Keeping a dinner date..!

MY secretary stood at my office door a grin on her pretty face, “The Punjab paper editor just said he’ll send your cheque tomorrow! Aren’t you happy?” I looked at her eager face and felt sad to disappoint her, “He won’t!” I said.
“He told me he’ll personally post it!” she whispered tearfully, “He sounded convincing!” “We’ve become good at it!” I said sadly, “Tomorrow when you call him, he’ll say he just posted it, after that he’ll blame the postal system for the delay and a year later we’ll continue staring at an empty bank balance!”
I watched the poor girl walk out of my office, crestfallen. But that’s what we’ve all become, convincing liars! And no, it isn’t only about payments, “Hi Bob!” my friend calls out, “How are you placed this weekend?” “The same way I was placed last weekend, and the weekend before, and even the weekend before that!” I say with a cynical smile, which seems lost on him, as he continues, “Then let’s go out for drinks and dinner together!” “Same place, same time?” I ask. “What?” he asks slightly confused.
“Do we meet at the same place and time, as we met last week and the week before and the week before that? And order the same drinks or shall I change mine to something stronger, like Tequila shots?” He suddenly understands and grins sheepishly, “Look I’m sorry, something came up last week!”
“And the week before!” I say, as he looks down guiltily. “So tomorrow what time?” I ask purposely. “I’ll call you!” he says, and suddenly I look him in the eye, “Why, let me call you!” I say, “round six okay with you?”
He nods, but I know when I call at six and seven and eight, his phone will either be switched off or won’t be answered. We’ve become a people of words! It makes us feel good to call someone over for dinner, without that dinner ever happening, to offer help without any help ever materializing, to say we’ll send a payment the next day, without any such money leaving our pockets, our banks, or maybe even our minds!
But words are offered, promises made, and the giver of those meaningless, useless utterances feels good as he strides away or puts the phone down.
He’s fooled someone again! My mind goes back to three years ago; I hear a voice on TV, “I promise you fifteen lakhs in your bank account! I promise you progress, and minimum government, maximum governance! I hear a voice in America, “I promise you jobs, jobs, jobs!” I see people voting for the same promisers and then look up as my secretary pops her head in, “Will you be writing for that newspaper sir?” “Yes,” I tell her sadly, “Here we live by hope, that maybe, maybe somebody will keep a dinner date..!”

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