Rewriting the untold side of my ex-colleague's #MeToo story

#MeToo from another angle

Dear Saheli,

Saw your post yesterday, read your poignant #MeToo story. You have written your heart out, was glad to see the fervent support pouring in, and, for a moment, my heart melted too – but just for a moment.

And then, all those memories from a decade ago started coming back to me: our workstations were in the same bay, our joining dates were a week apart and we were assigned the same project at the very beginning of our careers. We had spread ourselves a little too thin for the completion and success of that project – in our own distinctive ways. And then, there was Neelima, who joined in late but her  efforts exceeded that of both of us put together. It was the year 2007.

In 2007, you were an intern. Your manager asked you out on a cup of chai; both of you walked to the chaiwala stall outside. You could have taken him to the pantry also, but you didn’t. Nihar returned from his smoke break and filled us in on how the manager extended a jeera biscuit and you ate it right off of his hand. You didn’t have to.

In 2007, he placed his hands on your shoulder and pressed it lightly, asking you to stay back after office hours to work on a presentation that was due the next week. He promised he would drop you home – as per the company policy, you didn’t have to – but you readily accepted. You shared how he dropped you at 1:30 AM.

In 2007, he winked at you in the bay, saying you looked ‘hot’ in that yellow kurti. The gesture and the word, both were highly objectionable and our firm had zero tolerance towards such unwanted advances. You could have walked straight into the HR manager’s cabin; we would have testified, there was a camera right above Noor’s laptop that captured everything. You smiled instead and brushed it off.

In 2007, the HR team conducted their annual workshop for all newly recruited lady employees. They briefed us about our rights as employees, rights to be respected and rights against harassment. There was this ma’am in a purple shirt – forgot her name – who encouraged all of us to speak out against any harassment. A lady from the L&D team volunteered. We all looked at you, Jenny even poked you with her pen. You picked silence.

In 2007, he invited you to his home; his wife was out for the weekend and he wanted you to put in some extra hours to complete the project. As per company policy you had every right to decline the invitation. But you went, anyway.

In 2007, he patted you on your butt at a project success party. You could have called him out, pushed him away, left the party or complained to his manager. But you knew the appraisal cycle was around. You let him put his hands around you and dance.

In 2008, despite having lesser achievements than Neelima, despite having taken fewer initiatives than Neelima, despite having fewer client appreciations than Neelima, you were given an exceptional hike and a vertical movement. You were on cloud nine that day, ordered pizzas for all of us. We were so happy for your success that day, and every day since then.

Nevertheless, as anti-women and politically incorrect I may sound, as a vice-president today in 2018, after reaping the benefits of all those indecencies, choosing silence over confrontation for all those years, saying ‘yes’ every time you were provided with enough scope and support to say ‘no’, you don’t get you raise that hand you had once extended towards him, and say #MeToo.

(Inspired by real incidents. Name changed for privacy reasons.)

The above is an account of an individual’s personal opinion and experiences. Yahoo doesn’t discredit the very powerful movement that is #MeToo and stands with everyone who has suffered and survived.