JournalismPakistan.com April 13, 2019
Has it ever happened to you that you are staying with relatives and friends in their city for a few days and having a good time and then…
You nudge your husband (or wife) in the guest room and say there is some money missing or worse, a piece of jewelry, and now you go into that hissing contest and engage in that frantic throwing of clothes and rummage in your bags and look under the bed but you know it is futile because it has irrevocably gone? Swiped, stolen, no, not dropped or lost or misplaced.
Which means the next dilemma is in do we tell the hosts or shut up about it because it is going to be so embarrassing and what will they do anyway? Then, after you have engaged in your blame game for two and whispered to the kids if they know anything about the missing stuff, the hosts have figured out something is up and they interrupt the family conference with an 'everything ok' query, what are you folks up to, come out and join us.
Either way, it is a disaster. If you tell them, there will be horror and disbelief. The domestic staff will be the first to blame, and that will cause havoc of its own. The rest of the stay will be a roll down the hill. It’s all stiff and starchy and everyone pretending to normality. The hostess saying something righteously stupid like let us compensate you, and you say, no, no, no, lamely suggesting you may have miscalculated. It is all your fault and let's forget about it but the elephant isn't leaving the room and you know it has settled right there and will stay till you leave, never to come back again.
The domestic staff will be sullen.
The hosts will walk on eggshells and say their people would never do this; they are trustworthy.
People will make gross suggestions, like you sure you didn't spend it, or drop it from your purse or give the wrong sum and you wish they would shut up because you did none of those things, but they will keep pouring doubt into your mind.
You will find yourself saying a silly thing, like oh, forget about it except you cannot forget it.
Then you will say, it wasn't precious, which means it was and if it is cash, the hosts will want to know how much and you will lie and the whole mess will become messier.
And if you do not tell them because what's happened has happened and you and your husband have already had a fight over 'carelessness'. You should have locked it up and not 'tempted' the help or anyone else, after all, there were people over for dinner last night, and your purse was unguarded, and we really cannot make an issue out of it, we are enjoying their hospitality.
Now, the misery dripping down your face and the plastic smiles and fake laughter and the inner anger will all add up to make the rest of the stay truly miserable because look, the stuff has gone and you can be miffed about it. It is such a feeling of invasion. Not easy to pretend everything is okay. Theft hurts, especially when it is domestic and no burglar entered the home.
And when you cut short your vacation and leave, that's it; this friendship is doomed.
If this is a bad scenario, it is even worse when a peer or a colleague does the dirty and takes away something from your place. By sheer process of elimination and common sense and logic and lack of all other options, you know who it is but you cannot accuse them or confront them and you seethe with the injustice of it all. But there is no point in taking that person on because you cannot prove it, you just know it, even the window of opportunity you gave for the theft to occur is clear in your mind, and there is no room for doubt. Yes, sad but true - the so-called friends and visitors and guests and even those you trust do steal and swipe and put their paws into the cookie jar. How do they explain it away to themselves? So and so won't miss it, they can afford it.
But much worse than these two scenarios is the stolen secret or idea. It does not matter whether it is business or the creative process or a presentation when someone close to you takes your idea and does not give you credit for it and is now a success, but you are nowhere in the picture, and you are the one who did all the start-up work. And you want to scream to the world that this was your brainchild, your project, but the world is applauding the idea thief, and he or she is getting all the laurels, and you don't count for anything. And what is worse, there is nothing you can do because you never signed a contract, you have nothing legal to back you and trust is that wriggling little worm in the dust.
There must be very few folks who have been fortunate enough not to have had at least one of these experiences. That includes you.
Guess you count your blessings it has not happened more often.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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