There are ordinary men and there are special men and then there is somebody who cherished life, a man with a passion and a zest for life The Icon, the inimitable Soli Sorabjee. As a law student, and as a young lawyer, I had read of him, and I had read his judgments and his arguments, but one of the strongest impressions he made on me was in one of his interviews as the Attorney General of India, which left an indelible imprint in my mind. When responding to a question in the gardens of 10 Motilal Nehru Marg, he said in his inimitable style that he was the Attorney General of the country and not of the government. The statement resonated with me and has stayed in my mind since then. Another memory I have is of Mr Soli Sorabjee when his office was at second floor of Sunder Nagar, I remember we had to climb two floors and I remember being very enamoured by the jazz posters adorning his office.
Beyond his legendary wit and candour, his fondness for music and specifically jazz was one of the most striking aspects of his personality, I still remember as a young lawyer I was taken aback when I heard that he had shut his office for a jazz festival. It was something that was unheard of, but then he was passionate about life; passionate about his interest; passionate about his beliefs, passionate about freedom and as the world well knows, definitely passionate about the freedom of expression. Later in life, when I fortunately became neighbours with him, his house became the place we used to go to for quiet conversations and fiery discussions. His parties were of course legendary, as was his personal call to every guest, and god forbid, you were busy or couldn’t make it, you would never hear the end of it. His birthday parties were the most memorable. They used to stretch for a week. To my surprise he would remember which guest was called on which day – meticulous to the core.
Satvik Verma, was right when he wrote about Soli planning for London. That was his Mecca. I used to see him so often in London and every time marvel at the zest for life he possessed. Last I saw him in London was when he and lord Meghnad Desai were going into House of Lords.
My recent memories are of him sitting in his garden on his natty wheelchair. Since lockdown I used to frequently spend time with him my neighbour and friend in his garden. He used to have chair for guests stationed at covid distance. We would have coffee or coconut water and biscuits We would talk about law we would talk about what was going on in courts we would talk about his juniors neighbours. Last he gifted me with a copy of a book by Charles Dickens. a classic by a classic.
I called him two weeks back but for once he said he would let me know when to come. The call never came. The time had come. I will miss him and so will all of us.
A legend who will live forever not only in the hallowed corridors of law but as a symbol of strength, courage and conviction.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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