The year was 1998 and I was studying in my XI class in Mangalore. Although I was a shy and reserved teenager, I had two best friends and together we had a whale of a time. We came from middle class families and whatever little pocket money we received each month was spent within few days. For the rest of the month we relied upon the small savings that we had amassed from the money that we received from relatives when they visited during festivals. Looking back at those days, they were so much fun and we had a blast roaming the small lane near Venkataramana temple. Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t overly religious. The reason why this lane was our favorite haunt was because it had some of the best chat stalls and Gobi Manchuri stands. My two friends Arpita and Suma were foodies like me and we were always on the lookout for new eateries that served delicious and affordable food.
Apart from eating, we also loved watching movies but our meager allowance did not permit us to watch a movie in theater. We had to be content in watching movies by renting VCDs and watching it in Suma’s house where she had a CD player. During the summer that year a blockbuster English movie came to our city and all the girls were raving about this cute and attractive actor of the movie, Leonardo DiCaprio. The romantic movie, Titanic, had taken the country by storm and anyone who watched the movie couldn’t stop talking about it.
Arpita, Suma and I decided that we wanted to watch the movie in a cinema hall but one look inside our purse and we realized that we did not have enough money. We desperately wanted to watch the film, especially after some girls whispered about a scene where the actress was painted naked by Leo. ;)
I knew asking my mother for money wouldn’t do any good. After my father expired my mother was the sole provider in our family and she had to feed, clothe and educate her three children. No matter how much she planned our expenses, she was always short of money before the end of each month. My friends were also of the opinion that asking money from parents wouldn’t be of much use as they obviously did not encourage us watching movies. And going to a movie hall to watch a romantic English movie was nothing but a sin.
We plotted an idea of inventing a fake cultural fest in our college. We went to our respective houses and described in great detail to our parents about the fest and how participating in such events would matter during our selection in prestigious degree colleges. My mother agreed that taking part in such cultural events would make me more confident and bold. Although she was always complaining about not having enough money, she readily gave me the 100 Rs that I had asked for as participation fees.
The next day my friends and I had a blast watching the movie. We couldn’t stop crying when Leo sacrificed his life for Kate and we confessed we were in love with him. I quickly forgot about the lie that I had told my mom but a week later my mother asked me about it. My guilty conscience started gnawing at me. I knew my mother faced a lot of hardships to raise me and my brothers after my father’s death. She had started working in a bank and she was abruptly pushed into an alien world. She had gone from being a mere housewife to the sole breadwinner of our family and the transition had been scary and intimidating for her. I remembered all the sacrifices that she had quietly done for us.
What I had done was wrong and my mother deserved to know the truth. It was extremely painful for me because I knew my mother would be hurt and angry. But I simply couldn’t live with the glib lie that I had told.
So with trembling legs and quivering voice I said my mother about how I had tricked her. How my friends and I had gone to the movie with the money that she had given. The words kept pouring until my soul was purged of all the guilt and shame.
My mother was listening to me quietly and at the end of my confession she just sat there with tears in her eyes. Her silence was more agonizing than any other form of punishment. I wished that she would hit or scream at me, but that quiet anger of my mother was ripping me apart. I begged for her forgiveness and promised to never lie to her. After what seemed like an eon, she hugged me and said that she appreciated that I had gathered the courage to speak the truth. Perhaps she knew that I had already learnt my lesson.
That day I realized that it took more grit and determination to confess and speak the truth than to lie or deceit someone.