We are four longtime friends. Although we have different careers, we maintain close contacts. Once we decided that we should undertake a pilgrimage to Tirupati, to worship Lord Venkateshwara. We met up in Tirupati at the appointed day and time. We planned to scale the seven hills by foot.
Being out of shape, I found it difficult to keep up with the other three. I told them, “You all carry on. I shall catch up with you at the queue complex entrance gate. Our time slot is a few hours away.” They agreed and trundled off.
When I met them at the gate after some time, they sported anxious and puzzled looks at me. The ring leader said to me, “Hey, what happened to you? Your clothes are in disarray. You seem to have scraped your elbows. Did you slip down or what?”
I started a long monologue in an excited voice, “You are not going to believe what happened on my way up! At the edge of the pathway, I saw a small crowd looking down a deep precipice. A couple with panic writ large on their faces, with the woman literally in tears, caught my attention. I went to the edge and saw a 10-year-old boy desperately clinging to the roots of a tree some 10 feet down the incline. I saw immediately that there were footholds. Without hesitation, I carefully treaded down the incline, lifted the boy and clawed my way up slowly. The tearful mother after grabbing the boy from my hands, folded her hands in gratitude. The look on both the parents’ eyes more than made up for my trouble and here I am, at last!”
A meaningful look passed between my friends and one of them said in an emotion-filled voice,” We are proud of you. Let us have the darshan of Lord Balaji and thank him for bringing you back safe and sound.”
We had a grand darshan and took the TTD bus to Tirupati town downhills. One of my friends said,” It is an eventful day. We must celebrate the great act of courage performed by our friend here! Let us go to a five-star restaurant and have a great repast to truly congratulate our friend.” And we quickly landed up at a famous, and obviously an expensive, restaurant. All of us had a sumptuous meal with all the trappings.
The waiter came with the bill. All my friends looked at me with menace in their eyes. I tried to stare them down, but to no avail. I had no choice but to quietly pay up.
Alas! My little fib (They say, I am a habitual liar) cost me Rs.4729.
Adding insult to injury, they also made me pay five hundred rupees as tips to the waiter!!
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