Thursday, May 22, 2008

THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING LIKE THE TRUTH

If there’s one recurrent trait I notice about Sri Lankans, its our Gross National Propensity to lie.

I figure this tradition started about two thousand five hundred years ago when a rascally Indian exile said “I love you bebes, and I Swear I always will” to a local wench with his fingers crossed behind his back; since then we have simply fine tuned fibbing into a National art…financial standing, number of Exes, boob size, age, you name it , we seem to compulsively alter it and present anything but the truth.

Even really mundane day to day facts get twisted with the calm aplomb of dedicated professionalism. Concepts like “ I only had one glass” or “Im just passing Borella (and how many times I have heard that in the Kosgoda bus!)not to mention the mother of all small corporate fibs “Im at a meeting , can I call you back?” from guys on the way to a bit of afternoon diversion…
Passive lying (which is when you have to listen to ground splitting inaccuracies being vocalized in front of you and have to shut up and let them go on) is almost as important as the original sin and I confess I have not had the courage to stand up and object to my moral space being thus violated, which fair makes my skin twitch.
You see, when I was a kid I was told that if I lied the ground would crack and Id fall through and end up in really hot water .To add serious worry to my juvenile concerns there used to be a sizeable crack in the concrete in our front driveway which seemed to expand each time I attempted to so much as stretch a fact or two, circumvent the absolute truth,, or even slightly waiver from the straight and narrow.
I have since figured this was faulty masonry but thanks to this crippling fear I have never been able to polish my fibbing skills to even a remotely passable national standard.
I paint and write passably well, or so I think , but unfortunately professional pretense is a talent I have not been able to master to even a half presentable level compared to the local pros, somehow coming from me, it just dosnt work. I honestly find myself marveling with respectful awe at some of the poker faced, effortless gems of linguistic misrepresentation I see around me on a daily basis..[1]
Mindboggliingly, considering the murder , corruption child-trafficking and an entire list of offences from grave crime to civil misdemeanor (and lots of good old fashioned garden variety adultery too) which goes on around us and is entirely impossible without the use of effective lying , it would appear that this is the one talent this nation excels at
--And this in spite of the fact that Sunday Schools and daham paasals are packed with earnest cherubic little patriots being lectured against lying till teachers and students are both blue in the face…which is a pity because if you consider very carefully, isn’t it obvious to you later on that the better you lie the higher you go!?
And I don’t mean to be a prissy little hypocrite here- so I assure you, that were I actually capable of remembering the facts, I would very much value the strategic advantage in being able to lie my way through life. Unfortunately some bits of wiring seem to have malfunctioned and the few honest attempts I made at properly perjuring myself led me to such obvious red faced perspiring embarrassment that I was forced to give up and retire to the comparatively safe ground of being entirely honest (or at least staying mum) because it was that much easier to remember the facts if they were true. I have trouble remembering things that DID happen (genetic, what with Grandma Isabelle) so trying to make up stuff which didn’t would probably be the giddy limit. So in my case its sheer necessity that makes it important to stick to the truth.
As a nation where we have collectively become so used to subtracting the exaggerations by default, and adjusting for dishonesty, the problem then is that if someone were to go around actually telling the truth , the strain of it all would probably be too much for our lie conditioned hard discs to handle and we would freeze and malfunction.
This does have a funny side, if like me you have given up trying to convince people anything. Sometimes the urge to lie is tied up with the urge to defend yourself against wholesale inquisition leading to large scale gossip- so a good way to nip things in the bud would be to quell speculation at the start and for example give them the information exactly the way they want it, before they have to fish and dig for it .

Try some of my unusual answers guaranteed to make people thoughtful:

· Oh, him ? he’s my Secret Paramour
· Thanks for the complement; I think I’m looking fairer today because I had my monthly bath…
· I’m sorry I got late; I was looking for dry underwear….

Now obvious truths like that should certainly seal the cracks in your masonry if nothing else…
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[1] “But I SENT you the spreadsheet last Friday; just check your junk box it may have fallen there”

3 comments:

Dili said...

ok im a smooth talker sometimes but any yarn Ive ever knitted for getting late pales in comparison to your lack of dry underwear LOL :D

Aravinda said...

Dear,

It will be great if you can change your theme and keep spaces between paras.

Its so difficult to read in the current format.

sachithvida said...

Can't agree more... We are kind of addicted to lying. It is a way of life.