The Metamorphosis

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Post  Guest on Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:41 am


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Post  Guest on Fri Nov 22, 2013 10:00 am

The complete letter of Tejpal's assault victim is given in the article at the link. She is a very brave girl. Spare a thought though for what must be going through the minds of Tejpal's wife and his two young daughters. Madhu Trehan in a recent interview said two very sensible things. Tejpal should on his own have handed himself over to the police. Secondly, he needs to shut down Tehelka now. ( Tejpal is the editor in chief, and also the owner of Tehelka).

I am saddened to see the dark side of Tejpal.

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Post  Guest on Fri Nov 22, 2013 10:43 am

Rajdeep Sardesai grills Shoma Chaudhry.

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Post  Guest on Fri Nov 22, 2013 2:42 pm

Dear Shoma,

It is extremely painful for me to write this email to you – I have
struggled with finding an easier way to say it, but there isn’t one.
The editor in chief of Tehelka, Tarun Tejpal, sexually assaulted me at
Think on two occasions last week.

From the very first moment, I wanted to call you, or find you and tell you what he had done to me – but
given how absorbed you were at Think; preparing for and conducting
sessions, and the fact that it was impossible for the two of us to get
even a minute alone together, I could not. To add to this, I had to
process the fact that it was Tarun who molested me — my father’s ex
colleague and friend, Tiya’s dad, and someone I had so deeply
respected and admired for so many years.

Both times, I returned to my room in a completely distraught
condition, trembling and crying. I went straight to Shougat and
Ishan’s room, where I called G Vishnu and told them what had been done
to me. (All three of them are copied on this email. You can contact
them for any clarifications you see necessary). The second time he
molested me, I even told Tiya what happened. When he heard I’d told
Tiya (she confronted him), he lashed out at me, and I became truly
terrified of what he would do. I avoided him in all situations except
in rooms full of people, until I checked out of Think on Sunday.

As of Saturday evening, he sent me text messages insinuating that I
misconstrued “a drunken banter”. That is not what happened. Banter
does not involve forcing yourself on someone, trying to disrobe them,
and penetrate them with your fingers despite them pleading for you to
stop. As you read through the details of what happened in the
attachment to this mail, I hope you will also understand how traumatic
and terrifying it has been for me to report this to you — and yet how
critical it is that Tehelka constitute an anti sexual harassment cell
as per the Vishakha guidelines immediately, to investigate this
matter. At the very least, I will need a written apology from Mr
Tejpal and an acknowledgement of the same to be circulated through the
organization. It cannot be considered acceptable for him to treat a
female employee in this way.

On the night of 7th November 2013, the opening night of Tehelka’s
Think festival, I had discharged my duties for the day as the
chaperone for Mr Robert De Niro. As it was Mr De Niro and his
daughter’s first night in Goa and at the festival, my editor in chief
Mr Tarun Tejpal accompanied Mr De Niro, Drena De Niro (his daughter)
and I to Mr De Niro’s suite to wish him goodnight. (As his chaperone,
my work was to be available all day to Mr De Niro and Drena, take them
sightseeing, make sure they were well looked after in Goa and at the
Hyatt – until they retired to their suite at night. )

As we left the suite, Mr Tejpal and I were in conversation — I have
known him since I was a child, he had worked closely with my father
who was also a journalist, and after my father’s accident Mr Tejpal
had always been a paternal figure to me. He was responsible for
offering me my first job, and was always just a phone call away
whenever I needed his advice on a story or life. His daughter, Tiya
Tejpal and I are very close friends as well.

As we made our way out of the elevator of Block 7 at the Grand Hyatt,
Mr Tejpal held my arm and pulled me back into the lift. He said –
“Let’s go wake up Bob” (Mr De Niro) and I asked him why he wanted to
do that. I then realized that Mr Tejpal was simply pressing buttons on
the lift’s panel to make the elevator stay in circuit, preventing it
from stopping anywhere, and for the doors to open.

