I’m very impressed with people who always seem to be on a mission. These days I too have one…I just have to find out how Chaddhaji, the property agent, can sometimes give so astoundingly irrelevant answers to perfectly normal questions and still not get killed by his audience.
Yesterday I saw a neighbour ask him, “Should I insist on a company lease from the tenant you brought in on Sunday?” Chaddhaji uttered a strange ‘grhhh’ sound from his mouth and said “I got married on a Sunday 27 years back.” Huh? “Is it your anniversary today?” enquired the bewildered man. “No. why do u ask?” said Chaddhaji... and the man looked ready to physically strike him before he changed his mind and beat a hasty retreat, shaking his head.
“Is there some mental problem with him?” I asked Pappu Singh one day while pointing towards Chaddhaji who was haggling with a beggar asking for five bucks back out of the Rs 10 note he had donated. “No no madam…you must have seen him do this on a Friday,” clarified Pappu Singh.
Then I got to know a bizarre secret. Apparently, many years back Chaddhaji, whose profession as a property dealer often required him to manipulate facts (read tell a lie) to facilitate deals, got so stressed that he took a vow to ‘speak nothing but the truth one day in a week’.
This was his way of detoxifying his soul. But soon it started getting him into trouble… so he decided to just avoid answering a tricky question. Not being very good at it, his attempts at diverting the conversation or changing the topic were so ill-formed that he came across as a loony.
Aah... that makes sense. It being a Friday i.e. his ‘truth day’, he did not want to tell my neighbour that he should indeed insist on a company lease as that would have hurt the deal. But he didn’t want to lie either. That explains the anniversary crap. “Although he has acquired the reputation of an eccentric because of this, he doesn’t mind it because he is so calm on Fridays,” added Pappu Singh.
Lying about the most insignificant things has become such an intrinsic part of our daily lives that they don’t even seem like lies anymore. Ask someone how he/she is doing and you’ll always get a “I’m fine”, even though the person may be on his way to committing suicide. ‘Stuck in traffic’, ‘am in a meeting’, ‘feeling unwell’… all this when we may not mean any of it. We Indians love taking refuge in a favourite adage, “If telling a lie doesn’t harm anyone, it’s not a lie.”
Slowly these lies, which may seem harmless and sometimes necessary, start stressing us out. Most of the times we don’t even remember what excuse we had cooked up, and put ourselves in a further stressful situation. Chaddhaji’s trick suddenly doesn’t seem that silly anymore. Decide that for one day in a week (always, if you can manage), you will not tell any lie, not even the smallest. Somehow I know you’ll soon start looking forward to your ‘calmness day’.
(Sonal Kalra just realised that she has missed the deadline for submitting this column. She has to quickly come up with a reason. Fever? Oh no, that was used last week. Send your calmness tricks to her at