Illustration: Arati Kumar-Rao
Illustration: Arati Kumar-Rao


A short story.

Biru Bhandari, short for Birendra and all eleven years of age, told a lie.

This wasn't his first time, of course. Biru had lied before but earlier, it had always been for a purpose, whether to divert his mother's rage or his father's reprimand. He hadn't dropped his glass of milk, it had been Shanti the maid. He hadn't lost his embroidered handkerchief at school, fat Nirnit had taken it. He hadn't been talking in Mathematics class, Neupane sir just didn't like him. Some nebulous telos, however dubious. And he wasn't hurting anyone, he told himself, for he had learned to rationalise his actions at a very young age.

But this lie was different. It had no intent, no object, no reason-to-be. It wasn't malicious, but it also wasn't preventive.

He had been idling in his room, his feet hanging off the edge of his bed, staring off into space, playing absently with a thread that had come undone from his wool sweater. It was winter break. He was bored. His father had appeared at the door, all small shoulders and sinewy arms, a schoolteacher, and absently asked what Biru was up to.

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Himal Southasian