‘wtf”, Ashok’s text message read and my heart sank.
‘listen there are others like you. i was only trying to help them,’ I texted back. However, it was too late, because when I gathered the courage to call Ashok thirty minutes later, he did not answer.
I logged in and deleted my facebook status update. Over fifteen people had liked it already.
I went back to bed and tried to sleep, but couldn’t. I watched a movie and later, as dawn broke, went for a run. I always feel good after a run and the shower made me feel even better. I forgot all about Ashok until the bell rang.
‘Come to the station right away,’ the policeman commanded, even as he looked at the plate of half eaten fried eggs.
The Circle Inspector waved Ashok’s note in my face. ‘Sandeep Kumar is responsible for my death,’ it stated cryptically.
‘Oh shit! He actually killed himself!’
‘What did you do?’ the Circle Inspector asked me in a not unkind voice. He was in his early fifties and had lots of grey hair. A man who had risen up through the ranks. This definitely wasn’t the first time someone committed suicide and left behind a note blaming someone else for his death.
I took a deep breath and said, ‘Ashok contacted me last night saying he wanted to talk to me. He said he felt suicidal.’
‘And then?’ They didn’t like the pause I took, but I needed to breathe before I could speak again.
‘I spoke to him for over an hour. Ashok had just lost his job and he is divorced. He thanked me at the end and that was it. I went to bed.’
‘So why’s he blaming you?’
‘I just don’t know.’
They kept me at the station for another hour and then let me go. ‘You must be available if we need you. Don’t leave the city till this case is closed.’
I humbly nodded.
Would they find out about that facebook status update, I wondered. Thankfully Ashok didn’t have many friends and I was sure we didn’t have facebook friends in common. That update had received fifteen likes, which meant at least fifteen had read it. Would any of them hear of Ashok’s suicide and inform the cops? I needn’t have worried since the cops knocked on my door later that evening and took me to the station once again.
‘We’re charging you for abetment,’ the Circle Inspector told me. Ashok’s brother was sitting across the table from him.
‘What did I do?’ I demanded.
Ashok’s brother wordlessly showed me his phone. It had a screenshot of my facebook update. ‘Talked a good friend out of committing suicide. So easy and feel so good.’
‘Get yourself a good lawyer. It shouldn’t be too difficult to convince the judge that you didn’t mean anything.’
‘Didn’t you know that Ashok would read your update?’ his brother tearfully demanded of me.
‘Sorry,’ I said and felt really stupid. ‘How did you see this update?’ I asked even as a constable indicated that I follow him. Ashok’s brother was not friends with me on facebook.
He hesitated. ‘Ashok had liked your update and so it appeared in my feed.’