Lying is one art you will never be able master. A very fascinating diplomacy it is,lying.
From your days of prime righteousness, you had watched as other kids in your neighborhood, from your brother, flaunted this skill. You watched as they rolled out words from the pit of their stomachs in lies to their parents whenever they’d done something deserving of a punishment.
Your brother was a master in this game of logic. Remember the afternoon he asked you to sneak out of the house with him to play football. On a Sunday afternoon, and your mother had served you both eba and egwusi,instead of the cliché Sunday rice and stew with goat meat. She then locked the house, put the keys under her pillow and asked you both to go take a nap. Siesta was compulsory on Sunday afternoons in your home. You weren’t feeling sleepy,and she’d switched off the T.V,and locked the parlor too. You both grew tired of watching ceilings and concrete walls,you played cards till you became exhausted and yet,sleep wasn’t near.
‘Let’s go and play football nah,’ he nudged you an elbow.
‘But the doors are locked. How will we go out?’
And after seconds of his plotting, he told you not to worry. He only said you kept mute,and never say a word. You both went to your mother’s room and woke her up.
‘Mummy, we have catechism by 3.’
He said betraying no emotions. This boy would make a good screenwriter,and actor,you thought, this brother of yours. Your mother was strict, so your heart began to pound. Too many questions; what if she probes more, what if she knows you both were lying, what if she picks up her phone to call the catechist, what will she do to you both? She will flog hell out of you, starve you of dinner, lock you up in your rooms till after two days, flog you still. Questions you never knew how to process came like rushing streams to your head.
‘Somto,is it true?’
‘Ma…?’ pretending not to hear her. For few seconds you were dumb. Your brother would beat you, or refuse to talk to you if you ever spoilt his show. So without thinking, your heart still pounding, you wait for her to repeat the question. And without thinking, you said ‘YES!’. You do not know where your answer came from, but it was a saving grace. Her eyes moved from your trembling face to your brother’s who stood. Unflinching. She didn’t say anything further, she dipped her hand into the pillowcase,and retrieved the keys. Handing it to you,not your brother, she said,
‘Be sure to return early.’
You had pleaded with him to teach you this strength which he wields to lie to your mother. This strength accompanied with wisdom with which he creates the alternate universes he recounts to your mother on the dining table, at dinner.
‘You will learn. It’s very easy.’
You never did. Or maybe you did.
On a hot afternoon, you had welcomed your mother from the market. Greeting her at the door. You were surprised at how early this woman had returned. She doesn’t respond your greeting. She only stares askance into your face.
‘Nwokem, kedu ife bu ifea ichiri n’ihu?’ My friend, what is that smeared all over your face?
‘Gini kwa?’ what is it?,you asked her. Oblivious of the fact you’d previously painted your face with her makeups. Brown powder,mascara, purple lip gloss, eye-shadow and blushes. You never expected she’d return home this early. And you’d fallen asleep with your painted face in her room after trying on her heels and practising catwalking.
‘Bia ebea!. Kedu onye tee gi makeup?’. Come here,who made up your face?
Then it dawned on you that you’d messed up and was in for serious trouble. You had to think of something, else an ambulance would show up at your doorstep to take your corpse away.
‘Makeup kwa?’ you said rubbing your fingers on your face.
She was expecting an answer. You dare not keep her waiting.
‘Amarokwam ooo. O ga-abu Ifeanyi.’ You blamed it on your brother. You had forgotten he too went out in the morning with your her. And after series of failed logics and unhelpful lies you’d spewed,she descended on you. You do not remember what happened, but the earth became dark and void to you; without any definite form.
As years progressed, you grew. And so did your skills. In lying, never football. Dribbling is a very onerous task to you. Your brother had taught you well. You too now became master in this game of logic.
Like the first night when you returned home at 10 and your mother had asked where you were coming from.
‘Church’. Your face betraying no emotions.Blocking out all the voices that told you lying was a contrivance. And she believed you. You were happy. She would never know that was the night you had a quickie with the pastor’s help in a bulb-less toilet in the Church. No one saw you,not even God.
Or the night you had returned staggering,your mouth reeking of fresh baba-blue scent. Shades,jean jacket,ripped jeans with a plastic can of coke in your hand.
‘I na-anwuzi mmanya?,’ you now drink?. She’d asked.
Trying best not to fall flat before her from the drunkenness you were battling, struggling with your legs to bear your weight just for few more seconds, you replied a faint ‘No’,then shut your mouth to avoid it spewing rubbish that would betray your lies.
‘It’s just coke,’ you said raising the can to her face, then left for your room. What she never knew- or chose to pretend not to know- was that what you had in your hand wasn’t coke, but doctored drinks, mixed in unequal proportions to increase highness.
She believed you once again.
That night, at midnight,your body sold you out as you regurgitated everything you had for the past three days you’d been away from home. And she was the one who rubbed your back, gave you water to wash your mouth and helped you clean up the mess you made of the bedroom.
What you will never know is that she was setting you free. A twenty year old is no longer a kid to be left locked up in a room with a 50cl coke bottle to pee into, or a custard bowl to poop into when the need arose.
‘Why do you think I lied to her? ‘your brother once asked you.
‘Because she’d never allow us go if we told her the truth…perhaps?’
‘Bro, see, mummy knows all these things. Sometimes, she knows we are lying. She just wants us to lie to her. And other times, she doesn’t know. But she likes to pretend to not know we are lying.’
Once,this woman had told you, ‘stop lying to me. It doesn’t fit you. All liars are Satan’s children, and they must go to hell. Do you want to go to hell?’
And for the fear of hell,and what Brother Felix,the catechist, teaches about Satan,you always said No!.
And you’d always wonder if she ever told this to your brother. The one who taught you to lie unremorsefully. You wondered if she ever preaches to him about Satan and hell,the way she preaches to you. He needed it more,the preachings. He was more wayward.
Like water and oil, your mother and brother can never mix together. Much so why he left the house, leaving no clue why he left or where he’d gone to. He was the one you went to find when you encountered men who like him were not like your mother.
You are the end-product of these two liquids. Of lies. And righteousness. Like water and oil, you are at conflict with yourself.
But you will never understand why.
Stevens, Somtochuqu,on some days likes to think himself a writer. He wants to become a doctor, and own a highly sophisticated hospital in his home country, Nigeria. While still struggling with the system to get himself into the university to at least achieve his dreams,he has taken to writing stories he is afraid to share. When he is not writing, he spends time sleeping, daydreaming of a life in Canada, whiling away on Facebook, eating or reading. Exactly in that order. He thinks Nigeria is an abusive mother to boys like him.
He can be reached via Instagram @_Somtochuqu.