Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Writer

“Is she me?” she asked. She raised a clenched fist squeezing the life out of a printout. I recognized the title on that offender.
We had the coffee-room to ourselves. She had waited for this opportunity to confront me alone.
“No,” I replied.
She kept on staring at me, undecided how to proceed with her rage or misery or whatever. She turned around and marched out, her wide rear shaking disapprovingly at me.
The printout was of my flash fiction titled ‘Big Bottoms’. It is about a lady in a ménage a trois.
She is one of the few to seek clarification. Most blacklisted me without trial or appeal.
That was not the first trouble of the day. Earlier, I had received communication that my visa application for an overseas project had been rejected. No reason is given but I can guess. The interview at the Consulate had focused mostly on my online activities. They wanted to know about the ‘imagery, symbols and what-not’ in my children’s story ‘Grab the Pussy’.
Life used to be comfortable. I was a regular person with a ten-hour job in a decent corporate with good company in office and loving spouse and kids at home. I did not have any dark secrets or nefarious activities. All that I did not disclose to the world was a thirty-minute me-time every night when I quickly wrote flash fiction which I posted on my blog. My identity was hidden behind a virtual avatar. Only readers I used to get, that too rarely, were couple of virtual acquaintances killing time being nice. I was happy being an unknown wannabe-Elena-Ferrante.
About six months back I made a mistake and submitted one of my stories for a contest. There was no entry fee. The prize money seemed attractive. The only minus point then was that they did not accept anonymous entries. I had to submit a write-up and, with ample diffidence about my chances, I mentioned my blog along with other personal details.
I won the first prize. The attractive prize money, after being split between the top three and ten consolation winners, turned out to be a grand, in local currency. It must have been a dull day for the media. I entered the front page in a two-paragraph column titled ‘City analyst’s story wins grand prize’.
My spouse must have looked at my blog but there has been no response, not a comment nor any criticism. The kids are too young, thank god. Couple of long lost relatives and friends called to congratulate and promised to look at the blog. That was three months back.
If only that was the case in office too.
At the time of the press release, the leading story on my blog was about a boss whose fingers had an affinity for the crotch of underlings, without gender bias. That must have caught the attention of my colleagues. One story must have led to another story.
The blacklisting followed immediately.
The bosses, mine and other, have not complained but they seem cool. Or is it cold?
Human Resources Department has not shot off any memo. There is a story about HR being nasty to a sexually harassed employee.
People do not enter the lift with me. There is a story about a person in a lift who observes the state of colleagues’ underwear.
One guy asked me if he was the one I was in love with. I am not sure which story led to that conclusion.
Stories being stories, there is a lot of sex. I have felt like standing on my table and shouting, “Come on, can’t you see, my friends? Surely, we don’t have that much sex here. Do we?” Their unfriendly stance seems to say that I might be the only asexual one there.
Some guys, when they catch me alone, share their experiences. I am not sure if their only aim is to enter print, even if it is just on a blog enjoying overextended Warholian fame. Some seem to think I need more than passive narration to get a feel for their story. If my situation was not as bad as it is, they would have experienced my knee on their crotch.
I am avoided in the office canteen even though there is no story about the canteen.
Time might heal but people seem to be taking their time with the flash fiction. I should have tried longer stories. I would have escaped this lynching.
I have thought of removing my blog but that might confirm their fears.
I have stopped writing. I could still write long-hand in a notebook but I do not want to risk my chances at home.

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