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Now it was Akash’s turn. As he unwrapped his gift, there was pin-drop silence. He saw people nudging each other. Many could even guess why he was gifted that. There was suppressed laughter.
Anu reached office. As she was about to sit in her work bay, she realized her salwar was stained. She quickly wrapped her dupatta around and rushed to the washroom.
However, Akash, managed to see the red stain. He laughed out loud.
Ritu, who was sitting next to him asked him, “Are you crazy? What made you laugh all of a sudden?”
Akash (with an air): “It’s that time of the month for Anu!”
Ritu: “As if Anu came and told you, huh!”
Akash: “Her clothes are stained. Yuck! I hope she doesn’t come near me.”
Oddly enough, Ritu was one of those women who took great pleasure in discriminating against other women. She was a pure example of a woman being sexist against other women. She didn’t like Anu because of her intelligence and outstanding performance.
Akash had the guts to speak whatever he felt aloud because their manager, Rajveer, was his childhood buddy. Moreover, all the ‘sutta and chai’ breaks together just strengthened their bond. Rajveer as a boss needed someone who would wag his tail around him always, which Akash did, and Akash in return got all the benefits. Promotion, responsibilities, appraisal all were in his favour. Office politics you see!
So Anu came from the washroom and sat on her seat. The look on her face showed how uncomfortable she was.
Rajveer: “What happened Anu? Any problem?”
While Anu nodded her head, they heard Akash holding his laughter and whispering, “It’s that time of the month for Anu.”
Few other guys around heard it and giggled.
Anu felt embarrassed and carried on with her work. Rajveer heard it too but ignored the comment.
After that incident, whenever Anu would sit seriously or just be by herself working, Akash would always remark, “Looks like it’s that time of the month again”. Then there would be roars of laughter. In fact, wherever Anu went, there were those shameless misogynistic people saying, “There comes that time of the month.”
Anu felt angered, as they were now crossing their limit. She wrote an email to the HR. Akash was called by the HR team.
Akash (to the HR) : “Where’s the proof that I have passed such comments?”
He plainly denied that he passed such remarks. So, even though there was no proof that he had said it, he was given a verbal warning.
Yet, Akash kept on with his taunts. Little things amuse little minds, don’t they?
Anu now felt it was time for her to embarrass him.
Rajveer, the manager, called for a team meeting. He said, “Guys, tomorrow is Christmas day. Time for some celebration. A Secret Santa gift exchange is a fun way to exchange gifts with colleagues. Our Secret Santa Generator will randomly assign names that each of you will be giving a gift to.”
The team was quite excited.
The next day all of them came and had a gift each on their desks. So they took their gifts and went into the conference room to unwrap them in front of the whole team and share their joy.
Ritu unwrapped her gift. She got a beautiful desk plant as she loved plants and flowers.
Next, Anu unwrapped her gift and was overwhelmed to get a box of chocolates.
A few other members too opened their gifts, and there was so much joy amongst the team members.
Akash stood with a packet of sanitary pads in one hand and a piece of paper with a message on it in the other hand.
The smile on his face had paled out. Anu asked him to read the message on the paper aloud.
Akash read it. It said –
What happened? You looked so serious as you opened your gift. Is it that time of the month for you? Periods, even you? Maybe yes. Please use this sanitary pad. I assure you that it is a thin pad made of absorbent material that absorbs the menstrual fluid. Kindly dispose of it later, as it is meant for single use only.
There were familiar roars of laughter in the room. The same people who had laughed with him at Anu, were now laughing at him.
From that time on, whenever he would pass by, he would hear someone saying, “There comes that time of the month.”
This time Akash wrote an email to the HR. The HR met him and said, “I had already given you a warning. Yet you continued disrespecting the lady with your taunts. Maybe I should have given that packet of sanitary pads to you in the beginning itself.” The HR laughed.
Akash: “You cannot talk to me like that being an HR. I will escalate the matter.”
The HR: “Where’s the proof that I spoke like this to you?”
Akash now realized how everything that he had done was coming back to him like a vicious circle.
He sat at his desk feeling insulted. Anu asked him, “That time of the month, huh?” What a tongue-in-the-cheek moment it was for her.
That night Akash couldn’t get sleep. He had learned these five things:
First published here.
Image source: a still from The Lunchbox
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