I am an honest person. As honest as one can hope to meet. I do not lie. Unless, I absolutely have to. But, there was a time, when, I was not whom you know now. I was a chronic liar. And it took a lot of effort from my Papa to instill in me the habit of telling truth, no matter what.
I liked studies. The problem was that I liked few other things more. Playing and Sleeping were the best pastimes. As the exams would come nearer, Papa would emphasize the importance of practicing as much maths as possible and writing as many pages as possible to make sure that I retain what I have learnt. Whenever Papa would ask, if I have done sufficient practice, I would always say Yes, but in truth, I was very happy with doing the first 3-4 problems of the chapters with the tough nuts of the chapter left completely ignored. Most of the times, I used to get away quite easily (at least till the results came out). But there were occasions(usually on Sundays), when Papa will sit with me and ask me to bring the Maths book(Maths and science were his favorites). And, invariably, he will give me the problem, which I have not practiced. I used to pray inside to give me an easy problem, but it was never answered. He will say,'practice kiya hai na acchhe se, kaun sa dun karne ke liye..hmm...ye wala karega?...achha..ye lo..is chapter ka 26 no karo..aur next chapter ka 28 no...jab ho jayega to batana.'And he would busy himself in reading the newspaper. On seeing the complex equations and the lengthy languages of the problems, I would curse myself, why I did not practice that specific sum. But on the face, I would appear completely normal and take the copy and put in my lap(so that he could not see what I am writing) and start writing confidently. I would read the problem twice, thrice hoping that it would start making sense to me. But, when you do not know something, you do not know something. I would make serious gestures on face, signaling that I am thinking hard, calling on universal powers of wisdom for just a few minutes. But, they never came. 15-20 mins would pass and I would scribble something on the copy in an attempt to write something, anything worthwhile, that would make sense to Papa. Papa would turn the pages of newspaper, look at me, in anticipation and every time, I would give him the signal that I need a few minutes more, buying extra time, trying to delay the inevitable. Eventually, Papa's patience would run out and he will snatch the copy and will try to decipher the mess which would be present there. I would be lucky, if escaped with just a display of anger. May be a couple of slaps. But, he would not forget to tell me,'pehle kyun nahi bataya, ki nahi kiya tha. Jhooth kyun bola. Sach bole hote..to..main tumko padha deta..aur time bhi waste nahi hota!' This was not a one-off story. This would be repeated many times over.
At the end of the day, I was somehow, able to complete the syllabus. But the actual exams were a completely different story. Literature subjects were no problem, as you can write anything and you can almost get away with it(if you know what I mean). Maths used to be my nemesis. It was not that I hated Maths or I was weak in Maths. Quite the contrary. But I lacked concentration due to which 80-90 marks scoring paper turned out to be 60-70 in reality. After the exam, when Papa used to ask,'kaisa gaya beta?', I would say,'Achha'. This would translate in 90% marks in Papa's language. But when the actual results came, I was too scared to tell Papa the actual marks. I would tell him,'abhi paper nahi dikhaya Papa, teacher ne!' I would buy a few days, hoping I get a good mark in some other subjects so that I would tell him the marks together so as to lessen the impact of the awful marks in Maths. These opportunities sometimes came, but quite few. Otherwise, every passing day was a battle with myself. Whether to tell him the marks today? Is it possible to delay it for one more day? How is his mood today? These were the questions I would ask myself. It was tough. And on the day, when I would decide that there is no more running now, I knew something bad was going to happen to me. As soon as I told him the marks(which were way below his expectations), he would ask,'ye number pehle bataya gaya tha na? Pehle jhooth bol raha tha na?' But he knew the answer before my reply. I would get a sound thrashing and these words were often repeated,'main tujhe isliye nahi pit raha hun, ki tujhe number achhe nahi aaye, par isiliye..ki tune jhooth bola. Sach bola hota..to nahi pitai khata. Arre, number kam aana koi badi baat nahi hai. kisi ke bhi aa sakte hai. Par jhooth kyun.' It was beyond my understanding that if you do something 'bad', you would tell truth by admitting it. What will be achieved in telling truth? After getting quite a thrashing, Papa will ask mom to bring the boro plus and he will use it on my body wherever necessary and repeat the same words in kind fashion, trying to make me understand, why telling truth is not just an important thing, but THE thing to do. par main sirf ek pitai se kahan sudharne wala tha?
I would sometimes not show Papa the questions papers by making some excuse and would copy his signature on the report card sometimes.There was a period of two years (Class 6 and 7), where getting beaten for the same reason was becoming a norm for me. I was just hopeless. I was making the same mistakes and then telling lies upon lies to cover them. Philosophically, I could not lift myself up from this ditch, unless I had hit the rock bottom. And this bottom came. Hard. I once got 45 in Maths. Just Passed. As usual, I waited till the last possible day to disclose this. But, what I remember most from that day is that my younger brother had got 90 in Maths and he too was holding that information and waiting for the last possible day just because, I was doing the same. He was looking up to me and was getting absolutely misguided. It was almost like a jolt to me. I felt as if I have just awakened from a deep slumber.
I have come a long way, since that day. I know what it means to be truthful, to yourself and to your loved ones. I do not think that I have told a serious lie ever since or may be I have become more intelligent in handling situations. But, one thing, which I have made sure every time is that I never tell lies for personal and selfish gains or to hurt someone or to belittle anyone. On the same hand, I can not say that I have been truthful every time with everyone, since . But, I can be sure, that I have been honest and truthful, when it matters, to the best of my knowledge.