Sunday, February 21, 2010


I recently got to know that some woman who I knew in my first job, around 15 years ago, feels 'sad' that she and I did not explore our friendship back then because we were prevented by early 20s insecurity, rivalry and suspicion.

Needless to say, this caught me totally off guard, in my solar plexus, because I had only viewed her as a colleague and someone who was more than an acquaintance, less than a friend, all those years ago. I was mildly happy to get in touch with her again. She had never occupied more mindspace for me than that. I however seem to have filled up her thoughts with far more complex hues.

Today apparantly being in our mid 30s and more mature, we have the power to put all that behind us and become friends. And that she no longer is in awe of my looks or my success or the colour of my frigging hair, or something to that effect. I don't remember the exact words because this was all in her facebook invite message to me, and after I confirmed her (which I'm not sure why I did) I can't seem to retrieve that invitation message.

I got on to facebook about a week ago, caving in to general pressure, and am already regretting it.

The whole business seems entirely directionless and pointless - and that when its not revealing nasty truths from people who were barely on the edges of your consciousness.

I seem to inspire a lot of this perplexing hatred. What flabbergasts me the most is very often this hatred comes from people who I barely think about, have never wished them any harm, never had any ill will towards and never even thought about much.

Thankfully the people who love me also do so quite intensely, so it adequately compensates, else I'd have a serious self worth issue.

But I don't get it. Once I had gotten to know through a friend that a guy he knew bad mouthed me intensely and regularly, for over 2 years. The guy kept urging my friend to lose contact with me, as 'prolonged exposure' to me would be bad for him.

Believe it or not, I had never even met the guy in question. We had only heard of each other on and off through common acquaintances. Such third hand knowledge of a person can generate gossip, sure, but hatred? Venomous, black viscous hatred?


Then there was this girl in my team where I currently work. For a long time I kept working on her career because I truly saw a lot of potential in her. I would even go the extent of saying she and I became sort of friends. Laughter is one thing we shared a lot, and that is a great bonding agent.

Then one day I gave her career a direction she didn't quite resonate with. She made it amply evident to me that even though it was growth, I had not given her growth in quite the way she wanted.

By this time she was anyway no longer my direct reportee. I had just continued to remain involved with her career because I truly felt she'd go places.

Needless to say after she made her displeasure at my intervention evident, I totally stepped out of her professional life. I anyway had other responsibilities and it was a relief to take my eyes off something that was proving to be quite thankless.

For the next 8 months I had absolutely nothing to do with her. I'd hear how she was coping, when she was doing well and when otherwise, but it was all very distant information percolated through layers of office talk. I didn't spend much time thinking about her. She vaguely shimmered on the horizon of my awareness.

One day I heard she was quitting. I remember thinking: 'well, thank god, at least she won't be able to blame me for this. I've had absolutely nothing to do with her for nearly a year'.

Well imagine my surprise when she went out all guns blazing, blaming me for having conspired to kill her career in this company.

Err. Nasty accusation aside, I never quite got the logic of it. Why would I want to kill the career of a person when I'd spent 5 years building it? It defied common sense.

Anyhow, today she is doing precisely what I had envisaged her to be doing in our company, in a rival company. Talent and potential rolled towards its natural destination. Even though she resisted my every urge to push her in a particular direction, it was just something so made for her that it found her anyway.

And she went out bitterly hating me, my intent and every last curly hair on my head. I think she went so far as to hope I miscarried or something. Which I thankfully didn't.

There have been others. Comparatively minor in intensity and involvement, but still there. A girl who worked for me in my previous company, thought at that time that I wasn't worthy of being her boss, later on went on to practically hero worship me, and therefore felt compelled to tell me all about her past feelings of hatred and malice.

A girl in my current company, a sort of a friend I'd say, told me a similar story some months ago. About how she used to hate my guts and thought I was nuts and anal for being so detail oriented but today, as she finds herself in positions of responsibility, realises my committment and dedication to the job and deeply appreciates me for the training I invested in her etc etc... Even though she bitched and cribbed about me endlessly then, apparantly. But hey, she loves me now.

