I am a girl of morals and ethics and I revere culture, rituals and beliefs. I don’t have a boyfriend nor want one. I am a one-man woman. I just want to marry someone whom I can’t live without.
After completing my graduation, I got placed in an IT firm far away from my home. After my training got over, I joined the office and got introduced to colleagues, seniors and everyone around. In the induction week, I came to know that one of my seniors was from a town near where I came from.
In time, I made some good friends among the freshers who joined with me. Some of us were placed under a Team Lead called Kabir, for a project. He was the one from near my home. He had been working in my company for almost four years and knew the city well. He helped me become familiar with the city and we became good friends. We were just two people who shared our roots and we were colleagues on a project. We barely even had coffee together.
In the office, I had to talk to him a lot because we were working together and since I was a fresher, he would guide me as well. He was a good person who would help anybody, and not just me.
Life was absolutely normal until the day I heard people whispering about Kabir and me. There were rumours that Kabir and I were having an affair and we were seen getting cozy in his car. I tried not to react, choosing to focus on my work instead. But a colleague of mine asked me about it the very same day. I told her that nothing was happening between us, and moreover, Kabir was a married man. Nobody had seemed to consider that.
She laughed and said that our picture was going viral in the office. When she showed it to me, I could see that it was taken in such an angle that it seemed as if we may be up to something. I was shocked and humiliated. My environment became suffocating. All eyes were on me, all mouths were talking about me.
I didn't know what to do. I was panicking and overwhelmed with shame. I took the day off and came home. I texted Kabir saying that I was not feeling well. There was nothing going on between Kabir and me. The previous night, it was raining very heavily and I couldn't find an auto to go back home. Kabir had offered to drop me but his car stopped midway because of water-logging. He had left the car there, booked a cab, dropped me home first and then gone his way. That's all that happened, but who took the picture and spread rumours about me all over the office? Kabir must have heard of it too, but why hadn't he reacted or asked anything?
Whatever others said, as far as I knew, Kabir was a good person and he would have been irked by this. He would have said something. But he hadn't reacted or replied to my message. Thoughts and doubts clouded my mind. What if Kabir was involved in this? I didn't know what was happening to me. I was even thinking about leaving the job.
I finally received a reply from Kabir saying that he was out of town and granting me leave. I was in tears. That was the first time something like that was happening to me. It was a huge dilemma. I felt like calling up my sister and asking her for help. I couldn't call my parents because they would start panicking too.
My sister gave me a lot of relief. She asked me to be brave and face people, because hiding from them would mean I had done something wrong. I gathered the courage to go to office the next day.
My head was down the entire time, and I didn't dare make an eye-contact with anyone. I felt like a lamb walking into a pride of lions. I didn't have the guts to face all of them because I was still traumatised by the previous day's events. I still wish I could just erase that day from my life. It became the longest day of my life. I was just waiting for the clock to strike six so I could go home. A couple of days later, Kabir returned, but he said nothing. Without any support, I began to lose my morale. I developed an aversion towards everybody. I would come to work, do my assignments, and leave. I had no friends and I spoke to no one.
A week later, people became normal. I interacted with Kabir a few times in the meanwhile, and he was always calm and professional. He probably had no idea what had happened or what I went through.
I started forgetting things little by little, but deep down I was still hurt. That incident left me wounded.
And then one day Kabir threw a party in the office cafeteria and everyone was invited. I was not sure if I should go. Since everyone was invited, I didn't want to draw attention to myself by staying back. At the cafeteria, Kabir sat next to me and asked me a few things about our ongoing project. We had lunch together.
Then he got up and asked for everybody's attention. He asked me to stand up as well. Then he called someone named Rohit. Suddenly, the three of us were standing and all eyes were on us.
He first asked if all of us knew Rohit. Then he said this:
“Suppose you are passing by and you see your sister standing and waiting for an auto or bus to her home on a rainy night. What will you do? I guess none of you will leave her there and pass by. You would take her with you, and that night I did the same. I don’t know when Rohit came and took a picture of mine facing towards her, and you guys created a rumour out of it. Yes, she and I have a relationship; a relationship of brother and sister, a bond of humanity, a camaraderie between colleagues, and I share the same warmth with almost all of you.
Guys we all are well educated but one has to develop ethics and morals by themselves. We all have almost the same qualifications but different characters, and our character is defined by the morals we choose for life. A girl is always a part of your life. Respect her, empower her and let her live a better life here.
No one is good or bad, evil or Godly; but how you treat others makes the difference. I hope in future, you will all enter office premises with a good character and leave your bad traits outside this building, and if possible leave them forever. Raise your voice against all kinds of humiliation you face. If you are silent, they have the power.”
I don’t know what changed after his effort to make our workplace a better one. But yes, I feel the aura in my office has changed. I have changed too- I am less disheartened and more respectful of him.