By Anirudh Kala
As they pulled reluctantly away from a rather prolonged kiss, he asked her, “Have I told you how gorgeously beautiful you are?” “Not in the last ten minutes.”
“And that how much I love you?” “Not for over three minutes. But hey, tell away. I do not mind.” As you might guess, they had met recently. Just three weeks back. In a bank queue, on a cold morning filled with smog and autos.
He was a dour software guy at one of the dreary buildings in the rows of dreary buildings that filled half the town and she a sprightly executive in a glamorous ad agency from the other half. Opposites attracted. “Can we discuss a thing?” he asked tentatively. “A thing? It has not even been a month.” She seemed clearly wary of ‘things’. “No, not that. Do you know that Truth is dying?” he asked her gloomily as if Truth was a mutual relative they had lunch with recently. “Oh My God! How do you know?” she with her hand to her mouth playing along with what she presumed was a rare joke of his.
“Truth has not been spotted for a couple of years. Oxford dictionary thinks it is already dead because everybody is suddenly using the word Post Truth. They say it is the word of the year.”
“I am an executive in an ad agency, not a model.” She had reminded him whenever he had tried to make light of her debating capacity about issues graver than choice of Chinese take outs. “What is Truth anyway apart from one measly word in the Oxford dictionary?” she intended to take it to the hilt even if just to set right her bimbo reputation. “According to German philosopher Heidegger, truth is a state of total un concealment.” he boasted. “Sounds like sex,” she said interestedly. “Very few things do not sound like sex to you.” He looked at the fetching pout, then at the clothes strewn all over and regretted having started this Irish wake for Mr. Truth, who was not even properly dead yet. But he had his own scholarly reputation to defend.
“Let me explain.” Leila pulled up to him. He brushed away a wayward braid from her face. “Truth is a vestigial organ. Like appendix. Useless and cause of trouble. It is a barrier to further human evolution. It is inefficient. My grandmother used to say, a lie can travel half way around the world while truth is putting its shoe on. It has to be sacrificed for progress and development of mankind. Survival of the fittest.”
He thought he knew the cause, too. “We have been harsh with truth. We do not give it a chance. We should lower the bar. Mankind should promote something like Soft Truth.” “As in Soft Porn?” she wanted to know. “Or Soft Hindutva,” he offered. “Better to have soft truth than no truth. More efficient, too. Like cashless money. It is there and it is not. Take it whichever way it suits,” he developed his theme. “We can call it Truth-Lite,” she came out, “Like Marlboro lights. Or light beer. Which do the job rather well with less damage.”
This was fun, she thought. Who could have guessed? Philosophy as turn on. She was a girl who liked to experiment. And she warmed up. “Yes. What killed the truth was prudish insistence on unitary truth. In real life, there are shades of truth. Truth should come with a shade card.” “And a health warning.” He added.
“If truth had been withering away over eons for Darwinian reasons, why has dame Oxford got her knickers in twist now. What is new, oh wise one?” Leila asked looking up at him from his lap. “What is new are the smoke and mirrors, child. Truth shines back as lie which shines back as truth and it goes on so many million times that we have stopped caring. Out of sheer fatigue.”
She had regained some of her vivacity. “So if truth has indeed died, what did you actually mean Mister when you said you loved me to bits. I mean, is that true?” He looked indulgently down at her full lips, playful eyes and lush hair flowing down the shoulders. Wrapping her tenderly in a shawl, he led her to a chair.
Sitting opposite he said, “Now that our love is maturing, let me recite a poem for you.” “One of your Urdu guys?” “Yes. One of my Urdu guys, called Ibn-e-Insha.”
“Farz karo hum ehl-e-wafa hon, farz karo deewane hon Farz karo ye dono baatein jhooti hon afsane hon. Farz karo ye jee ki bipta, jee se jorh sunai ho Farz karo abhi aur ho itni, aadhi hum ne chhupai ho. Farz karo tumhe khush karne ke dhoonde hum ne bahane hon Farz karo ye nain tumhare sach much ke mai-khane hon. Farz karo ye rog ho jhoota, jhooti preet hamari ho Farz karo is preet ke rog main saans bhi hum par bhari ho. Farz karo ye jog bijog ka dhong hum ne rachaya ho Farz karo bas yehi haqeeqat, baaki sab kuch maya ho.”
“You and your wily Urdy guys!” she got up to pick up a pillow and he ducked.
Anirudh Kala is a psychiatrist and a weekend scribbler. An anthology of short stories, Partitioning Of Madness & Other Stories, is being published by Speaking Tiger. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine on ‘Urdu in Contemporary India: Predicaments and Promises’, edited by Fahad Hashmi, Independent Scholar, Delhi, India.