Most of these confessions come from women. Even the woman I started this post with - she's been following up her facebook invitation with a series of intense lover-like smses after I clearly indicated my discomfort to her. It is essential to her that I understand her true feelings, her admiration inspite of her insecurities, her appreciation inspite of her envy, her desire to strike up a deep meaningful relationship with me inspite of her highly inappropriate, more-information-than-I-needed invitation message. She needs me to look at her guts, love her inspite of their putrification and then embrace her in a lifelong bond of friendship.

Yawn. I don't think its worth the time and mind space. I don't get the sanctimonious nature of it all. As Gorky puts it so fantastically - "Why do people insist on using someone's head as a stepping stone to attain nirvana?"

I think when you've disliked a person for a while, and then changed your mind about them, you feel so saintly, so haloed, so good about yourself, that you naturally assume the other person will fall over with gratitude once you confess your true feelings to them. I guess the only reason a person would have the socially awkward, highly inappropriate "I Used to Hate You But Now I Think You Rock" conversation with anyone is because they are feeling so smug, so full of the clean, pious, moral light, that it doesn't strike them for a second that the other person may just be plain flabbergasted, never having thought of themselves as hated or disliked in the first place. The sanctimonious nature of having let go of a negative obsession, is so high, that these slightly ill people just don't realise how their couch confidences will sound to the unsuspecting third party.

The most bizarre of these stories is the one about the girl who joined a company after I'd quit it. She replaced me. Six years later she came to meet me in my new organisation only to tell me that she'd been obsessing about me so much that it was threatening to be an illness.

She had heard about the quality of my work in my previous organisation and somehow had gotten into a state of total inadequacy. Nothing she did ever really matched up to the standards I'd set.

What rot.

We've all replaced older employees in jobs. Sure it takes some time to step into their shoes. Sure it takes a while to replace the team's and / or the boss's dependancy on their way of working, but its doable. No employee is ever indispensable.

Its never worth a six year obsession about a person you've never met.

Or is it?

And what's with all this confession. Waiting to exhale. Or should I say ex-hate. "Oh I used to hate you. But I also admire you. I was insecure about it. But now I'm over it. Its all water under the bridge. Or over it. Or whatever. We are all more mature now. So I must spill my guts into your ears whether you want to hear it or not. You must smell the rotten turd of my brain. Please. We can start on a fresh page. Please, lets start afresh. I used to be insecure about you. I used to be jealous of you. I used to believe all the gossip about you. I used to be envious of you. I stuck pins into your dolls. I sat bitching about you to others. But now I see you for the great person you are. I'd like to do you the favour of befriending you. Now you must fall all over yourself in gratitude. I used to think you were weird. Now I don't...."

Err... I have news for you, you exhater. You are giving me more information than I need. You are telling me things that don't make me feel grateful, they make me feel disgusted. Also, you are freaking me out.

I'm not interested in helping you bury your ghosts. Even if I am the ghost.


Double-Dolphin said...

So she wants to make friendship with you?

Manish said...

Interesting ....
Your team memeber has the "who did this to me" syndrome, while travelling or over post 3 drink sessions, people would want to share who did what to their life,starting from 11th class chemistry teacher to inlaws, the list is evolving every day. I guess the forts step to "maturity" is the gut to confess, I managed a hit wicket and did that to myself .
Btw, tools like facebook, i read somwhere are more for Nostalgia than the contemporary status updates. Most people search for "i should catch with him/her once" and pretend how "cool" life facebook has also become victim to our Neighbour's envy- Owner's pride upbringing . there are etiquettes on who should be kept or added and then deleted.We just build more of these toys to fancy our ego and then push our ego to a new level.....

kaaju katli said...

V interesting post. I think this happens to you because you are way too competent and good looking to boot ;-)! Whaddya expect, woman? L

Riya said...

hey, thanks for the compliment Indi! Take a negative post and turn it into a opportunity to make someone feel like a million bucks - now thats what friends are for!! Luv ya!