At this point, he began to kiss me — from the first moment of his
doing so, I asked him to stop, citing several reasons, including my
friendship to Tiya, my closeness to his family, the fact that he had
known me since I was a child, the fact that I worked for Tehelka and
for Shoma Chaudhury – who is my managing editor and mentor. It was
like talking to a deaf person. Mr Tejpal lifted my dress up, went down
on his knees and pulled my underwear down. He attempted to perform
oral sex on me as I continued to struggle and hysterically asked him
to stop. At that moment he began to try and penetrate me with his
fingers, I became scared and pushed him hard and asked him to stop the
lift. He would not listen. The lift stopped on the ground floor as Mr
Tejpal’s hands were on me and could not press the button for yet
another floor to keep it in circuit. As soon as the doors opened, I
picked up my underwear and began walking out of the elevator rapidly –
he was still following me, asking me  what the matter was.

I said “It’s all wrong. I work for you and Shoma.” He said first “It’s
alright to be in love with more than one person,” and then he said,
“Well, this is the easiest way for you to keep your job.” I was
walking still faster, blinking back tears.

By this time, we had made our way from Block 7 to the main lawns of
the Grand Hyatt, where I walked into the grassy dinner area full of
people and Mr Tejpal walked off towards the performance area. Right as
soon as he was out of sight, I took a taxi back to my hotel – the
International Centre for Goa, where the Tehelka staff was staying, and
went to the room where the Literary Editor Shougat Dasgupta and the
Photo Editor Ishan Tankha were staying. I also called another friend
and colleague – investigative reporter G Vishnu to the room and told
them what had occurred. While the four of us were talking in the
balcony, Mr Tejpal sent me a text message from his personal phone
number at 1.17 am, which said “The fingertips”. This was the extent he
had managed to penetrate me before I pushed him and ran out of the
lift. I told the people with me on the balcony about this. Some of us
considered resigning as soon as Think was over. I called my boyfriend
Aman Sethi in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from Ishan Tankha’s iPhone and
told him what had happened.

I was confused, hurt and really, really scared. At that point I did
not want to lose my job. And so the next morning, I went about my work
determined not to give Mr Tejpal or Tehelka a reason to fire me, as I
was sure they would do once this story got out. At a few points of the
day, I discussed the events of the previous night with Shougat
Dasgupta, G Vishnu and Ishan Tankha, who were concerned about me after
the state they had seen me in the previous night. In the afternoon, I
accompanied Mr De Niro, his daughter, Sir VS Naipaul, Lady Naipaul and
Mr Tejpal’s wife to the Governor’s bungalow for lunch.

Given the company we were in, I did not make any mention of what had
occurred to Ms Geetan Batra, Mr Tejpal’s wife. Once I had escorted Mr
De Niro back to his room post lunch, he expressed a desire to attend
one of the sessions at the Main Hall. I brought him down to the Green
Room, where Mr Tejpal found us, and asked me to bring Mr De Niro back
down for Mr Amitabh Bachchan’s session as he wanted the two to meet. I
took Mr De Niro and his daughter shopping to Panjim, and brought them
back in time for Mr Bachchan’s session as instructed. Once the session
was done, Mr Tejpal, Mr De Niro, Mr Bachchan and a few other members
of the film industry, lawyers, politicians etc were supposed to meet
at the Block 7 Grand Club for drinks.

I escorted Mr De Niro and Drena to this bar, told them I would return
to my hotel, change, and be right back. While I was getting dressed at
my hotel, Mr Tejpal called me from ThakurJi’s phone (Thakurji is the
caretaker and manager of Tehelka’s Bombay office premises) and asked
me where I was. I informed him I was just about to leave for the Grand
Hyatt. In the taxi I noticed he had already sent me two text messages
on my phone which said “Where r u?” at 8:29and then “??” at 8:42. from
his personal number.

I replied with the following messages: “On my way to the lounge” 8.42
pm, “Had to sort out a lost package for Drena and get a bit
presentable. See you in 10” at 8.44 pm and “Call tee she needs you” at
8.47 pm as Tiya had messaged me asking to help her find Tarun. At this
point I was trying to be as normal and professional as possible and
somehow get through my duties.

