To hide or not to hide

I was watching a talk show, in which the host was trying to learn the truth about a specific matter. And to do this he said, “let’s ask the children, they do not lie”. While I understand that children are more likely to give honest answers because of their innocence and simple-mindedness, one thing I am sure I did as a child is lie. A specific occasion I remember occurred during a family road trip to my hometown.

I remember waking up to the sound of my Dad arguing with Police Officers. My dad kept saying that he had done nothing wrong, and he had all his particulars. But the police officers wouldn’t let him go. They wanted something else. I knew what they wanted; my dad knew what they wanted. But my dad wouldn’t give in, I mean there’s only so much 20 naira a man can give without feeling exploited. So the policemen threatened to take my dad to the police station. I knew they were bluffing, it was a common threat they always issued to instill fear in civilians.  Surely they were not going to take my father to some police station in the middle of nowhere . . . “Let’s go to the police station !”, my dad retorted out of nowhere.

At that moment, I was shocked. I still remember my heart palpitating as they motioned for my dad to get in the car. My dad was usually a pacifist, but this time I could see it in my dad’s eyes, he wasn’t going to back down. I wanted to shout at my dad, “please just give them the money! ”, but at thesame time I understood why he was so angry. We had passed so many checkpoints already and had given money to a lot of officers.

So I decided to take matters into my own hands,as I did what any heroic child would do in that situation.
I cried.
But that just made the situation worse. The attention was now on me, as my already annoyed dad, kept asking my already frustrated mom why I was crying.
In my head, I had it all planned, I was going to cry out to the officers, “please don’t take my daddy away”. I thought surely they were still empathetic beings, who could not resist the cries of a little girl. My plan was ingenuous. However, there was only one problem. I couldn’t bring the words out of my mouth.

I couldn’t bring myself to say it. The action itself felt cringeworthy, it wasn’t me. Saying it meant I wasted years establishing myself as a tsundere character. Only for me to break it by saying such corny words while crying. As I was still deciding whether to say it or not, I looked at my dad’s face and I saw that he didn’t want to lose. I knew me saying it would make him lose (surely he wouldn’t be able to resist the sorrowful look of this charming little girl). I could already imagine the police officers saying, “shey your daughter dey cry. . . make you tell your papa oh”. And before I knew it I found a teary eyed me whispering, “I’m hungry”.

Minutes later, the ambiance in the car was intense as we were back on the road. Somehow, the situation had resolved itself. And I was too busy swallowing rice and my tears to pay attention to how it got resolved. I couldn’t taste the food. I don’t know if it was due to the salt from my tears or my sense of taste just went missing . Every time I tried to stop eating, my parents ranted on how I woke up from sleep and started crying because i was hungry. Therefore, here I was a fallen hero who had no choice but to swallow rice. My heart has felt no worse pain, I wish my parents knew the sort of emotional ordeal they put me through. At that moment, I looked at my dad’s posterior view and said to myself, “Behold, the man I shed my tears for has betrayed me. Indeed, men are scum!”

While I doubt I ever said that, this event reminds me of one reason I lie – to hide. I lie to hide what I’m thinking, I lie to hide what I’m feeling, I lie to hide. . . I have no intentions to stop. I am aware that it yields  results I have to be responsible for (yes, I learnt that moral lesson from  swallowing rice). But at least when I hide, I do so responsibly.


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