“Tobgay, did you see what’s written about you on Bhutanese Forum?” Tobgay's phone kept ringing every now and then. He put it off.
Khandruma, an anonymous Facebook account has posted seven paragraphs long fictitious story about Tobgay out of nowhere. He would have just laughed about it if it hadn't involved his wife and daughter.
|Pic Source: Forbes|
His sister had driven from Phuntsholing and brother from Paro. His mother-in-law had arrived quickly to check on her daughter who had been shattered. Close relatives were walking in one after another as if someone had died in the house. The energy in the room was intense, heavily loaded with rage. Everyone seemed to want to find out who Khandruma was. They were ready for blood.
The vicious post that was shared in a group called Bhutanese Forum was being read by thousands and shared by a few hundreds of jobless people who had nothing to do with it. If it was an important message that required to be shared, people won’t be so keen. Did they know they were helping the attacker destroy the family?
Of course, in their minds, Tobgay deserved to be punished and by sharing the post and putting up nasty comments, they were only doing their moral duty of punishing the wrong. One article, not even written well, was enough to let people think ill of him and write awful comments against him and his family. Only a few people have expressed sympathy for him. There was hardly any friend who defended him.
In the post, Tobgay was accused of misusing his duty car for his family. He was alleged of being promoted unfairly because he was related to the secretary. He was accused of sexually harassing three female colleagues. So far he took it with a smile, but what caused him to lose it all was the attack on his wife and daughter that followed. His wife was accused of sleeping around with her colleagues and ex-boyfriends. "May the little one not turn out to be like her mother."
He wanted revenge. But whom to take the revenge on? The enemy had no identity, there was no way he could find who wrote it. He could not think of anyone who would do that to him. In fact, at the moment he was angry with everyone; his colleagues, his friends, and even the random people who liked the post or people who have shared it. Everyone seemed guilty in his eyes. His wife made a long list of people who had liked, commented or shared the post. She had made up her mind that should she ever meet them in person she was going to spite on their faces.
For someone to call her a hoe and accused her of bearing a child from another man, she thought that someone must be the worst enemy anyone could have. She could hardly think of anyone, living or dead, who could hate her so much. With nowhere to outpour her rage, she locked herself in her bathroom and looked for any medication that could put her to sleep and help her forget everything.
The Police registered the case but there was nothing much they could do. All they could legally do was to create a list of suspects and question them, but Tobgay didn't want to do that. He didn't want innocent people to be questioned by the police. It was frustrating that the police of a country did not have the power to ask Facebook to reveal an anonymous user or remove a post. The group admins were all anonymous people and police have no grip on them as well. Any hope of legal action, justice or revenge was dead when Tobgay realized that Police could only do so much unless he could name the suspect with substantive evidence.
The officer in charge of the police said in confidence, "Tobgay, we don't have the technical knowhow to find out the suspect but there are companies overseas specialized in this field. I can share one address to help you. They are expensive but they deliver."
"I just want to find the damn person, for that, I will take a loan or leave my job and use up the provident fund and gratuity. I can only sleep peacefully after I hear that person justify his action."
"When you get the name, just call me. So sorry for now." Said the officer, handing him an email address.
In a few days, the company wrote back. They were definite about their ability to trace the person. They have asked for the profile link of the anonymous user and the hate post along with an advance payment to enable them to initiate the process. The agreement had to be signed wherein the client agree to non-disclosure of the company should the matter go to the court. The client had to make the full payment to receive the report within a week with significant evidence of who wrote the post.
Tobgay didn't think twice before wiring $ 5000 advance payment and anxiously waited for the report. No one in the family objected to his decision. They agreed to chip in to help him pay the company. They wanted revenge as much. They wanted the person to pay for every ounce of pain the family suffered. They wanted the person to swallow every word. They wanted the person to be tied to a pole in public and confess. But why did the person want to harm Tobgay so much? Tobgay couldn't wait to discover the person.
The couple hadn't gone to office since the day the post surfaced. They didn't want to face people. They could not trust anyone now. They have seen how people they knew were engaging with the post, sharing it as if to rub salt on their injuries. They somehow felt like everyone was gossiping about them. They logged out of their Facebook accounts to find a moment of peace.
By the third day, the newer controversies had taken over Bhutanese social media scene, and the hate post against Tobgay and family has faded in the background. It was just within two days that the post accumulated over 2200 likes, 340 comments and 210 shares. His wife recorded every bit of these data manually into a notebook. Some of these people who had liked the post and wrote the comments might not have meant it seriously but on this side, the family had taken it badly. Every single thumbs up on the post felt like a jab.
