I am back, all you nice people. And this time it is for a reason – a reason more significant and serious than, say, buffaloes and power-cuts.
This is a warning.
Got your coffee? Perched up cosily in front of your desk? Good.
To begin with take five minutes from your life and read this blog post. No, this is not an advertisement, and neither is this the usual post with a hilarious joke or three catchy punch-lines. And it certainly does not contain pictures of celebrities.
No. This is serious stuff. Read it, and you may end up doing yourself a favour.
I know this blogger for some time now. We had met on that much-underrated haven that goes by the name of blogosphere. She does a decent job of her blog: she typically abstains from writing on global issues like Fardeen Khan’s career and generally keeps her blog confined to her personal musings.
When she took up a new job in one of the leading institutes of the second-most populated country in the world some time back she was asked to inform her colleagues a bit about herself on the institute’s newsletter. She was not very sure of what to write (which probably proves her sanity) and after a few words she asked whether she can mention her blog. They agreed. She did.
Thereafter she turned out to be an excellent worker. The Dean of the Institute had called her and acknowledged her work in public – both in person and in an email. Life was never rosier for her.
Then, some time back, she had written the blog post mentioned above. She had used the real names of the people mentioned in the blog (she has changed them subsequently).
All went well until she was suddenly summoned by the Chief Human Resources Officer one day – several months after she had written the post and had possibly forgotten about it: the women in the institute – all of them – had complained (picketed is more like it) outside his office.
My friend had been accused of racism. She had used the line “Her oiled, unkempt hair had no flowers. She is not beautiful – as her name suggests – nor is she ugly. Sometimes, when I look at her… it feels she was born old-faced.”
That was obviously a racist statement. The leaders of the Women with Oiled, Unkempt Hair, Neither-Beautiful-Nor-Ugly Women, and Women Born Old-Faced organisations had obviously taken the matter rather seriously and had lodged an official complaint against her.
Two days passed. My friend, meanwhile, had changed the names and taken the picture (yes, there was one) off the blog. Yet another day passed.
Her female colleagues had now started to hound her and had started to target her with the choicest of abuse-words (much as I would have loved to learn some authentic Kannada swear-words I did not have the heart to ask my friend) whenever she walked alone. Not content with the language they even took a step further and – you have to believe this – they spat at her. When she tried to protest the Human Resources Division turned a deaf ear.
She had left no stone unturned for moral support. The message was sent out to her clearly by everyone – the aforementioned Dean included – that she was not wanted any more.
To her bravery (or folly, whichever way you look at it) she did not budge from her rights: she did not take the blog post down. She resigned instead. I wish I had her guts.
No, that was not the end of the story. While serving her notice period she had got to know that her employers had set up an Enquiry Commission to look into the matter in details. She was interrogated while she was on notice period.
These were some of the sample questions:
Q: What is a blog? Who pays you to write?
A: A blog is free. Nobody pays me. It is my hobby. I write for fun.
Q: Aren’t you aware that ‘oily unkempt hair’ qualifies as racism?
A: Don’t you use oil on your hair? I do.
Q: How can you use terms like ‘parched’ while referring to her wrists?
A: Both my grandmothers have parched skin: what is wrong with that?
Q: Why did you call her ‘ugly’?
A: Did you even read what I have written?
Nobody wanted their valuable employee back. The resignation was accepted without a word. Her replacement was assigned the designation immediately.
So what did you learn today?
Does the world know of your blog? Do your colleagues?
Have you written about them? Have you mentioned their names?
If you say ‘yes’ to one or more of the previous four questions have you may be headed for serious trouble before you can say the word Ghitorni. Go back to make the amendments.