Tuesday, April 28, 2020

X is for "X my heart and hope to die!" #AtoZChallenge

Sunder Nursery, New Delhi May 2019

[Diary entry on the night before the picnic]

Grade 3. 8 years old. Holy Angels' Convent School. Dehradun. 

Dear Diary,

I'm super excited about tomorrow. I can't sleep. 

I can't believe Sister Lucy gave our class permission to go so far for our picnic. I've never sat in a big bus to go on a school picnic before. Oh! I can't wait for morning to come and Mrs. Malhotra said that the driver will go past our house to pick me up!

Mummy and Daddy and Seema and Neeraj will see me get on the bus. I hope I will get a window seat. 

Good night. 

Even though I won't be able to sleep, I will shut my eyes really tight.


[Diary entry on the night after the picnic]

Grade 3. Still 8 years old but now doubtful about future. Same School. Same City.

Dear Diary,

I'm not sure how long I will live for I have crossed my heart and told a lie.

Sister Thomasina was standing by the slides in Shahanshahi Ashram to make sure we all took turns to come down one at a time.

Sorry, Diary. My handwriting is not so good today because I can only see from one eye. The other one has a big fat bandage on it.

So, there I was--at the top of the slide, waiting for my turn and I think Manjari was behind me or maybe it was Deepali. I don't remember now. But, I know who was in front of me. It was that annoying Vishal--he's always teasing me. And just because he can run faster than me, he got there before I could and then he took his own sweet time to slide down. I knew he was doing the slow slide jaanboojh kar (on purpose) because I saw him stick his feet to the sidebars -- he didn't slide-- he went khissak-khissak-khissak ke (painfully slowly).

But you know what? While I was waiting, I looked around. It is such a beautiful garden--this Shahanshahi Bagh. It's not like Papaji's, though.

Papaji's garden begs you to come in and explore because it is always exploding with so many things that grow everywhere. Shahanshahi Bagh was neat--like Mummy's handwriting. There were so many trees and lots of flowers but they all looked like children in assembly--neatly lined up. While waiting for that silly Vishal to reach the bottom, I spotted an entire garden of roses. It was right behind the swings: not far from the slide.

I knew what I wanted to do once I was done with this stupid sluggish slide.

"Out of bounds children. The rose garden is OUT OF BOUNDS." Sister Thomasina was announcing when I did get down in the end.

Of course, I heard her!

But those roses. Just one touch---a quick sniff. No one will know. No one will notice, I thought. As long as that pesky Vishal doesn't come looking for me!

He didn't. I was alone. Lunch was over. We were all free to do as we pleased before boarding the bus to go back home.

I got my chance.

I ran into the rose bushes. Smelled a few blooms. That roses came in so many colours was a shock to me--a happy, exhilarating shock of new discovery: yellow, orange, crimson, coral, spotted ones with red and pink and white dots and even white! Have you ever seen white roses?

Do you remember when I told you about Alice in Wonderland? I was Alice today. I wish I could bring a few petals to keep inside your pages. But I had no time .

"The bus is here. Line up class 3." Mrs. M's voice reached me.

I panicked. I had to reach the line. You know I am the shortest in class so the line starts with me. I ran. I ran blindly and very, very fast. I didn't want to get caught red handed among the roses. 

I made it just in time. Phew!

"Arti, what's this? You're bleeding child...." Said Mrs M and tilted by head back with her hands.

A wet handkerchief was put on my left eye. I didn't realise what all the fuss was about. I felt a little twinge on my eyelid but nothing else. Mrs. M sat next to me on the bus. I got the window seat.

"What happened Arti? How did you get that cut? I hope it's not too deep." Mrs. M spoke in her soft voice and turned the hanky to check if I had stopped bleeding.

"Vishal pushed me."

"We will look into it tomorrow in class. I will have to inform Sister Lucy. Keep still and don't talk."

Mrs. M got off the bus to fill Mummy in about my accident.

Daddy cleaned up the blood and washed my cut with Dettol. It stung. I didn't cry. I kept quiet. 

"Why/when/where did he push you?" Mummy asked after it was decided that the cut wasn't too deep so I didn't need any stitches.

"Right before we were getting on the bus--he was racing me." I told her.

"Are you telling me the truth? How come you have no scratches on your hands or knees? "

"Cross my heart and hope to die." I looked her in the eyes and lied. My left hand was behind my back:my  fingers were crossed, of course.

I'm not sure I will be alive tomorrow morning dear Diary. If I'm not, at least they will know why I died. I think a thorn must've cut through my eyelid as I was rushing past the rose bushes but I didn't notice anything at the time.

I'm feeling sorry for Vishal. I know he is the naughtiest boy in class but he didn't do anything.

How can I tell them I disobeyed Sister Thomasina? They think I'm the best student in class. I always come first. And Mrs. M made me the class monitor only last week!

