Ever tried calling anyone fifty times a week? And they don’t respond? I did,. But then when Kabir finally received my call, it went like this…
“Hello” (Serious tone, as if somebody got kidnapped)
“Where the hell have you been? I don’t even know how many times I called you. Why didn’t you just pick up? You stupid fellow. (Frantic. Words uttered at 120 km/ hour speed in a LOUD voice)
“You didn’t have to call me so many times. There is nothing so urgent to talk between us.” (Cold voice. Temperature is -10 degree celsius)
“There is not? Who are you to say that! OK. You don’t have anything to say, is it? But I have. Meet me today evening.” (wavering between scream and normal voice, mixed with anger and desperation)
“I can’t. I wont. There is no need.” (Iceberg begins to melt)
“I am not giving you an option. I will wait for you in the cafeteria. and You. Will. Come. (Back in control. Authoritative)
“No” (Room temperature…phew…)
“You wont? Really?” (plain direct question)
“Fine then… See you in the evening.”
“Good. I forgot to ask. How are you? Where are you?
“Hmmm? Ehmmm…Me? I am… I.. I ll see you in the evening. Bye”
We did not meet in the cafeteria though. He later messaged to go out for a dinner at a nearby restaurant. Apparently, he was on ten days leave from office. Was I responsible for that? I was not really sure.
So I went to meet Kabir after an unaturally long evening. I was all jumping nerves and thumping heart by the time I left office. Kabir was waiting for me outside the restaurant. He looked weary, even in the dim golden light. In that moment, when I saw him there, one leg propped up and leaning on the wall, waiting for me to reach closer, I knew this man was innocent. He couldn’t possibly harm any one, that bad and deliberately. He was falsely accused, I was too damn sure. My instincts were rarely wrong. I just needed to know why and how it all happened. I wanted him to know that I was his friend and that I understood. That I was sorry I was carried away.
“Hi…Long time no see..?”
“Come, let’s go inside.”
That was blunt! I did not walk inside. A not-so-tiny pinch of hurt was bothering my heart. I wanted my friend back. I was not ready to walk in with Mr. Indifferent. No matter how misunderstood he was, this attitude was not going to help, neither him nor me.
He stopped after two steps and turned, “What? Don’t like this place? You want to go somewhere else?”
“Kabir, I am not coming inside with you, if this is going to be your attitude. You are being frigid and rigid and stony… I don’t know what… I came to have dinner with a friend. Not a stranger.”
He looked away and remained silent for a moment. I could see the war going on in his mind, reflecting on his face. What were those thoughts? Why did he look as if he wanted to believe, but couldn’t. I wanted answers.
“Kabir… I am sorry. You should know, that I am really sorry.” I walked forward and touched his arm. He was so tensed. He felt like a rock to my fingers. What was he afraid of? We were silent for a long minute.
Kabir sighed, relaxed and faced me and held both my hands, and ssaid in a small voice, “I am sorry too. I should have called you before. I know. I was indeed a stupid fool.” A tall man, built so strong, was standing in front of me lost for words and lonely.
“Come inside Kabir. I am starving, for one thing… And lets talk. I am your friend. Maybe not so good one. But I will try to understand you. I know, you are not a bad person.”
He looked deeper inside my eyes, took my hand and wordlessly we went in and took our seats. As we sat facing each other in the dim light of a candle and other fancy lights scattered here and there, I realized the night was going to be a very long one. Longer than the evening I endured.
“I will not polish my words, Kabir, I will tell you as it is. Rather, as I heard. I am not proud of what I did. I am normal human after all. Got the news from someone I trust. But I somehow knew, it was not true. And that’s why the 50 phone calls, 100 messages and that’s why I am here. So tell me, what happened in your previous company? Were you fired for sexual assault?”