Five minutes later, as I was walking into the Grand Club at Block 7,
Mr Tejpal was coming out of the lounge. He pointed at me asking me to
stop. I was already worried that I was late and that Mr De Niro had
asked for me. Mr Tejpal came to me and said “Come up with me, we have
to get something from Bob’s room”. I was frightened that this would
lead to a repeat of the previous night and so I said, “What does he
need? I’ll go get it.” I was scared of getting into the lift with him
again, and more terrified that he was going to try and take me into a
room this time. By this time he was holding me by the wrist and had
taken me into the lift (which is barely a few steps away from the
lobby of block 7 where he had asked me to wait). When the doors
closed, he started to try and kiss me again. I said “Tarun, please,
no, just stop,” he pulled away, smiled, patted my cheek and said “Why?
Ok. I’ll stop.” I said again “This just isn’t right. Tiya is my best
friend. I had lunch with Geetan today. “

He smiled again and just for a moment I thought I had appealed to his
better sense. I turned away from him, desperately waiting for the door
to open (there are only three floors in Block 7 (G, 1 and 2), we were
between floors). Within seconds of my turning around, he started to
lift up my dress. He lifted it all the way up and said “You’re
unbelievable”. The door opened on the second floor, on Mr De Niro’s
floor —  and he said again – “The universe is telling us something” to
which I said “I’m taking the stairs” and started to walk out. He
pulled me back in, sensing that I was on the verge of hysteria — by
this point, he was totally comfortable physically manhandling me, but
sensing my sheer panic, he did not touch me until the lift reached the
ground floor. Right as the doors were about to open, he patted my
behind once more.

I walked out of the lift, went to the Grand Club and immediately
informed Ishan Tankha that Mr Tejpal had tried to molest me again.
Ishan said “Again? What the fuck is wrong with him?” He was completely
disgusted and said once more that we should just resign immediately.
As I was to accompany Mr De Niro to the dining area, I somehow
composed myself. Mr De Niro was mobbed by fans – and I had to take him
away from the main garden to the Capiz Bar. I was sitting at the Capiz
Bar with Mr De Niro and his daughter when TiyaTejpal came there to
join us.

This was the first time the two of us had really met since the
incident of the previous night. Since I had moved to Mumbai about a
year and a half ago, Tiya had grown to become one of my closest
friends. She lives across the road from my house in Mumbai and barely
a day had passed when the two of us did not meet or talk to each other
constantly. She was sitting beside me, and Mr De Niro was absorbed in
conversation with his daughter. I could not keep something of this
magnitude from her. I told her she would hate me for what I was
telling her – but that Mr Tejpal had tried to molest me on these two
separate occasions. I said “He tried to shove his tongue down my
throat and then took my panties off”, when Tiya replied saying “I saw
him do this to a woman when I was thirteen, so it doesn’t surprise me
anymore,” but she was clearly disgusted.

Tiya left the Capiz Bar right after this. In half an hour, Mr De Niro
and Drena asked to be dropped back to their room. They were extremely
upset at the day’s events because Mr De Niro had all but been
assaulted by fans at the dinner table, and they asked me to convey
this to Mr Tejpal. When I came down from Block 7, I found Mr Tejpal
sitting at a table with several people and called him away from the
table, but still in full view of everyone, so I could relay Mr De
Niro’s message privately.

I said “Bob is really upset about tonight, he got mobbed really
badly..” to which Mr Tejpal replied “I don’t give a fuck about Bob.
How could you tell Tiya what happened?” I said “Tarun, I told you Tiya
and I are close and what you did wasn’t okay, I had to tell her,” to
which he said “She’s my daughter. Do you even understand what the word
means? Just get away from me, I’m so fucking pissed off with you right

I left from the spot crying, found Tiya outside her room in the main
performance area and asked her what she had said to her father. She
said “There was no other way. As soon as you told me I wished you
hadn’t, but you can’t tell me what to say to him – I told him to keep
it in his pants.”

I said “I’m probably going to lose my job over this”, she agreed, but also said “It’ll be a bad phase but it’ll pass.” On this night as well, I left the Grand Hyatt and went to my hotel, found Shougat Dasgupta, Ishan Tankha and G Vishnu and told them what had happened. I also called my boyfriend and told him that Mr Tejpal was aware of the fact that I wasn’t staying quiet, and that he was extremely angry that I had told his daughter. The next morning, I called my mother and told her everything that had happened. Everyone was most worried for my safety and advised me to leave Think as soon as possible — however since my day’s work involved me staying away from the Grand Hyatt and staying at a completely different part of Goa for the day with Mr De Niro and his daughter, I felt temporarily safe.

