Diwali is not just a festival of lights, it is a very sweet festival too.
People express gratitude and exchange greetings and good wishes by gifting boxes of delicious, yummy goodies to those who were good to them…or those who they expect to be good to them.
Practicing lawyers use this festive season to give gifts to the registry staff.
Keeping administrative staff happy is considered the wisest investment because even milords can’t pass orders unless the registry puts up papers before them.
Many Diwalis ago, a well-known lawyer who is my good friend had sent the usual mithai boxes to the court masters…(we call them “associates”) of the Bombay High Court.
This, by the way, has now become almost a ritual, especially on part of firms of attorneys.
Lakhs of rupees are invested in such sweet gestures.
To a few “extra-special” ones in the registry, who had been especially “co-operative and helpful” in the previous year, my friend had got special golden foil wrapped mithai boxes readied.
I had no idea that there was a goodly amount of hard cash spread at the bottom of the kaju katlis in those boxes…with just translucent butter paper separating the sweet stuff from the much sweeter stuff.
I happened to be visiting his Chamber when this lawyer was busy dispatching his office staff on “mission mithai distribution”…there were many such mithai boxes to distribute and I noticed that some were wrapped in golden foil.
After his staff left, we sat in his Chambers having coffee and exchanging gossip when the lawyer informed me that each of the boxes wrapped in golden foil had Rs.10,000 in cash stuffed below the kaju katlis!
I was taken aback.
I asked my friend:
“Do the recipients know about the contents of your golden boxes?”
“Of course not.
It is meant to be a pleasant surprise for them.
My card however has been affixed on top of the boxes.”
I asked him:
“What if they just pass on the box to someone else?” “You do realise that we are breaking for the Diwali Vacation and registry staff would be getting dozens of mithai boxes from solicitors and advocates.
Obviously, they may just pass on some to their underlings.”
“How on earth would they fathom that all boxes have sweets but your golden ones are sweeter?”
My friend suddenly started looking very worried.
He immediately phoned one of the recipients in my presence and said: “I have just sent you a golden box…”
Then he screamed: “Take it back immediately!”
Turning to me he said:
“I never thought that the boxes could get passed on”
Then he frantically called his office peons and told them to insist that the recipients of golden mithai boxes should put them in their bags and take them home because these contained special “sweets” which were meant only for them and their families.
My friend then heaved a sigh of relief.
He was extremely grateful to me for ensuring in the nick of time that his “baksheesh” had reached the intended recipients only.
As I mentioned at the start of this story, Diwali is a very sweet festival.
But this advocate’s sweet gesture could probably have ended on a sour note!
I have no idea what the mithai boxes which get piled up during this festive season in the milords’ chambers contain.
But I do know that such sweet gestures have always been part of the glorious tradition of our illustrious Bar.