When I was made a scapegoat
August 6, 2016
Prompt: Promise (Used in a sentence)
Back from a coffee break, the newsroom seemed pregnant. Suddenly. Full blown in pin-drop silence. An almost every-week affair. Someone is delivered. Delivered of their alleged sins, when a reader complains. Chief Editor thunders. One of the staff goofs up. All are warned. Someone is questioned. Someone else is suspended. News reel runs. Edition is out. Following morning is another day. Amen.
I could sense the looming dagger come my way. In fact, it was already sent out my way. It was only a matter of time – time for me to decide where I allowed it to pierce into me.
The Editor continued: “Well, the Chief is boiling. The ministry is involved. He wants to know who was in-charge of the shift yesterday. But don’t worry, I’ll handle it. Relax.”
“I’ll speak to the Chief…” I got up.
“No. no. no. no. Not now,” the Editor jumped up. “You are walking into a hungry lion’s den. Leave it to me. I’ll handle it. He’ll calm down in a while,” he winked. “You get back to work.”
“It’s better to resolve the issue right away. Lemme go speak.”
“Nisha, Don’t you trust me. I know the Chief better than you. He would be at his wits end now. Do you want to get yourself in trouble?.”
The Editor sat me down, looking into my eyes, he said, “I want to save you his wrath and the HR issues that may follow. Your promotion is due. We need to be prudent now. Leave it to me.”
“I promise you, I’ll keep you out of trouble.”
“But…how am I accountable!!”
“Get back to work, Nisha.”
Did I need a hoodie walking back to my desk? Colleagues dropped their heads, peered their eyes on screen. It wasn’t in solidarity. Yet it was to help me bear the assumed pain with dignity. To deliver themselves of innocence. Did the coffee break bring up this shame on me? Being at the wrong place at the right time… whoever said was right.
Mind didn’t allign with work at hand. Ears sensitive. Eyes sharp. I saw the Editor walk into the Chief’s cabin a little later. Unpleasant glances once again darted across the room. Some walked out cigarettes in hand. Solve the jigsaw puzzle, idiots.
The Editor walked towards me. “Chief’s agitated. Wants me to shoot a warning letter, copy to HR immediately.”
“But what did I do, what’s my fault, I had told you the story is sensitive, how am I responsi….”
“Relax Nisha. Let me complete. I told him it’s collective responsibility.”
“How is it collective responsibility!!! You approve stories. I asked you yeste…”
“Nisha, Nisha, relax. It’s all taken care of. You see, there is a way of handling him. I know him for the last 15 years. Relax. Consider the issue is closed.”
“Are you sure,” I asked, shamelessly and yet relieved.
“I promised you that I’ll sort it out.” I was confused. Something didn’t seem right still.
“Hello, relax. It’s over.” He walked away.
I heard the voice. The other voice. Inside me. Crawling all outside me. “Get your arse up and speak to the Chief.” Heart thumped. Bowel rumbled. I hurried to the washroom.
Now, I felt hungry. Tension breeds on hunger. Canteen is the best place to de-stress. As I snacked on a carrot cake, I heard the voice. That unsettling bark of a rumble. “You should not have taken that story, Nisha.” The Chief.
He walked with his plate to another table.
“Get your asre up, now. Go. He’s alone. Speak.” The other voice screamed inside me.
Cheated. Abused. Shame wrenching from within, I hurried, this time to weep on the closet, locked in the toilet.
Through the haze of tears, I made a promise to myself – ‘I am getting out of this place at the earliest’.