A WAY TO GRIEVE: IN MEMORIAM ANAND BHATT

Anand Bhatt
2 December 1948–26 November 2008

He would have been 60 today, 2nd December. Very likely, there would have been a celebration, an unending stream of people visiting and calling. His family would have been with him. He’d have been happy, delighting most especially in his recent grandfatherhood. I suspect he’d have been a shamelessly indulgent grandfather.

If a man’s true worth is the goodwill he leaves behind, then Anand Bhatt had wealth beyond compare. The crowds at his funeral and prayer meeting were seemingly endless. Colleagues, friends, clients, judges, interns, law college students, the old and the young, they all came. Many wept openly. Many travelled from Delhi only for this, the last farewell. Of how many men can it really be said that they touched so many lives?

He was one of the canniest, fairest, and most formidable attorneys in practice. There are but a few who are complete masters of their craft. Anandbhai was one of them. This is a rare breed: an attorney who, like a grandmaster in a very high-stakes game, can plot the course of a matter whether in litigation or not, and deliver the result. It calls for special skills, most of all extreme discretion, an economy with words, insight, a grasp of legal intricacies. Anandbhai had all these qualities, in abundance. Too often, of precisely such skills comes ruthlessness and, with it, enemies. Of these, Anandbhai had none; for he had, too, the qualities that temper and, paradoxically, enhance, such formidable legal acumen: an unfailing kindness, and an ability to put people at ease. It is one thing to treat your family as your own. It is quite another to treat your juniors and your office staff as your family, your own. Anandbhai did that, and delighted in the success of his many outstanding juniors.

Others, who knew him better and for longer, will speak and write of his many achievements at work. I knew him somewhat differently. Some years ago, he moved to a flat a building away from my own home. Anandbhai’s house is a wonderful space, with large wood-framed windows overlooking trees and gardens, and a tranquility unusual in the city. Every once in a while we’d meet early morning out walking. We always stopped to chat, teasing each other about our visibly evident need to walk more often. “What to do?” he said. “This is necessary, but overlooked. In that sense, it’s just a preamble to my constitution.” We both laughed at that, and, as he always did, he reddened slightly as he laughed and that somehow made everything just a little bit funnier.

We mourn a man who was a friend and a guide to many. But we must find a befitting way to mourn. What happened last week beggars description. There was an injustice done then, and it was done to us all, most especially to him and to the others who lost their lives. I believe he was slow to anger, but when he did, the fire was not easily doused. I believe what happened last week would have enraged Anandbhai. I believe he would not have let it pass.

To honour him, nor should we.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
— Dylan Thomas


Bar Association & Bombay Incorporated Law Society Condolence Meeting
Friday, 5 December 2008

The Bombay Bar Association and the Bombay Incorporated Law Societyjointly convened a condolence meeting to mourn the sad demise of the late Mr Anand Bhatt. The meeting was attended by a large number of members of both Associations. Partners and Advocates from M/s Wadia Ghady, and Mr Bhatt’s family also came to the meeting.

The Presidents of the two Associations addressed the House, followed by Mr Hamid Moochhala, partner of M/s Wadia Ghandy; Mr Janak Dwarkadas andMr Aspi Chinoy, Senior Counsel. All spoke movingly of their long associations with Mr Bhatt, his many kindnesses, unflagging warmth and immense zest for life.

The House passed the following resolution unanimously:

“This House mourns the sad and sudden demise of Shri Anand Bhatt and expresses its deepest condolences to the members of his bereaved family. In his passing, the Bar has lost an attorney and advocate of great acumen and renown, a kind and gentle friend to all, and a guide and mentor to many. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”

The House observed a two-minutes silence as a mark of respect to the deceased.

Gautam Patel

Mumbai, India