WHEN Mohit walked into Kalpana’s room, the first impression she got was of someone who looked vulnerable and lost. All her maternal instincts were aroused as she gave him a patient hearing. He was out of work, he had not cleared his State Administrative exam, he girlfriend’s family was threatening to marry her off elsewhere unless he could come up to their expectations. He was confused but he had this burning desire to "do something worthwhile since I believe I can make a difference, if given a chance."
Kalpana, a counsellor, knew that not many men could open their hearts out and reach out to a complete stranger without worrying about appearing like wimps or losers. She found him sensitive and dignified. At the end of the hour-long meeting, he found her far more helpful than he had dared to hope. Besides, talking to her made him feel as if he could rebuild his life soon and find something challenging enough to channelise his energy and dormant capabilities. Although she was a stranger he got the feeling that she believed in him and was going to help him find the opportunity that could make or break him.
She saw promise in the
poems and stray thoughts he had penned in his most anguished moments,
and immediately called up a publisher-and-editor friend of hers. She
fixed up appointments for him and by the end of the day he had an
editing assignment with the publishing house and a series of short
articles for a leading magazine. Before giving in his articles, he met
Kalpana and was surprised at the kind of fine-tuning she did to the
final copy, even though editing was not her field. Extremely grateful,
Mohit couldn’t stop thanking her. At that point it seemed as if he had
entrusted her with his life.
For a few months Mohit kept in touch, sending her copies of stories which were well received. Gradually, the communication became erratic before fading out altogether. Through the city grapevine she heard stories of how he had become arrogant, high-handed and conceited. She knew that the system was geared to tempt and corrupt since the media did play a powerful role in shaping organisations, individuals and start-up companies. Journalists were wooed in style, pampered and, worst of all, their excesses were tolerated. Mohit had apparently found this experience irresistible and over a period of time turned into an unrecognisable creature. His innocent boyishness was replaced with a cocky rakishness. From what Kalpana heard, he was in and out of relationships with his young trainees, even though he was married to his childhood sweetheart. He had come a long way from the sincere small-town boy she had mentored.
She heard of how he had got a young recruit from a five-star hotel suspended simply because he had been denied a particular brand of coffee at 3 am. He had seen to it that the SSP had spoken to his general manager and had his services temporarily withdrawn before dawn broke. It appeased his ego to see that he could "fix people" if they displeased him. She also heard that he was on the payroll of a business group that had political connections. He was "their man" and was amply compensated.
Why did she feel bad, even though she was pragmatic enough to know that over a period of time one’s profession did shape one’s personality? Had she not seen her own father who had served in the Intelligence becoming more and more guarded and suspicious over the years? Or her uncle who was a professor who loved to launch into long-winded, one-sided tirades on society, economy, polity and the general state of world affairs? Or her sister, a finalist in the Miss India contest, who could not think beyond beauty and fashion?
Maybe her sense of hurt
stemmed from the fact that she felt he had betrayed the confidence and
faith she had placed in him. Yes, to know that she had erred in her