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Monday, June 14, 2010

David Davidar - The fallen mango from the Penguin tree

A few days ago a friend of mine had loaned me a book. I had given him a book from my collection and the rule was that whenever you are returning a book you have to loan one of yours too. So it happened that I had in my hand a book whose cover of a blue-and-green tint was as intriguing as its cover picture - that of the blue mangoes. And the fact that it was personally autographed by the author himself was also a kind of interesting factor. I decided I would finish my current reading-companion in a day or two and start with 'The House of The Blue Mangoes.'

I tried a couple of times but somehow I just didnt like the book. It felt like it was too much of an attempt at creating a masterpiece. But that did not mean the critics and hot-shots of the publishing world had dismissed it too. For on the cover jacket there were praises and praises about what a masterpiece the book was and it eventually even made it to the top lists worldwide. But that has nothing to do with good writing or with talent.

It was surprising to see this promising and reputed name in the news for all the wrong reasons..Being sacked from your company, one that you head, and being accused of sexual molestation are not charges you take lightly. The media is having a field day devoting print space to David Davidar day after day. He would have liked it in another setting, but never would he have imagined that there would be a day when his name would be so maligned.

David's 37-year-old colleague, Lisa Rundle, has accused him of sexual molestation. According to her complaint which earned her a prompt dismissal from the Penguin group of which she was an employee, David had been harassing her for the past 3 years, his lust dripping through in her mailbox, and last year, at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October, 52-year-old David appeared at her hotel room door, 'wearing excessive cologne and his shirt undone to the waist.' Not to mention that she asked him to leave but he instead asked her to 'relax and let him come in', after which, according to the complaint, he forced his way inside her room and in a similar fashion, forced his tongue inside her mouth.

Today David has alleged that he was forced to quit Penguin and had not put in his papers, as was given out in the news. He has said that Lisa was his colleague and friend for the past 3 years and he has shocked at the false allegations she has made.

We can only sit and wonder what is the truth behind the entire drama. And more likely than not, we will never even know what really happened. Why would a man, who was till a few days ago the CEO of Penguin Canada and one of the most respected names in the publishing world, suddenly give it all up for one night of lust? Not to mention the fact that he has been happily married for the past 15 years. Why would he make his intentions so obvious and leave trails in the mailbox ? Why would he, a man who knows the power of media today, put himself in a position that can only lead to his downfall? Today David has lashed out at Lisa, claiming he had a lovely relationship with her for the past 3 years as a friend and that he does not understand why she is doing this to him. But would this be such a valid point to make? For havent we heard of countless incidents where friends turn foe? Arent there enough happenings in and around us where friends have turned into predators, where the guy who was loved and trusted suddenly turns into the one who knows how to 'hit upon' his friend, where a friend has actually taken the cover of 'being friend' as an excuse to get too close for comfort.....

On the other hand, there have also been instances where the woman who was initially seen as the victim was actually the one who had done all the plotting and planning, where the man is actually the victim but still becomes a scapegoat in the reigning social rules that always point the accusing finger at the guy first and take the woman's word as the truth. In many cases that have featured in the papers, women have accused men, who have been put to trial, only to be revealed later that it was all part of a carefully thought-out plan.

I cannot comment on the real culprit in the Lisa-David-Penguin case. There is too much at stake here for both. David has a wife and a family that he is answerable to. Lisa took the bold step of speaking out against a wrong done and ended up being wrongly fired. David was fired. Both have lost their jobs and will forever have a taboo on their names, David of course being seen as the culprit till matters dont come to light and Lisa will be considered as the woman who 'invited' trouble. Many corporates are wary of taking such names on board. The fear of a similar situation arising in their own companies is too much to risk. It could be a difficult road ahead for both of them, but on the other hand, it could play to their benefit. David has already mentioned he wants to get back to writing once more. Maybe all this will lead to a tell-all that is already slated for a massive sell-out. The same could also be the case with Ms. Rundle, a tell-all book being the norm these days.

Let's see how these two take it from here... I am sure Penguin will not be the Publishers ;)