It’s an established fact that I’m a terrible liar. Not the mean “I have to be honest you looked awful on TV” sort of not being able to lie, but a different sort. (In those cases, I acquit myself not badly at all, because I don’t like hurting those I hold nothing against. ‘You looked very in character! Hey look at the time!’)
I mean the sort of fictitious answer one must think on one’s feet to give. For one thing I don’t enjoy being on my feet for long, I tire easily and my brain works much better lying down. You should hear some of the fantastic dreams my sleeping brain produces…I would tell you if I ever remembered one after I woke up. (Wow, that was a strange dream! Oooer…I wonder why it was strange?)
Today, one of my colleagues has been admitted into hospital with a very bad case of ‘the curse’ (this is a family blog, people! My nephew reads it!). Along came a male colleague and asked me where she was and I gave it some thought. She’s been admitted into hospital with a gynaecological problem, I declared. Would it have killed me to say something else? Probably.
I remember when I was 15 or 16 I had gone to my cousin’s place in Durgapur with my Dad about 3 hours away from Calcutta by train. My father had to come back in a few days but my holidays stretched before me and neither my cousin nor I saw any reason why I should go home that soon. “Don’t worry,” she told Baba, “I’ll find someone going to Calcutta and send her back with that person in a week or two.”
Of course, the moment he left I told my cousin in no uncertain terms that I’d go home alone, and didn’t need a babysitter. She wasn’t opposed to the idea but we both decided that nobody should know because Baba had made us promise I wouldn’t go home alone. ‘Tell them you went home with a Mr. Chatterjee”, she instructed me. I started to worry…what if they wanted details? What he’s like..what he said to me on the train? “Tell them, he was a very quiet gentleman (chaapa goccher bhdorolok) and didn’t say anything to you at all”.
The sheer simplicity of the lie made it a brilliant one. In anybody else’s mouth it would’ve slid out effortlessly and no one would’ve been the wiser. A few hours after I’d got home safely and just starting to hope no questions would be asked, my mother idly asked me what my escort on the train was like. Again, I gave it some thought. It has to come out just right, I thought, or people would suspect. My cousin and I would be in trouble. “He’s an…er…chaapa goccher bhodrolok?” I volunteered. My mother fixed me with a look and burst into gales of laughter.
There are plenty of other instances where I’ve been caught out instantly and in a most humiliating manner. Sometimes I’ve told the truth but was so worried that people will think I’m lying that I came over all shifty eyed and guilty. “Er…I’m 29.” “Um…(looking down at my shoes)…really…I am…”
It’s really a pain in the butt. Speaking of which, I look forward to telling my colleague I’ve shared her dysmenorrheal troubles with everyone on this floor when she finally recovers from it and gets here.
“I…erm…told them you had a c-c-cold…” “You told them didn’t you? “ “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.”