Monday, August 31, 2009

My First Lie

I haven't really continued with my blog now have I? But I've continued writing though. this semester i decided to enroll in a course on creative writing as a part of the humanities course that we are all supposed to do each semester. I realized that the work load would be unnecessarily high considering that I've hardly ever written anything substantial, unless you count those high school essays about which there was nothing creative at all, just a couple of hundred words structured in a preset way that was bound to get you good marks. But after hearing so much about Prof Rukmini Bhaya Nair, or RBN as she signs her mails, i went ahead and signed up.

The first exercise we got was to write about our first lie - ever. Now since there was no way that you would remember your first lie, the piece itself had to be a lie. And this was after a lot of stuff had been said about how fiction - despite being false; had to be true enough to be able to relate to.

Anyway, here's what i submitted:

My First Lie… The title sounds so momentous, doesn’t it? Images flash of me battling against my moral code to be selfish just this one time. Images of devilish imps whispering into my ear, cajoling me into lying. Heroic images of being caught in a moral dilemma where telling the truth could have brought harm to someone else, and where I unselfishly sacrificed my soul for the greater good of mankind.

While I might not remember exactly how it happened, I am quite sure of how the historic event might have taken place. And I say this because I distinctly remember having the same thought process for years to come, one which stirs up occasionally even today.

So here goes; my great confession. Sitting on the floor surrounded by toy cars and with a colourful noisy little toy in my hand which I was banging away happily against the floor, my eyes turned towards my mother who has just walked into the room with a cookie in her hand. A high pitched squeal emanated from my throat and my mother promptly walked toward me (she had heard my call for attention), held the cookie in front of my face, out of my reach, and asked me happily “Is Apoorv a good boy?” Ordinarily, I would have been annoyed and would have started banging my fists on the floor and wailing. My mental faculties which didn’t go much beyond “I want this” or “I’m hungry” or “My clothes are wet” hadn’t yet begun to process the dynamics of conversation yet. But today I understood that a question was being asked which required a response in turn. So I stopped in my tracks, thought for a minute and said “Haan (Yes)” curiously awaiting what would happen next; fists ready in case I didn’t get my cookie. My mother smiled, gave me the cookie, pinched my cheek and ceased to matter for a while because I now had my cookie!

I’m not entirely sure whether this constitutes to be a lie. I mean, what sort of a question is that to ask a child? If my Mom asked me the same question today, I still won’t know how to answer it truthfully. I didn’t even know the concept of good and bad back then! And even if I did, what was I supposed to say? “Oh mother! I do sometimes cry just to get attention, and I don’t always tell you when I need to defecate; but my heart is in the right place!” “Haan” was probably the peak of my vocabulary back then.

But it sure wasn’t an entirely truthful answer either. All I wanted was my cookie, and I did what I felt was required in order to get it. I deliberately manipulated information to achieve my own end and stated something which had not reasonably ascertained to be true; and that constitutes an act of lying as assures me.

So there it is. My first foray down the dark path. Well, if you think I’m going to defend the actions of my toddler self, you can forget it! That little chimp knew what he wanted and he did everything he could to get it. What an inspiration!

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