Tobgay received the much-awaited mail from the overseas company on the sixth day. He was shivering as he opened the mail, unable to control his excitement and rage. He had been waiting to outpour his anger on someone and the name of that someone was about to be revealed. As the mailed opened he saw a 20 MB PDF attachment file. The email read, “Thank you for entrusting us to help you. We are pleased to submit the full report containing 243 pages. Please download the file and keep it safe. This email will be self-destructed within 24 hours from the time you open it. All the best.”
Tobgay had only asked for the name of a person whose face he wanted to smash but he was presented with 243 pages. What could all these pages contain? He opened the attachment and saw that he was given the entire digital biography of the attacker. He sat on the dining table alone and started reading the thrilling report.
The table of contents was enough to tell him how savage the report was in capturing the entire digital footprint of the attacker. Before he could establish the identity of the attacker who had been hiding behind a pseudonym, Khandruma, he was presented with all the other four fake accounts the attacker has created from his laptop. The dates, times, locations and names, everything was recorded precisely.
It was a shock for him to discover that the sworn hater was the chief finance officer, Jamtsho, in his own office, with whom Tobgay has no problems at all, not even a little disliking. Could it be a mistake? It seemed unlikely until he saw the few deleted messages he had sent to his friends that established the intention. He had applied for the post of a director, where even Tobgay had applied. In those messages, he has bitterly expressed how Tobgay could easily land the job unless something unfortunate happened to him.
Tobgay had no idea that his colleague who hardly spoke anything was a candidate for the same job he applied to, and he could hardly establish any reasonable connection between the job and the attack. It took him a while to understand that the intent was to reduce his chances in the interview by establishing him as a dishonest person. Tobgay could hardly imagine how a desperate person could plot to destroy a person's reputation and his family for the sake of a job interview.
He picked his phone and dialled Jamtsho's number. But he stopped right away. He was on the third page and there was so much to read before he could call. He checked on his wife, who went to bed after taking a highly sedative medication the doctor prescribed for her after she reported to have been sleepless for three-night straight. Now she was sleeping like a baby. Their daughter was fast asleep by her mother.
He spent the next three hours reading the report and making notes from it. By the end of his reading, Tobgay found the amount of stalking Jamtsho has done on him and his family creepy; the search history on Jamtsho's laptop and in his phone revealed a scary state of his mind. He was obsessed with the job.
Flipping through his notes several times, Tobgay gave up on his idea to confront Jamtsho and do all those things that he and his family had wanted to do if they found the person. Tobgay carefully made a list of people and made a folder each in their names. In each folder, he put the screenshots of the messages and posts he took from the report. There was a total of 8 folders.
The first one was named as Pelmo, Jamtsho's wife. The folder contains all the messages he had exchanged with at least five women. These private and intimate messages of his affairs were cleverly deleted on Facebook messenger but the report has captured it under the chapter "Important messages Recovered". Tobgay looked at the dozens of pages of really personal and secret stuff in surprise, knowing how they were once deleted. All these messages would be sent to his wife, Pelmo.
The next folder was named 'Secretary' in which screenshots of emails and messages he had exchanged with suppliers are put. The mails and messages gave chilling details of how he was indulged in favouring certain business and what he took from them. He didn't even spare the fuel pump managers with whom he made deals to steal from the fuel books. The folder explained how he had built a three-star hotel in his wife's name in Paro.
The rest of the folders were named after individual persons against whom he had written defaming posts on Facebook from several different accounts. There are many posts that were nasty but these six persons were respected people in the society and he had tried to defame them in the worst possible language using all sort of fake and vulgar details like he did with his wife and daughter. Some of the posts were made several years ago and perhaps the victims may have forgotten the pain, but some are as recent as few months old and Tobgay could imagine the pain inside of those persons and their family members. He was going to write to them anonymously and handover the folders to help them to have their revenge. After reading these posts, Tobgay was convinced that there was something wrong with Jamtsho to have done the same with so many people.
Tobgay is no more interested in confronting Jamtsho. He was going to watch the 8 folders do their job. And if at the end of it, if he still can't forgive enough then he will make the entire 243 pages of Jamtsho's digital biography public on the Bhutanese Forum, the same platform where he has caused pain to so many people.
The report also contains details on the identity of the forum's admins and the nasty posts they have written. In fact, Tobgay knew that the day he made the report public, so many anonymous heroes on the Bhutanese forum, including some of the admins, would go into hiding.
-This short story is inspired by true events from different times and places.