At this time MrTejpal sent me the following texts from his personal number.

1.“I hope you told Tiya that it was just drunken banter, and nothing else”

To which I replied – “I told her we were both drunk” – because it was
true that everyone had had a few drinks on the first night. But not
the second, when he assaulted me minutes after I had reached the Grand
Hyatt. However, this was the first time Mr Tejpal had said anything to
me after lashing out at me the previous night, and I was still very
afraid of him.

He then sent me a second message:

2. “And just banter, nothing else” – to which I did not reply, because
there was no way what he had done to me could have been described as

Sensing that I had clammed up at his attempt to sugar-coat what really
happened, he sent me a third message:

3.  “Why?? What’s happened??”

I did not reply to this message. Within minutes, he sent me a fourth
message, one that convinced me he saw absolutely nothing wrong with
what he had done, and was in fact now trying to shame me for talking
to Tiya:

4. “I can’t believe u went and mentioned even the smallest thing to
her. What an absence of any understanding of a parent child

After this message, I made sure to stay away from Mr Tejpal except
when we were in extremely public situations only – such as the
Speakers Green Room at the Hyatt, or the lobby of the hotel. That
evening as well, I steered completely clear of him. He made no mention
of anything that had occurred the next day, and the only thought on my
mind was to get Mr De Niro on his plane and leave Think. I had to
speak to MrTejpal several times on Sunday the 9th of November to
coordinate Mr De Niro’s travel plans, but in these calls he made no
mention of anything that had occurred. Once I dropped Mr De Niro to
the Goa Airport at 4.30 pm, I had no further contact with Mr Tejpal.

However, on 16.11.2013, Mr Tejpal messaged me a number of times

1.“Have you spoken to Tee? Is she Ok?”

To which I replied: “Why would she be ok about the fact that you
sexually assaulted her best friend, that is me?”

2. “What’s with saying this awful stuff??”

To which I replied: Do not send me any messages. You are lying and you
know that.

3. “Oh is that so? I cherished you like one of my best kids always,
all these years; and because of one drunken banter you so easily say
these awful things.

To which I replied: It was twice Tarun, not once and it was no banter.
You did the most horrible things to me and I certainly was not drunk.
I asked you to stop repeatedly.

4 “Oh so that’s what you told Tee. No wonder she’s so madly upset.
Its ok. Am not going to contest anything with her. Will let time and
my love heal what it can.”

5. “Don’t think I’ve been more saddened in the longest time”

I have no doubt that Mr Tejpal was trying to establish his innocence
in a devious manner. If he needed to get in touch with his daughter,
he could have done so anytime he desired, through his wife or daughter
or nephew or anyone from his family without messaging me about her, or
falsely claiming that all that happened was ‘a drunken banter’. This
was no banter, it was most clearly sexual assault. As a reporter for
Tehelka who writes on violence against women, I suddenly find myself
in the horrific situation of discovering what it is like to be on the
receiving end of this violence from a powerful man I once deeply
admired and respected. I truly hope that the idea of Tehelka is still
intact – and that you will conduct an inquiry into this matter at the

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Post  Guest on Fri Nov 22, 2013 3:57 pm

I didnt want to write this but since Parsa has posted his charitable thoughts on Tarun, I must too since We three were in the same team at India Today and we three togther laughed the loudest. As our immediate boss both of us admired and learnt from Tarun. His is a case of life imitating his own fiction. He has become one of the characters he created and so be foresaw his own destiny. I cannot reveal all details about this particular case and some earlier ones..

The decline of Tarun as a human being coincided with the decline of Tehelka into a slightly shady venture . The magazine is funded by a Trinamool M.P. who is also India's Chicken King. The start of the Think festival was the beginning of Tarun's personal decline and that of his magazine. He and his sister stopped at nothing to get money out of corporates. Tehelka plummeted the depths just as it had climbed the heights of glory and made us all proud. For that itself it has to close down. The biggest story that Tehelka had was killed and "monetised". That corporate is the main sponsor of Think fest . Tarun had lost all sense of propriety, character . His descent into criminality after climbing the Everest of glory is an astounding, shocking story. More so to his old pals for whom there was nothing better in life than drinking with him and recounting tales. Oh how he could laugh.