Good night Diary.

I lived with my guilt of not coming clean about this lie for a very long time. The next day, Vishal was asked and he shrugged his shoulders to suggest he may have pushed me. He was a very boisterous child in class and often got into trouble. I could never look him in the eye after the school picnic incident. Mercifully, it was our last term at Holy Angels for the school closed down as the owners of the bungalow it was housed in had decided to sell their property.

I transferred to St. Joseph's Academy in grade 4.

I never told Mummy about my lie. I lost touch will almost all of my grade 3 class mates as my new school was far away from where I used to live. 

By the time I gathered the courage to come clean, life's zigzags were challenging enough to manoeuvre through so the opportunity never arose.

Mummy died when I was 19. 

The only person who I've shared this with till now is my husband. 

I wasn't too sure about writing about it today but in doing so I feel I am finally able to apologise to Vishal, where ever he may be today, and say--I'm sorry.

Note: I didn't start writing a diary till much later, but as I hadn't had this conversation with anyone other than myself that night, I thought I'd use a diary entry to bare my heart.
Thank you for visiting my blog.
I've really enjoyed the sharing.
If, after reading this post, you are reminded of a lie you told as a child, or a truth you chose not to disclose and you'd like to share the story with me, you know I'd love to hear.

Stay safe and healthy and just in case you are intrigued by the significance of  the saying we used often as children as well as other attributes of the letter X, you can click on this link:


  1. Hari Om
    Blogging lends itself to catharsis... &*> YAM xx

    1. It certainly does Yamini. Thank you. Hugs. xx

  2. Sometimes we have no choice but to lie, and a kid's lie is usually not a big one. As Vishal wasn't bothered (expelled from school), it's ok! Fun quote by the way, "Cross my heart and hope to die."!
    X is for…

  3. It's not comfortable, realizing how badly you can let yourself down, is it? Even as a kid...
    On the bright side, childhood is for learning what to do and not do - and I would guess that was one heck of a lesson.
    I won't detail my sins on your blog but yes, it took a couple of doozies before I decided I hated that sick feeling more than getting into trouble.

    1. Yes, that sick feeling is certainly the worst.
      It was one heck of a lesson indeed.
      I did indulge in telling porkies a couple more times during my school days but none that got anyone else into any trouble. Those were more on the lines of postponing the consequences of my actions:)
      Cheers Jz.

  4. I believe it was not a big deal at all, but I guess it was too much for a poor 8 years old Arti that you kept in your heart for long enough. We all have had our shares of white lies in childhood but unfortunately I can’t tell you because I have ‘crossed my heart and hope to die ‘ 😄. On a lighter note, I don’t want this series to end.

    1. Cheers Pinkz. That lie haunted me for a very long time. Out of all my classmates in class 3, it's Vishal face and smile that is most clearly etched in my memory. Our conscience is a wonderful thing.

  5. It's not easy at times, is it? I hope Vishal reads this and knows you've apologized. :)
    Not sharing any but I did lie about a thing or two. Mostly it was about my empty lunch box which someone else would eat and I'd take it back home happily. (Picky eater troubles :( )

    1. Thank you Srivalli. I hope so too.
      My husband has many such 'tiffin' related stories. As he was always busy playing during recess, he would often distribute his food just before getting back home so his mother wouldn't tell him off. I find that utterly adorable.

  6. During childhood many of us have done similar things without realising the seriousness of it then. Happens. By writing about it openly here, you have sort of brought that issue to a closure. Blogging, they say, has therapeutic effects.

    1. I think so too Pradeep. Blogging, in some ways, is like an open diary entry--open for all to read.

  7. How sweet! I've spoken a couple of lies but all harmless. Like once I pretended to faint in school so that I could get home early and miss a test.
    But both my sister and I used to write diaries. And we used to love reading each other's diaries secretly.

    1. I cannot imagine you ever wanting to miss a test Sonia. I picture you as a prefect student (a keen test taker)after reading your awesome blog entries.

    2. Haha. Yes I think I know I give that kind of an impression. All false, believe me!

  8. I am sure this has been therapeutic for you..We all tell little lies as children..even as adults..I wrote a diary too..the whole idea was so enticing. I felt so important writing one !

    1. Now that you mention it Arti, I have a few diary related stories that will have to wait for another A to Z perhaps:)
      My diary became my confidant when I didn't have anyone I could confide in.

  9. Better to confess late than never. Although nothing comes to mind, I'm sure I told the odd fib or two. Actually, you've started me thinking!

    X is for ...

