Saturday, February 28, 2004

Lies are bit of a grey area
Prerana Trehan

IT is certainly a black day for Raghav. He can feel his teacher give him a black look across the classroom. He sighs, the first day in the class and he is already on the teacherís black list. He really hadnít thought that a little white lie would get him into so much trouble.

When his parents find out what has happened today, it is going to be another black mark against him. As it is he is the black sheep of the family, and is always in his parentsí black books. The last time he had tried to reason his way out of a similar situation by telling his parents that the issue of lying wasnít as black and white as it was made out to be and it was all right to tell a little lie now and then, they had beaten him black and blue.

His siblings are all highly placed in white-collar jobs and his parents tell him he just doesnít have the grey matter to match their achievements. They say that they can give it to him in black and white that if he carries on the way he is, he isnít going to amount to much in life. His mother often tells him that she has gone grey worrying about him. Of course, when he reminds his parents of all the times he has outshone his brothers in sports, they have a convenient blackout.

I will just have to convince them that I am not as black as I am painted, otherwise I am in for a rough time today, he thinks with a grimace.

Key to idioms used

A grey area: an issue or situation that people do not know how to deal with because there are no clear-cut rules.

A black day: an unhappy day when something bad or sad happens.

A black look: a look of anger, dislike, resentment etc.

A (little) white lie: a lie which does no harm and is more polite than the truth, usually told to spare someoneís feelings or for convenience.

A black mark: a mental or written record of someoneís misconduct, failure, etc. that counts against them.

The black sheep (of the family): a person whose conduct is though to be a disgrace to the family or the group.

In someoneís black books: out of favour with someone.

Black and white: if you think that facts or situations are black and white, you have a simple and very certain opinion about them, often when other people think they are really more complicated.

Black and blue: having bruises on the body after an accident, fight etc.

A white-collar job: a profession or business that involves mental rather than physical labour and is done in an office. A white-collar worker refers to a person who does such work.

Grey matter: oneís brain, intelligence, powers of reasoning etc.

In black and white: in writing or in print. Also used to refer to something that is clear and definite.

Go/turn grey: become grey-haired.

A blackout: a temporary loss of consciousness or memory.

Not as/so black as one/it is painted: not as bad as people generally say or believe.

(Reference: Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms)