I can never get lucky on a Wednesday night. First I write a selection of 182 words on a book called Me Inc, it falls short by 120 words. And just when I think I have wound up for the day, comes the spanner. The strip ad at the end of the three-page story I am handling has to be removed and an element added to fill up the space. I call the weary reporter in Bangalore, who is already deep asleep into the night, and ask him for more information. How he must hate me at this point of time as much as I hate the ad-men in my department.

The selection I have taken care of, thanks to some of the tricks in the trade I have picked up. But the poor design guy is slogging his ass off. That gives me the time to air my frustrations. “Wake up the reporter,” one editor says. “I have,” I reply and wait for design to roll off. That will involve some more time as it means dealing with a few who can’t ascertain the difference between begetable and vegetable. Minute corrections and more time to waste.

Meanwhile, newsman Vineet is looking equally hassled. I notice his hair has grown. Probably trying a new look but I tend to think it is to make it easy to pull them on Wednesday nights when he asks a reporter for a 150-word piece but is generously donated a 350-word story. So he cuts and cuts with vengeance knowing full well, he will be met with a, “Oh, You changed the meaning,” the next day when the issue is out. Fine cut, I call it.

The trainee Jayant looks bewildered by the goings on. He doesn’t know whether to leave now or come in early tomorrow. Caught between the big bosses, he obliges and stays on to carry out corrections. Others have managed to slither away early after prioritising their works. Another real boss is finding faults with a story at the nth time and there is talk of replacing the story! I don’t want to be there when it happens.

Lying sometimes at the workplace is a given. Some do it with impunity. Some artfully. I have run short of lies, frankly. I remember this incident when I was at the Press Trust of India. My editor asked me to go to Pragati Maidan on a Sunday afternoon, my off day. Come Sunday, I have a hearty lunch, it pours cats and dogs, I take a nap and wake up late as hell for the assignment (which meant going round exhibition stalls and talking to people).

So Monday morning at the meeting I make up this story about how my neighbour’s big dog bit my sister, and how I had to run around taking her to the doctor for her anti-rabies shot. Our roomie and colleague then and also my best friend Deepika, who was away from home that Sunday, came straight to office from her LG’s place and was shocked to hear the dog bite story. "Oh, that stupid idiotic dog," I heard her telling colleagues. Truth was, there existed a dog, the neigbour’s dog but a harmless one at that. Later, she went home straight before I finished work and bought a big box of chocolates on the way, when healthy, cheerful sister opened the door.

“Oh you poor thing, where did he bite you?” she asked my sister. “What bite?” my sister enquired. “The dog bite, my dear”, she insisted. “Oh you got bitten by a dog? When and how?" counter questioned my sister. It took a while before they realised what a fraud I was. In retrospect, ‘the dog bite’ story brings us laughter to this day. My favourite lie, so far!


Anonymous said...

LOL. You dawg! :) - Kunal

Shanti Thokchom said...

very good story! pukka con artist!!!!!!!!

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