With letters getting leaked only to go missing all through this Tehelka Rape Scandal, I have decided to post copies of new ones here, just to be sure that they don’t go missing or change after factoring into public perception in specific ways, like the original one.
This is the letter Tarun Tejpal wrote to the victim before he sent her his formal apology that she had asked for (will try to find it and post copy of that too).
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 Bob Geldof story in graphic detail, and about Aman, 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 Aman 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.