Remona AlyTuesday 22 August 2023 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2
Vampires, lies and a Sufi wisdom
I told a white lie the other day and the strain of it reminded me of how bad a liar I’ve always been.
Back in the 20th century, a couple of school friends and I planned to watch the 90s gothic classic, ‘Interview with a Vampire’, starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. Excitement mounted as we made our way to the biggest cinema screen we could find, feeling rebellious as the film was an 18 certificate, and we all fell short by a year.
The ticket booth lady asked us one by one if we were indeed 18. ‘Yes, I am,’ came the assertive reply from Friend 1. Friend 2 quipped an unambiguous ‘Yep!’ The lady then turned to me. I suddenly felt very hot, trying to shrug off the angel of truth tapping at my shoulder. I opened my mouth, willing myself to think of Brad Pitt’s luscious locks awaiting us, but out came, ‘No… I’m, er 17.’ The eyes of my friends rolled all the way into the back of their heads, and that was that.
But no matter how taxing it is to lie, I’ve often found it even harder to tell the truth. When dark days make me crumble inside, and someone asks how things are, I’ll still say ‘Everything is fine’, worried that my weakness can make me look like a failure.
I wonder how many truths remain unsaid, and how many lives might have taken a different direction, if honesty wasn’t so hard.
What if never telling a person you like them, choosing to hide in the harness of hesitation means missing out on your greatest love story? What if admitting life is tough might save me from the burden of aloneness?
I wish I could bob my vulnerability to the surface as easily as an apple in water, but the pain of truth can sometimes prevent me. Yet, as the medieval Muslim poet and scholar, Rumi, says, “If you want the moon, do not hide from the night. If you want a rose, do not hide from the thorns. If you want love, do not hide from yourself.”
Instead of hiding, I’ll try to face the truth more often, although now I’m way beyond 17, I can’t promise I won’t tell a white lie about my age now and again.