No man in India achieved all that Tarun did. He took on governments with a panache only he could summon, he wrote the best Indian fiction , though the establishment and readers ignored it, he created the best Indian magazine and now its gone. He wrote the best essays in the history of modern Indian journalism and if you read all of them, including a classic on the Punjabi, we will be astonished as to how a man embraced all what he hated and criticised. With pride he showed me the page with the typical Post-It pasted on it by Aroon Purie and written in red fountain pen ink: " Brilliant. Use some words I can understand."

That was around the time that Tarun in the first of his moves that he would make throughout his life, took away the Essay page and the famous Books page (which i was to later edit) from Shekhar Gupta (Indian Express) who guarded his turf like a bull dog. "you are a smooth operator man," I told him and he gave me one of his impish similes. He was only beginning out in life.

I knew he was best qualified to edit those pages and he took the pages to another level altogether a task I found difficult to match as a later Lit Editor of IT. We worked together closely for the release of Arundhati Roy's novel which he published. By that time he has reached another level. He was closing in on the stratosphere.

Soon Arundhati was dropped. Naipaul was next. Ten years later in his house I dined with Naipaul who decorated his drawing room as if all the Naipaul books stacked there weren't enough. The man had bought his hero home. Naipaul was the only hero and idol he had. "Boss read Naipaull boss,: he kept telling us in the newsroom as he sat there with his feet up on the desk even as AP walked past.There in Tarun house I saw Naipaul eating from Tarun's hands. Even in the presence of a Nobel prize winner,Tarun was King.

When i see him on TV being taken away, one part of me will die. For many others there will be reason for gloating because he stamped on them and destroyed them. For the many women colleagues and friends I know who he tried his tricks with, it will be justice.

Generous and loving to a fault, he later became a killer of stories and careers. I cannot fathom all this. I am utterly broken. I knew early this year that his end was near because he had gone beyond the Line of Control and once you cross that there is no return. If you hit a bank once, you don't stop with that. You always want a second hit. it is the same with assaults and one night stands. He was a Messi in this difficult art, dodging though the most difficult of terrains and 'scoring' at will and confounding his victims leaving them broken, shattered and often jobless.

Starting with India Today, as he climbed step after step, he lost interest in doing journalistic work. His mind was elsewhere. Like all great men he lived in the future but like all fallen men he could not see his own life and character being chipped away by the flesh eating bacilli of ambition, greed and ruthlessness.

One day late at night in CP after we had put together another great India Today issue ( i haven't read IT for 5-8 years now ) and we struggled to kick start his ramshackle scooter, a guy approached us for 'illegal' parking fees. Tarun immediately took out the only 5 rs he ad and gave it to him. I protested and turning around he said.:

"He also has to live, boss." That sentence changed me.

And now he is gone. He cannot live any more.

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Post  Guest on Fri Nov 22, 2013 4:39 pm

Tarun Tejpal's 'Uncondition Apology'
Posted by Sundeep Dougal on 22 November 2013 at 9:29 p.m.

Following is the full text of the email sent by Tarun Tejpal to the young journalist who has levelled serious charges of sexual assault against him on November 19, 2013.

Dear XXX,

This is the hardest thing I will ever do in my life. You are a young woman I have been very proud of, as a colleague’s daughter, and then as a colleague in my own office. I have watched you grow and mature professionally into a journalist of great integrity and promise.

It wrenches me beyond describing, therefore, to accept that I have violated that long-standing relationship of trust and respect between us and I apologise unconditionally for the shameful lapse of judgement that led me to attempt a sexual liaison with you on two occasions on 7 November and 8 November 2013, despite your clear reluctance that you did not want such attention from me.

I understand the extreme distress you have been feeling and if regret could turn time back, the force of mine would surely place us all back in a space and time before this terrible lapse.

I know you feel I used my position as Editor, Tehelka to force my attention on you, and I acknowledge that I did at one point say to your contention that I was your boss, “That makes it simpler,” but I do want to put on record that the moment those words escaped my lips, I retracted them saying “I withdraw that straight away – no relationship of mine has anything at all, ever, to do with that”. I want to reiterate that again today: despite my colossal lapse, working and succeeding in Tehelka will never be predicated on anyone acquiescing to anything untoward. It never has and never will. Having said that though, I acknowledge that there is an inherent disbalance of power in my position as editor-in-chief and you as an employee of Tehelka and there is absolutely no ground or circumstance in which I should have violated the propriety and trust embedded in that relationship.