    1. Will wait for any outcomes after the thinking is done Keith:) Cheers.

  10. Awww Arti that was so cute i would say. I am sure most of us have had at least one such 'X'episodes. And white lies as a kid yes i have too,"Mother's Blood Promise!" would follow soon after it.
    I hated any medicines, was ok with injections but not medicines. And our family Dr was too generous with dosages. So when i got chicken pox with high fever, i lied about eating all the medicine. I would stand with my back towards the balcony and kept throwing it out. Amma was worried why the fever wasn't coming down. i wasn't guilty at all,then. i could do anything to avoid medicines.
    Over the years the medicine drama faded off and this episode of throwing medicine out of the balcony got mentioned jokingly by my Mom to someone. I was embarrassed. All the while i thought nobody knew my little secret! But Mothers....they know everything isn't it?
    I have a feeling that Vishal shall read this somehow and get in touch with you :-)

    1. Another cute episode of your beloved balcony Vidya. Thank you for sharing it with me. xx

  11. Oh Arti, I'm glad you were able to pluck the thorn of that lie out, after holding it in your heart so long. It's ironic that I'm sure forgiveness would have been given by everyone, but it is ourselves that we have the hardest time with. I'm reminded of the Hawaiian Ho’oponopono practice which I've found to be helpful in working with forgiveness - a mantra where one repeats the words "I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you."

    I believe we contain within us all the multitude which makes wholeness - the good, the bad, the light, the dark, all of it which needs to be held in love.

    1. Thank you Deborah-- I love the way you've used 'pluck the thorn.' That image itself is so forgiving and symbolises the concept of letting go. Thank you for this.

      The Hawaiian practice was part of a mediation session I did in March and I loved it but didn't know what it's called. Now I do:) Cheers.

  12. I love the way you described the difference between Papaji's gardens and the Shahanshahi Bagh. All of us have told our share of lies. And it seemed such a cute way to present the story - in the form of a diary. Writing is very cathartic indeed.

  13. You were a kid, it happens! Glad you could share it on the blog, it is definitely cathartic.

  14. I was very naughty as a kid... And me and two of my cousins got together at my grandparents place for our summer vacation. Some uncle of ours had got three big bars of dairy milk for each one of us... Me and one of my cousins had quickly finished our bars and started eyeing the third cousins chocolate bar... She wanted to save her bar for later and kept it in fridge... We had almost nothing left of our chocolate bars. But we both got together and hatched a plan... We kept our bars along with hers and later in the day when the chocolates came out again we lied blatantly... It was my plan... We lied saying the big bar belonged to the other cousin (one who was part of my plan) and not it's actual owner. Since she had no one to support and we two were supporting each other in the lie none of the elders believed her. Not only she lost the chocolate which actually belonged to hers but also got a telling from the elders to never cheat and lie. I had felt very guilty but could never tell her the truth... Me and the cousin in the plot shared the chocolate with her but we never revealed to the elders that she was not in fault. Years later on the day of my wedding when we all cousins got together... I and the cousin in the plot had finally revealed to her.. And she actually went around telling the elders see I was not at fault. But yeah, everyone had a good laugh.. And the elders never remembered the incident though. But yes, a burden was off our hearts that day :)

    1. Thank you dear Ira for sharing with me today. How odd that our conscience pricks us for as long as it takes to come clean.
      I'm imagining your Shaadi scene and smiling:)
      Thank you.

  15. I think all children push the boundaries and lie on occasion. I remember my daughter telling me she had eaten the banana that was clearly lying in the trash can untouched.

    Your retelling of this even from your childhood was beautifully written. I was really drawn into the story. Weekends In Maine

  16. I remember a big lie I told my mom about one of my teachers, that the teacher had locked me in a closet. Why I told her that I have no idea, and I don't remember even telling my mom that. I do remember the teacher I lied about was a nice one that I liked, so it would have made no sense to try to get her in trouble. I remember my mom coming to the school and being very upset about it. It's a strange memory that had been long forgotten until reading your "confession."

    1. I blurted out OMG loudly to myself (of course) as I read your comment Jade!
      Did your teacher ask you about it later--after your mom left?
      Imagine what a field day Freud will have with your story:)

  17. I feel like the lies we tell as children stick with us deeper than the ones we tell as adults... I was always a terrible liar, I cried every time I tried to tell a lie...

    The Multicolored Diary

    1. Sweet. You are a pure soul indeed.
      I had to work hard to cleanse my demons:)
      Yes, that's true--perhaps because as children we are less corrupted by the world.

  18. Loved your confession story Arti, well really a child's heart is so pure and delicate that these small lies can create deep impressions, I am glad you could unload it.
    So sorry to read that you lost your mother at such a tender age, but yes she is always with you in your heart and in your memories.
    I remember hiding and reading the Mills & Boon books when I was in 8th and 9th grade. At that age those books were too alluring and couldn't stop reading them but always my conscience alerted me that I am doing something right...
    Sorry for being super late... Love Nisha


I would love to hear from you. Please leave your thoughts and comments here.