I needed time to write. Somehow I could not force the words, and they too, just flatly refused to come out, for the fear of further misunderstandings. To continue where we left…
I have read in so many places that he blanched at her words, or something in similar context. But that day I saw it. His terrified eyes looked at me in absolute shock. I think he never expected me to ask the question right on his face even before he drank a sip of water. My bad.
“Oooopssss… Sorry.. sorry…sorry Kabir. That was too brazen and more than straight forward. But, this… this not knowing the real story… not knowing why you shied away… all this… it is killing me…”
He still had not uttered a word. Lot of terms were coming to my mind. Pregnant silence. Omnious. Impending. Preposterous. Compuctuation. Exacerbate. Are they even applicable to the situation? I don’t know. Why am I even thinking of these words?
“Eh.. Kabir… Maybe you should say something. I am getting anxious.” That brought a smile to his face and finally he sighed and seemed to relax a little. “I’ ll try not to interrupt.”
“You are one direct woman, you know. Never in my life did anyone ask me a question this pointedly.”
“So, coming back to the issue to at hand. I was so tensed how I will see you and tell you about the mess I got into. I was worried about the consequences and how you’ll take it… more than how you will take it, I was ashamed of what I had to say in front of you. And you were actually a friend and I was hurt and I didn’t know…”
“Kabir, please… to the point… Tell me just the facts. Details, you can give me later…”
He smiled openly at that and he said yes.
“Whaaat??? YES. YES?? Really? YESSSS?”
“Honey, you asked if I was fired for sexual assault. And I said Yes. You did not ask me if I really did that
or not,” he said in a casual tone, as if we were discussing if we like strawberry flavoured ice cream or not.
I threw the rest of the water in my glass on him. This guy was joking. After hiding for so many days and not facing me and for all frigidity outside the restaurant, he was now joking at this. Impossible man. This Kabir. And he called me honey.
“You know, this is the first time in the last one and half years that I am laughing at the mess of my life. This is the first time I am not thinking about the details and only about the facts. This is the first time I am approaching the humiliation without attaching any emotions to it. I cannot thank you enough for this. Still, Thank you. A million times.”
What could I say to such a sincere admission of gratitude. He was trying to open up and I was ready let him do it his way. There were still weary lines on his forehead, his fingers fidgeted with the fork and spoon, he was tapping his feet. Yet, he was trying to break through his own boundaries. It must be tough. Kabir looked at me straight in the eyes and continued.
“I’ll try to return the same direct approach. You want the facts, here it is. I was framed for sexual assault in my previous company. And I was fired. But the worst part is, it was not a ‘She’ that framed me, it was a ‘He.’
His words were echoing in my ears. The gentle music in the restaurant, the mild conversations, all the other sounds were muted for a minute. Was he admitting to that he was a gay? This does not happen here. Things like this happen only in movies. Ohh dear… What is he going to say next. Ohh dear… ohh dear… Ohh dear…
“Are you shocked now? I thought nothing could shock you, Tiger!”
(Tiger, really…! )
“You look terrified. Your eyes are about to pop out. Maybe I am not explaining this well. See, I am not a gay. Please, I am straight as an arrow, a spear, as hard built rocket. I repeat. I am NOT a gay.”
I let out a gasp of relief. I had not realized I was holding my breath.
For a second, humour danced in eyes, a smile peeked out of his lips, but he became serious again. “Me and a colleague, we’ll leave out the names, were due for promotion. That too, not here, abroad. In the company headquarters in Canada. The perks were amazing. Green card. A salary that will make you faint probably. Company vehicle and accommodation. Family visa in six months. The biggest leap in the career, anybody could dream of. In this case, anybody would kill for.”
“But he chose a more painful way. I personally would have preferred to be killed than this…” His sound was strangely getting raspy and hollow. I realized, I was making him re-live through the whole of it again. Maybe this open discussion was not a great idea after all.
“I don’t know when the rumors spread in the office about my sexual disposition. It began from small jokes to jibes to annoying advances. Actually. I was scared like hell. It was nightmare. The facts itself are scary. I dont want to give you the details. I wont.”
“With nearly two weeks left for the appraisal, myself and that guy and a couple of others were staying late to finish up something. One of those were our senior manager.”
“I was in the pantry, heating up something to eat, when he came up from behind and said that he was sorry.” Kabir was visibly distressed now. I wanted him to on. At the same I didn’t want him to think about it again. “He punched me. I was caught so off-guard that I fell back. He hit and kicked me a few times.”
“Naturally, the sound brought in the others left in the office into the pantry. Then this guy started screaming how I pounced on him, how I touched him inappropriately,if you will, and how I cornered him and how I…”