Tehelka has a proud legacy and body of work, to which you yourself and legions of other journalists have contributed. As the founder and editor-in-chief, I have helmed and nurtured this proud institution, and I cannot imagine what insanity drove me to compromise these long, proud years of trust and public work.

There are many, many reasons, therefore, why I am smothered with regret. But I want you to know that foremost among them is the fact that I have hurt you and broken your trust in me, and that of many others around me. I have often spoken for the absolute rights and freedoms of women, and it shames me beyond words, to find myself located in this awful context. I would say it was a moment of insanity, except that would mean evading responsibility for it, and that I will not do. I hold myself, first and last, accountable.

I know Shoma has urged you not to leave Tehelka, and even as I acknowledge that I have lost the right to say this to you, I would urge you not to leave either. At the very least, I would like to assure you that the space to do your work proudly and freely, without worrying about fear or favour, will always be available to you here.

For long years, you have known a different man, a man and editor you trusted and were proud to know. In extreme contrition, I would like you to know that but for this unconscionable lapse, that man still exists and holds you in highest regard.

If an apology can heal, please consider this an unconditional one.



In response to this email, the complainant responded on November 21

Subject: Re Tarun's apology

Dear Shoma,

Tarun’s account of what happened on the 7th and 8th of November at Think differs from mine on the following counts:

1. The use of the words “sexual liaison” is a clear misrepresentation of facts, and an attempt to obfuscate the truth — that he sexually molested me, on two separate occasions and that he violated my bodily integrity and trust.

2. He did not even once, utter the words “I withdraw that straight away – no relationship of mine has anything at all, ever, to do with that”. I have written this in my response to his ‘private’ email to me as well, which is cc’d to you and my colleagues who have known about him sexually molesting me from the 7th of November.

In conversations with my colleagues you have said that you do not contest the facts of my testimony, which is why you do not see it necessary to constitute an anti sexual harassment cell as per the Vishakha guidelines in this case. However, given that his apology presents an entirely different version from my testimony, i.e. attempts to establish that a “sexual liaison” took place as opposed to him sexually molesting me, I insist once again in the spirit of justice, to constitute an anti sexual harassment cell in accordance with the Vishakha guidelines to investigate this matter.

Further, I request you to publicly withdraw your statement that I or other Tehelka journalists are “satisfied”, since my colleagues do not know the full extent of what was done to me, and I am deeply hurt that as my mentor, you could suggest in any way that this blatant misrepresentation of facts would be satisfactory to me.

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Post  Guest on Fri Nov 22, 2013 4:43 pm


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Post  Guest on Fri Nov 22, 2013 6:33 pm


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Post  Guest on Wed Nov 27, 2013 3:04 pm

Tarun Tejpal had sent his junior colleague an "informal" letter of apology on November 19 - before the second letter of apology that later became public. In it, he suggested that he was unaware that their encounters were non-consensual and asked her to "forgive and forget" the incidents. The woman journalist, in a scathing reply, countered his version of the events point by point. She said she had asked him to stop the moment he laid hands on her, going on to add: "We have often spoken of "what turns men into beasts" at Tehelka edit meetings, you yourself have commissioned several stories on this. It is this - not being able to take no for an answer."

Both letters are reproduced below with suitable omissions to protect identities:

This is Tarun Tejpal's letter:

November 19
Tarun J Tejpal to ---------

Dear ---------,
This is not the formal apology you seek. That will follow in a few minutes too. This is the informal one, for you and me.
I am sorry at the immense distress that's been caused to you by my lapse of judgment, but I want you to know its been totally devastating for me too, in every possible way (and since you know Tiya and Geetan well, you would know what I am saying).

This is for me to figure out how it went so terribly misunderstood and wrong. To begin with, for ten years at Tehelka one has ensured no shadow of anything limits or cramps the women journalists. At every forum, public and private, I have lauded the great work done by Tehelka's women reporters and editors; and have personally always stayed at arm's length. You yourself were always treated with the highest regard and accommodation and affection, and nothing ever asked of you save great work. Your continuous growth was always a source of pride. That you were tasked to escort De Niro was merely the latest token of our trust.

