We had been to a friend’s place the other day. My friend and I stood outside his house talking. A neighbor of my friend who also happens to be our common friend saw us and joined. We 3 stood outside and spoke for some time until I got ready to leave. I bid them both goodbye when this common friend said “I am sorry, I could not call you into our house. Our house is dirty. But let’s definitely meet sometime”. I was not expecting him to invite me and did not know how to react. The way his facial expression changed when he said “our house is dirty” was enough for me to believe his every word. I looked at my friend and he too made an expression which told me this common friend was telling the truth.
Two parallel thoughts raced through my mind at that moment.
My first thought was a kind of appreciation for this common friend for his honesty. He could have been quiet, or, if he really wanted to say something, he could have given some other reason. But not this guy. Here was an honest person who had put out the real situation. He did not want to call me because his house was dirty. I had a deep sense of appreciation for his good thoughts and his honesty.
The other thought in my mind was a little different. Though I had believed what he said, I was almost forcing my mind to think that he wanted to purposely avoid me and it had nothing to do with his house. I had a line of questions in my mind, which were forcing me to think otherwise. If his house was really dirty as he had said, how was he even living in that dirty house?
With everything going on in my mind, I didn’t say anything but just bid goodbye to them and started back home. The incident however kept playing at the back of my mind for several hours. I had a kind of appreciation for his honesty. At the same time I was appalled at how he and his family lived in a dirty place. Topping all this was the affirming expression my friend had, which told me this was a more common scenario in this common friends place.
But again, what could I do? If there is someone who has to think, it is that common friend who should think and act. Or maybe my friend, his neighbor, should advice this common friend.
After a lot of thinking, I felt I had an advice, from my own experience, for this common friend. Honesty is a good policy. But knowing when to open your honest mouth and when to keep it shut is the best policy.
~Narendra V Joshi