Each day can bring surprises into your life that can shock you into disbelief and Saturday evening was one such occasion! It's a good thing that I have conditioned myself to carry an overdose of composure in my survival kit, because the story I am going to share with you is so bizarre that it really puts to test the faith of friendships to it's ultimate! But hey, let me not keep you in suspense any longer, and let me begin the story of what most certainly could become a C grade bollywood flick that would bomb in it's first week of release, because the villain got the plot all wrong!
This story is in continuation with what I had shared with you in my blog space earlier, of how family friends were point blank refusing to pay a pending bill to an electrical agency that they contracted via our reference. This agency has worked on all the properties we own and is contracted too by well known industrialists in Baroda from over the last twenty five years, and has an impeccable record of work ethics and known for the reliability of his work. Two years have lapsed and this poor gentleman is still waiting to receive his complete payment.
Over the last six months he has been requesting the mustachioed gent from Rajkot to cough up the owing money, but to no avail. Today, tomorrow, next week and the month after saw no change in the situation. Repeated phone calls and visits had no effect. Finally the aggrieved party requested Surendran and me to intervene with the hope of resolving the impasse and get the payment addressed. Imagining that my personal friendship of thirty four years would amount to something (stupid sentimental me!), I tried to appeal to the decency of the defaulting party, even offering that at a later stage I would gift him a work as a gesture of goodwill for his co-operation, as I felt implicated in this matter purely because : a) the agency had accepted to do the work on my insistence, and b) both parties were old associations that I valued and I wanted to clear the legitimate payment owing, but allow my defaulting friend to save face too.
But guess what?!! I was made to dance about to try to convene a meeting (suggested by the defaulting party to analyse the bills) , and finally told over the phone that I could very well lump it because Mr. Muscle Man stated that he had no intention of paying up! Wow! Knock me down with a feather! Blistering barnacles the pirate ship from Rajkot had hoisted the black flag and was sailing the waters to boldly plunder and loot!!!
I was aghast. I blustered and spluttered like a fat fish in a shallow tank into the phone and then thought it was getting out of hand . Surendran and I felt it was time to meet him and ask for the charade to stop, and for him to behave with a decency that our common social standing and education demanded, which I naively believed our friendship could expect despite all this murkiness that had set in from his side. But on visiting his office he was out. Rather wearied by this saga, both Surendran and I decided to draft a letter that conveyed our feelings of disappointment, and to express that we no longer were wishing to further this matter any longer as his position to default on the pending payment was now established. We planned to send this letter after the weekend and to put this unfortunate matter aside as we were out of depth in this con game and could clearly comprehend that this payment was not forthcoming through our intervention. It was also my father's death anniversary the next day and I did not want to shadow the event with this episode any longer.
But the Rajkot man was all pumped up! Tally ho! Let's go for the kill!!! So off he went and registered a complaint against us at a police station (!) stating that we were threatening his life (!!) and that he feared we would damage his property (!!!) and that (yes this is the cherry on the icing!) we were extorting money from him (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Arre bhai ! How low does one stoop to wiggle out of paying a legitimate bill to a working class person who has completed their work for you and how can one fabricate stories that are transparently ridiculous?!!!
When we went to meet the police they immediately recognised the situation for what it was! We were accorded the utmost respect by all the police officers who lamented over the fact that a friend could have behaved in such an unscrupulous way, as all the pending bills of the agency spelt out the real story in an instant. We were told by the police that this was a common practice with people who want to avoid paying up their debts. Well the shoe is now on the other foot and the farce has been exposed for what it is!
But that aside. The travesty in all this is that the wife of this gentleman has been my dearest and closest friend for over a decade! We have always stood up to such injustices together and abhorred those who lack the courage to be accountable in life. We hang out together, and have depended on each other for so many things that defy description! To me the tragedy in all this is her folly to not act upon what she knows to be the truth, because knowing her as I do, she could not have been party to this atrocious behaviour, where the breakdown of common decency has occurred in a way that is unforgivable and completely bizarre! Our friends are outraged and up in arms at the viciousness of her husband trying to have us arrested! I think we should understand that there must be limits to acting out on anger and rage, whatever the situation maybe. Overstep the precincts of decency and people will know your game for what it is, because to vilify the reputation of someone is truly criminal. I still have faith that his wife will be guided by her wisdom and put an end to this uncalled for mess that has only boomeranged in their face. Call me naive, but I still choose to want to believe that true friendships should be valued!