Sunday, 27 May 2012

Comforting lies

"I can't do this Mommy!"
I look up from where I was cutting the vegetables. My daughter pouts. She is ten, soon to become eleven. I was busy preparing dinner, so I did not really pay attention to what she was doing. But seeing her distressed face made me stop. Sighing a little, I put down the knife, wipe my hands on a towel and take a seat beside her.
"What is it sweety?"

She goes on to explain about how she had been trying to make something but it was not working out, and in her fantastical young world, this situation was loosely akin to the end of the world. I had to suppress a smile.
"I'm giving up," she finishes dramatically, waving her hand in a circular motion.
"I see," I raise an eyebrow. "That serious, huh?"
She does not say anything, instead opting to cross her arms and pout with renewed energy.
I remain silent before speaking again. "Do you remember your aunt?"
She perks up. "Your sister?"
I nod. "One and only. She once came across a situation like this. She was working on something, and she could not do it all! She also felt like giving up, just like you."
My daughter remains silent. "So did she give up Mommy?"
I smile. "No. She kept working on it. Every time she failed, she got more stubborn, and started doing it again. Soon, she managed to finish her work! And it was brilliant. Everyone saw her work, and everyone said she did a good job. She kept trying and trying, and she never gave up."
My daughter looks thoughtful. She scratches her head. "So, if I keep trying, I can do it too?"
"Of course."
"Just like her?"
"Just like her."
Her face breaks into a toothy smile. With a resolved look on her face, she goes back to her work again. I watch her work hard, and it brings a smile on my face. I get up and get back to preparing dinner.
My husband returns. He chuckles when he sees our child so busy with her work.
After dinner, she shows us proudly what she has been doing. A house made out of paper. She tells us that she used glue to hold the papers. She looks proud and confident and happy at what she has done. She tells her father that the story about my sister never giving up is what inspired her. My husband happily nods at what she is saying, but for a fraction of a second our eyes meet, and he gives me a knowing look.
I shrug. What else am I supposed to do?
After she has fallen asleep, he comes to me. "You can't tell her stories like that about your sister. It's not...right. It does not feel right."
I look down. "I know. I just... wanted to inspire her."
"But it's a lie."
I do not say anything. He looks at me sympathetically for a while. Then he hugs me and goes to sleep. I stay behind to clean up the kitchen and the mess my daughter had made in the living room. And while doing so, my mind goes back to the time when I was still young. I wish I did not have to lie to my daughter.
My sister, the only one I ever had, was not the shining hero that I tell my daughter stories about. She was severely depressed for the longest time, though we did not always know about it. She was suffering. She was terribly upset, and every small failure that she faced in life only made things worse. She would not always tell us about it. But one day, I guess things got really bad for her. She probably got tired of trying and trying and never reaching her goal.
So she decided to jump.
From the bridge.
Into the waters below.
I did not see her body. I did not want to see her like that. I wanted to keep her in my memories the way I had always known her to be, and not like a lifeless doll.
I did not want to believe that she was gone. So in a childlike way, I started telling my daughter about her, and how she would never give up, stupidly hoping that this would bring her back. That she was not really gone forever. I know I should not tell my daughter lies such as these, but it comforts me, and it makes her happy.
One day, she will know the truth. She might hate me for it.
But for now, I will continue this.

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