The context that ill-fated evening, of our conversation, as you will recall, was heavily loaded. We were playfully and flirtatiously talking about desire, sex; you were telling me the (name deleted) story in graphic detail, and about (name deleted, her boyfriend), and the near-impossibility of fidelity; and of the aftermath of meeting me one stormy evening in my office when I was sitting watching the thunderclouds. I also want to clarify that yes, you did say at one point that I was your boss, and I did reply "that makes it simpler" but in the very same breath and sentence I said to you "I withdraw that straight away - no relationship of mine has anything at all, ever, to do with that".
It was in this frivolous, laughing mood that the encounter took place. I had no idea that you were upset, or felt I had been even remotely non-consensual, until Tiya came and spoke to me the next night. I was shocked and devastated at the time. Both because you felt I had imposed on you (which had neither been my reading or intention), and because I felt I had been totally irresponsible and foolish to have anything furtive to do with my daughter's intimate friend. At that very moment I was filled with shame, and still am. (And what is not true is that I ever, even remotely, whispered any word in intimidation.)

You have made it clear that I read it all wrong, and I will not dispute it, nor underplay your anger and hurt. This is easily the worst moment of my life - something ostensibly playful gone so horribly wrong, damaging of all that I hold dear in life, from people to principles.

I ask you to forgive and forget it. I will meet your mom and apologise to her too - and (name deleted, her boyfriend) if you so wish. I also want you to keep working at Tehelka as you always have, reporting to Shoma as you do. Both Tehelka and Shoma have never let you down.

My punishment has already been upon me, and will probably last till my last day.

Sent from BlackBerry(r) on Airtel
November 20

This is the woman journalist's rebuttal to Tejpal's letter:

From: --------
To: Tarun J Tejpal
Subject: Re: Personal
1. The conversation from that night was not "heavily loaded" or "flirtatious" - you were talking about "sex" or "desire" because that is what you usually choose to speak to me about, unfortunately, never my work, which if you had had occasion to read, you might not have attempted to sexually molest me, and certainly would have known that there was no way that I would stay silent about it and just vanish. There was no "aftermath" of that evening with the "thunderclouds" - this is exactly what happened: I wanted to discuss the first story I had written about a rape survivor with you. Ritu called me to your office, I walked in and you were lying on the couch with the lights off. I asked you if you wanted me to turn he lights on, and you refused. You continued to lie on the couch. I sat on a chair across from you in the same room and told you the survivor's story. I wish again, that you remembered the professional reason I had met you that evening, instead of the storm and the thunderclouds.

2. This is what non-consent constitutes: the moment you laid a hand on me, I started begging you to stop. I invoked every single person and principle that was important to us - Tiya, Geetan, Shoma, (name deleted, the woman's father), the fact that you were my employer, to make you stop. You refused to listen. In fact, you went ahead and decided to molest me again on the following night. We have often spoken of "what turns men into beasts" at Tehelka edit meetings, you yourself have commissioned several stories on this. It is this - not being able to take no for an answer.

3. You never, even once uttered the following words: "I withdraw that straight away - no relationship of mine has anything at all, ever, to do with that". If your attempt at sexual molestation were really as consensual as you seem to imply that it was Tarun, why would you have suddenly switched to speaking in legal terms in a "frivolous, laughing" moment?

4. Not only did you lash out at me verbally for telling Tiya, you also sent me a text message the next morning saying "I can't believe you went and told her even the smallest thing. What a complete absence of understanding of a parent-child relationship".

Tarun, I can't believe you think molesting an employee your daughter's age, who is also your daughter's friend is something you'd describe as "the smallest thing". What an absence of understanding of what Tehelka stands for.
Unfortunately, your desire to apologize to (name deleted, her boyfriend) only reeks of your own patriarchal notion that men own and possess female bodies, and that since you violated what you recognize as his "property", you are in some way accountable to him. The only people you owe an apology to are your employees at Tehelka, for desecrating their and my faith in you. Please do not attempt any further personal correspondence with me - you lost that privilege when you violated my trust and body.

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