Vikram Kumar Tiwary
When we received calls on Sunday 30 May 2021 that our soon to be called former pupil Vikram Kumar Tiwary had passed away peacefully in his sleep the previous day, we went into a numb shock. Vikram was only 28 years old.
There is a profound sadness when one writes about a young person dying. As Sadhana Rai, CLAS Advocate, put it, “How does one begin to celebrate a life that has only truly just begun? How does one ever put pen to paper to set out, in black and white, memories that are yet so fresh, vivid, and colourful?”
Vikram graduated from the University of Sheffield, completed his Part A and Part B exams, and then completed both the Relevant Legal Training and Practice Training at K&L Gates Straits. He was to be admitted to the Rolls as an advocate and solicitor on 9 June 2021, fulfilling his cherished dream of being a lawyer, like his father Ram Prakash Tiwary. Vikram wanted to be a criminal practitioner, because of (or perhaps in spite of) the influence of his uncle Ramesh Tiwary.
During his training, Vikram worked tirelessly on the CLAS cases that the firm undertook and showed a deep commitment to help the underdog. He put in 110 per cent effort in every matter he assisted in, always mindful of the interests of the accused. After completing all the call requirements, he applied to be and was accepted as a CLAS Fellow, and was to start work immediately upon call. In the interim, he worked as a volunteer, assisting the CLAS Advocates and Fellows.
Sadhana recalls, “Over our many conversations, Vikram would tell me about how excited he was to finally be doing criminal work full time. He openly shared about his family, how he would rush home to eat his mother’s food, how his sister was his best friend, how passionate he was about cars and cryptocurrency, how close he was to his uncle and so much more. In the span of just a few months, I learnt so much about this boy who wore his heart on his sleeve, that I came to see him as one of us. He was our Fellow, our friend, our Vikram.”
Ng Shi Yang, CLAS Advocate, describes the deep commitment and impact that Vikram made: “Vik and I acted for a young man whom could be described conservatively, as a wayward adolescent. Tough exterior, but likely hurting inside. He ignored our e-mails and calls, missed meetings, and when we called him out for it, would not feel the need to offer even an insincere apology for his conduct. But Vik and I knew he had the promise to do better, and we hoped we could help him see his potential, beyond just defending him as his lawyers. Vik and I had earlier scheduled a video call with the boy on 31 May. When I shared the news of Vik’s passing with the boy (whose default expression was one of defiance), his stunned look and silence touched me. I shared with him Vik’s hopes for him, and asked him to try to lead a more meaningful life. Since that day, the boy has changed for the better – he is now prompt in responding to calls and e-mails, and starting to talk of a future after his case concludes. It may be early days yet, but I appreciate the boy trying. I am certain Vik, through their interactions, left a deep impression on the boy.”
Vikram’s approach and love for the law and caring for his clients was a constant in everything he did. He was assisting CLAS Fellow Kimberley Pah in a case and they had obtained an offer from the Prosecution that the client was prepared accept. Rather than just closing the matter and moving on, Vikram wanted to try to get the client a better deal. Kimberley’s words – “Your empty desk is keenly felt in the office. That fella you cared so much about – his mention is coming up soon, and I’m doing my best to get that ‘something better’ for him.”
One of his mentors in K&L Gates Straits, PO Ram, describes Vikram as “A man born with a smile”. James Bradley, a partner in the firm “still cannot believe the loss of such a bright spark”, recalling Vikram cheerfully helping out other teams when they needed urgent last minute help in completing transactions.
Our younger colleagues were asked to share their thoughts:
“Vikram cared very deeply about the people around him and always checked in on them to make sure they were well.” – Adorabelle Tan, Associate
“He was always up for a friendly chat even when bogged down with work and stress.” – Ranita Yogeeswaran, Associate
“He was a genuine, heart on his sleeve champ, who wouldn’t think twice putting others before self. When he felt happy, he spread the joy. When he felt vulnerable and sought advice, he exemplified courage and fortitude to face whatever comes.” – P Partheban, Associate
Fellow trainee Darren Tan took up law because his friend Vikram told him to do so; a conversation that changed Darren’s life. His thoughts about Vikram – “You may not know, but your presence has touched the lives of so many and you will continue to live in our hearts forever.” Nachiappan Ganesan, another fellow trainee and close friend relates that Vikram, as a student in England would always call his family every day at 5pm UK time. During the hectic Part A, Part B and training contracts period, he remained a true and faithful friend. Ganesan’s memory of his friend is “He has always been a listening ear regardless of what he has going on. No matter what time of day it is, even 1am, he answers your call and makes sure you are satisfied with the outcome or at least you have had someone there just to hear you out.”
The fullness with which Vikram embraced life is well captured in an anecdote recalled by CLAS Fellow Ng Pei Qi – “We started talking about our hype songs once and he shared the song ‘We Own It’. He mentioned how he used to play this song on repeat while cramming for his papers.” We took a pause and listened to the entire song, with him mouthing all the lyrics.
“I never fear death or dyin’,
I only fear never tryin’,
I am whatever I am,
Only God can judge me now.”
Herodotus (c. 445 B.C.) told a story concerning two young men who hitched themselves to a cart to carry their mother to a festival for the goddess Hera. At the temple, the grateful mother asked Hera to reward her sons with the greatest gift anyone might receive, whereupon her sons lay down to sleep and never woke again. This is the story of “Whom the Gods love, die young”.
We remember a life well lived and a soul well loved.
You are loved beyond words,
And missed beyond measure
I’ll remember you Vikram,
Always loved, never forgotten.
– Tanty Masuaty, Senior Practice Assistant, KLG Straits
N Sreenivasan, SC
K&L Gates Straits Law LLC