I told Stuart I didn’t want to give up Germany yet and wanted to give myself another couple of years to achieve something. Stuart said it was fine.
Summer was passing. I was working late in the office one day, trying to boost my value at work. The floor was empty, and I felt the setting sun on my back through the window. A chat lamp flickered in the corner of my laptop screen. I opened it to see it was Mr. Hirao in Los Angeles. He asked me if we could talk on the phone. I was delighted to hear from my once-mentor, whom I hadn’t spoken with since I arrived in Germany. When he called and asked me how things were, I rattled on excitedly about how I was trying to improve things at work and how I was coping with my private life. Mr. Hirao listened patiently, and when I was done, he started talking.
“I spoke with Mr. N when he was here for the conference, and I asked how you were doing. And he told me that he didn’t want to entrust work to you because he was afraid you might spill confidential matters to someone close to you. Someone VERY close to you.”
I went mute.
Mr. Hirao continued, “perhaps you should be very careful with your personal relationships. Think about how it might affect your work.”
Why would it affect work? It is Mr. N who was making it a big deal. And HE tried to mix work and private life with me. I was doing nothing wrong. Why was I being punished and not other men who dated colleagues with impunity?
None of that came out of my mouth. My throat was blocked by an unknown force. I tried all my might to speak until I managed to squeeze out a word, “hai…” like a gasp. The last ray of the sun withdrew. The darkness fell on my back.