? I cannot tell him anything. True, but the situation is a little more complicated. You see, I’ve fallen madly, uncontrollably in love with that very same woman.
I’m talking about Jeet, who I love like a brother. If I’m honest, I love him more than my real brothers. It’s not that I’m not friendly with them, but I have never been as close with them as I am with Jeet. Now you see why I’m panicking?
Kartik is the third guy in our gang of three. Ragged together by our seniors, we bonded instantly and became inseparable friends during our time in Hindu College, Delhi University, where we studied English Literature. Those were the days, as Mary Hopkins sang. They were the best years of our lives, a third of which were spent on the college lawn and in the canteen, where we ate greasy burgers and even greasier French fries as we chatted up the girls (the English class was full of girls).
When some students complained to the principal about the poor quality of snacks served in the ramshackle cafeteria, Bum Bhatia, our name for the venerable gentleman who ran it, explained deprecatingly that the canteen was not intended to be Gaylord, a posh restaurant in Connaught Place.
The defining memory that has stuck with me of those golden days is of waking up late, having missed the first class at 8.30, and slowly making my way to the communal bathrooms on the first floor of the red-and-white building that was the college hostel. While I brushed my teeth, I would gaze at the grassy lawns outside the college canteen.
That by itself was not as remarkable as the fact that Kartik and Jeet would also be simultaneously brushing their teeth besides me in a miracle of biological clock coordination, and we would all be checking the lawn to see which of the college hotties had arrived and were already seated on the lawns.
Those were the days, as Joan Baez too sang. Days of falling in love, of heart-breaks, learning the true meaning of friendship, and of understanding the wonder that is India. For the hostel had students who came from all over the country: Jats, Biharis, Bongs, Punjus, and so on and so forth.
My first love was Ramya, a dusky beauty from Kerala.
For a while she seemed as if she reciprocated my interest in her. I dropped her home on some days, and we sat close to each other on the U-special, the university bus that took her to R.K. Puram where her parents lived. We had cheap but delicious lunches at Tib Mons, as we called the restaurant outside the Tibetan monastery close to campus.
But when a rich boy from ‘the college across the road’ who drove an Audi showed an interest in her a few months later, she switched lanes and dumped me in favour of that ‘lala’, which was the term we the ‘free thinkers’ reserved for all the rich bourgeois kids who drove to college in fancy cars purchased by their indulgent parents.
After Ramya broke up with me, Jeet and Kartik came to my room in the evening with a bottle of Old Monk, which we consumed through the course of the night. They consoled me and promised to beat up the lala. I dissuaded them from doing so; it was Ramya’s decision after all. I wept; they wiped my tears. As the weeks passed, I recovered from that heart-break, vowing never to be a sucker in love. I didn’t think I would fall in love again, until many years later it snuck up on me from behind and hit me like a thunderbolt.