Tuesday, 13 January 2009

The Inscrutable Maiden of Justice

Google images

Two men; a lawyer and his friend, are sitting at the grass lawn on the grounds of the High court on a serene Saturday evening. Having exhausted every subject of their little summit, their attentions settle on a stone statue of the Maiden of Justice which the lawyer’s friend is observing with crease-faced interest:
‘Why does she perpetually brandish a long blade?’
‘To smite the guilty with due retribution.’
‘I would have thought it was to shield herself from possible plunder of her voluptuous femminity
‘She is invincible; she needs no corporeal protection.’
‘And the scales on her other hand, what are they for?’
‘To weigh one right against another, and grant remedies to the party in whose favour the scale tilts’
‘What if the scale tilts by chunks of heavy metals like, say gold or diamond?’
‘She does not notice, she is blind’
‘No, I observe she is merely blindfolded, so she can always sneak a peek.’
‘She is not interested’
‘Really? Are diamonds not a girl’s best friend?’
‘I fail to see the relevance…’
‘Will its presence not naturally sway a maiden’s sense of judgement?’
‘We seem to be steadily approaching blasphemy’
‘Blasphemy? She is a goddess then, worshipped by members of your fold?’
‘Not worshipped, but accorded strict obeisance in our daily rituals’
‘In the Law courts you mean?’
‘Yes, we pattern our decisions in line with her dictates’
‘Oh, that means she falters sometimes?’
‘No, never, she is infallible’
‘But I hear of court decisions upturned’
‘Yes, only in absolute pursuit of her tenets.’
‘And the disciples that err, what are the rewards? Death at her hand-held guillotine?’
‘No, the chastisement is much milder’
(They pause a while and silently contemplate the sculpture.)

‘What does she do when her sword strikes an innocent?’
‘She never hurts the innocent; she would rather let ten guilty men escape’
‘I think she does that too frequently’
‘Well, that is your opinion’
‘It would not bother me much, if the ones that undeservedly escape her wrath were not always the materially well placed.’
And I notice that her blows are not always deadly to the wealthy when they are guilty’
‘She is gracious’
‘But her measures should be equal…’
‘They are, but if untempered with mercy may prove too bitter for human intake’
‘Or maybe she is just reluctant to kill the geese that lay golden eggs?’
‘Please spice your phrases with more reverence’
‘Forgive me.’
(Another lull, for some minutes.)

‘Does she only act when you entreat at her temple?’
Yes, her temple is the last hope of the common man’
‘Last hope? That is when other options crumble?’
‘The phrase is interpreted differently’
‘And the uncommon man can do without the temple, is that it?’
‘At his peril.’
‘Before she acts, do you pay her a fee?’
‘No, you only pay your lawyer’
‘And the lawyer then pays her?’
 ‘Heavensssakes no!’
‘Pardon me, I was just asking.’

(Another short pause).

‘She wears a sad look.’
‘Life is a sad tale and she listens to it firsthand.’
‘But she does not act very swiftly like her two elder sisters; Nemesis and Vengeance’
‘Yes, she is more rational and thorough.’
‘Believe me; I have seen some very thorough acts of vengeance’
‘They are hardly the same.’                 
‘She looks mighty lonely, do you think she had a heart once that loved and was loved in return?’
‘She is still loved’
Feared, not loved
‘Her job is too delicate to allow matters of emotions come in the way, which is the bane of the sisters you just mentioned…’
‘I pity her sometimes’
‘You waste that sentiment, she does not need it.’
‘I cannot help it, she burns away the raging fires of her womanhood, eternally poised on that platform and nobody cares about her private desires and inner cravings…’
‘Before we descend into flagrant heresy, why don’t we call this meeting to a close?’

(And the two friends walk off, leaving the solitary figure on the pedestal, her sword turned to the darkening sky, her empty scales unwavering in the evening wind.)

                                                                                                         THE END

First published in Thisday Newspapers: January 13, 2009