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Being old doesn’t necessarily make one wise. This spark of wisdom hit me vividly as I was addressing a very young class in one school. Normally I train only students of Engineering and Management colleges but this Principal just wouldn’t accept a ‘No’.
During the course of our interaction, a young student stood up and said that we must never lie. It is a sin. I liked the firmness in his voice. There was no doubt in his mind. But age had taught me something else. I now knew that life is not all black and white. There are shades of grey in everything. I took time to respond.
My mind raced back to the time I was in Manipal. We had not started our Pizzeria yet. I was exploring the city for a good location. I was hungry, tired, wet and thirsty not necessarily in the same order and so went to Blue water for a couple of beers and some hot food.
The place was bustling. It was a typical busy weekend. I had to be accommodated in an adjoining room which I accepted gratefully since it was comparatively quiet.
When I was leaving the joint, it was around one in the morning. Two young ladies lurched out unsteadily. That wasn’t unusual but there were no autos around. One was supporting the other who looked like she would trip any moment. I offered to drop them wherever they lived. The girl gratefully accepted. We helped the other one inside and I dropped them to their apartment.
Later we started Pizza Corner and my visits to bars became infrequent. Since Manipal is a small place, now I was well-known among the students. One night I had a guest from Hyderabad. who wanted to explore the bars. We tried DeeTee but it was overflowing. I hurriedly opted for Blue water.
Funnily, the same incident repeated. But this time the other girl recognised me. The next day both of them came to thank me and we became friends.
One night much much later, I was having a beer alone in Guzzlers Inn. A middle-aged man smiled at me as he entered. I too recognised him. He had asked me for directions in the morning. I stood up and shook hands with him. He told me that he had come here to visit his daughter and then laughing said I must be knowing her since she is a big fan of Pizza Corner. Call it my vanity or my curiosity, but I was eager to meet her.
The gentleman assured me that she was shopping with her mother in mischief and would be joining him for dinner.
We heard them before we saw. The girl was giggling happily and chatting animatedly with her mom. Because of that she didn’t see us till they were right at the table.
Then the girl froze. Her eyes betrayed naked fear. I too stared at her dumbly. She was the same girl I had rescued twice.
Immediately I picked up my mug and pretended to sip as I gathered my wits. I was grateful to the beer. Then with a flourish I stood up and folded my hands at the lady and then smiled at the girl, “Hey, I am frankly mystified. Your dad says that you are a big fan of Pizza Corner. How come we never met?” Then I offered my hand and said , “I am Sudhir.”
If it was in her hands, the girl would have awarded me an Oscar. Her father beamed proudly at his daughter. The girl too acted her part of a shy girl well. I had no business being there.
I politely declined their invitation for dinner and left the happy family alone.
As I was returning to my Pizza Corner, I was feeling light as a feather. This one episode of lying had given me more happiness than all the truths that I had ever uttered …………………. Contd.