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     Volume 5 Issue 111 | November 24, 2006 |

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Common Cold

The Burden of Truth…!

Neeraj Sinha

I am not sure what triggered it…! Whether it was the sumptuous main course that I did full justice to last evening, taking more than a couple of helpings, or the designer savouries that rebelled against the desi alimentary canal, I have no clue. All I know is one moment I was a regular city bred, spoilt middle-aged, fibbing his way through life and the next, I found myself blubbering out the first thing that came to mind. Truth…, would you believe it…? Nothing but the unblemished, un-cut, raw truth!

For those of you, who have not yet figured out the full import of the tragedy that I now found myself in, let me explain by asking you a question. This is one long, breathless query and so brace yourself… what would you do if your boss called you one winter morning and asked you to substitute for him on an official trip to some back of the beyond, joyless place? Mind you, this would naturally be during one of the upcoming weekends when you would have made your own quiet plans to go across to the sea beach to 'see' sea-shells and other interesting creatures that usually throng the beaches at that time of the year…!

Well, if I were you, I would tell myself enough was enough and then and there, make a firm resolve to stand up to the boss, the next time he came in the way of happiness and me. But having made the resolve, I would then go home, quietly pack my bags for the said destination and comply with the Boss's instructions in letter and spirit.

Except that this time when the boss, as obnoxious a creature as any that ever climbed the corporate ladder explained how he, had chosen me ahead of himself, to attend the quarterly conference at a venue as visitor-friendly as the one described in the aforementioned paragraphs, I had two simultaneous thoughts. I wished the ceiling above him would fall on his head and that his daughter would run away with his chauffer. It was while I was contemplating as to which of the twin wishes would give me greater personal satisfaction, that I saw the small, big man fix me with his gaze and ask in not too friendly a manner as to whether I meant what I had just said.

You can imagine my horror when I realised that my thought processes were no longer my private, personal domain. It became apparent that I had completely lost control over my tongue, which, oblivious to the havoc it was leaving in its wake, was blubbering out whatever was going on inside me. Hardly had I framed a reaction in my mind than my tongue would reveal all the gory details to those who cared to listen. In other words, I had become like an open book for all to read…!

That eventful day not only did my boss learn of my desire to see the ceiling fall on his head but also of how he would make a wonderful sight as he hopped along on crutches over three flights of stairs to our elevator-less office. That month, I attended the quarterly conference at four different venues, each of which was thoughtfully planned on consecutive weekends.

If you thought life had dealt me a bad hand, wait till you hear of this. That day one after another, all my female colleagues at the office learnt that I was in love with each of them. And the missus who was tolerating me thus far on the premise that I was as 'faithful' to her as a mouse is to cheese, found out in a matter of a few appropriately worded questions that there were a minimum of half a dozen females vying for space in my mind. So much, for years of carefully crafted image of being a one-woman man!

Friends, if it had not been for that single well aimed, high impact knock with the extra-large sauce-pan that my wife happened to be carrying in her hand, at the very moment that my secret desires got revealed, I would still be carrying the burden of truth with me. I have never been much of a student of Biology and would have had to resort to a Google search if you asked me about the total number of bones there are in the human body. But this I know from experience that a carefully aimed, high intensity knock is potent enough to cure many a complicated ailment. In the immediate aftermath of the 'head-shot', I was interviewed again by the Missus about my feelings for the other women of the world. This time I got all the answers right.

Trust me, I am a much relieved person. I can walk into my boss's room with tremendous confidence now, knowing fully well that leave alone his ceiling, even if I were to wish the rubble of the entire building to fall on his head, he would be none the wiser as long as I kept the smile even when faced with the prospect of six monthly conferences to attend to in the midst of Christmas & New Year Holidays.

I am slowly getting back to interacting with my female colleagues in the office without causing any undue embarrassment in this ripe old age. I can go to TV talk shows on Traffic Management now and not let the suave moderator know that his homilies on traffic rules notwithstanding, he is often seen jumping red-lights on busy days. And last but not the least, I can keep my counsel when a persistent reporter asks me about the state of the…err, world!

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