In 2004, when I went to a small town area bordering Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, the locals – who are mostly indigenous tribes – told me they approach an American Lawyer when they are in legal tangles. Little did I know that this lawyer was a Jesuit priest serving the downtrodden in Chota Udepur, a town in Gujarat state, without any fee. Father Mathew Kalathil’s oratorical skill in English and Latin made people call him American Lawyer. At times even judges were not able to comprehend many words the priest used during arguments. A doctorate in sociology and a masters degree in law, he was far superior to any legal fraternity anywhere in the state. However he remained earthly and chose to serve the poor.
When I went to interview him for UCANews, I was amazed at his living style which paralleled the poorest in the area. With frayed clothes and frugal meals and a cycle for transport, he was someone I adored at the first glance itself. After a decade, I wanted to revisit him.
But the priest is no more alive to tell us the story again.
RIP – this great human being