In the morning of August 29, 2011, we had the Hyderabad Marathon and a dear friend of mine, Bhasker Sharma, from Bangalore, was participating in it. He had asked me to come to the Gachibowli Sports ground at 9 a.m., by which time he would have finished the race. I went there at about 9 a.m. and was very excited as I was meeting Bhasker after many moons.
At the gate, I was flagged down by an officious police official who prevented me from going to a spot closer to the stadium. I told him that I was there to receive the marathoner who had come in first in the event. He looked at me and flagged me off with a big smile on his face. I had lied, as I had no idea if Bhasker came first or not. I did not feel good about it. It was playing on my conscience, even as I alighted from my car.
I met Bhasker on the track and realized he was a celebrity! He had done some 31 marathons and everyone seemed to know him. I was in great company. I was basking in his glory and was holding his bib, his small eats, anything for somebody to know that I was Bhasker’s friend! I managed to catch up on old times but after a marathon, it is a bit hard, and Bhasker was patient with me.
The Prize distribution was on and we were heading toward the podium. Then came the vote of thanks. No, Bhasker’s name was not called out. Dutifully, I got Bhasker and his brother into my car to the nearest auto-rickshaw and he left. I felt guilty on two counts — I had not spoken to Bhasker long enough or taken him home, and I had lied to the police guy at the gate.
About 4 p.m., I called Bhasker and caught up with some quick chat on the phone as he was heading out to the airport. He said that it was a great marathon, his personal best timing of sub-4 hours, and added that it was a bitter-sweet one for him. He had been called out by the organizers for being the first in his category (above 50 years), and at that time we were out of earshot. He missed receiving his trophy from the Governor. His prize would be sent to Bangalore.
And I remembered the conversation with the policeman and smiled. It was a prophetic lie, indeed!
Sometimes in life, if there is an universal truth out there, even a lie turns true...