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Early memories are notoriously unreliable, but I have have a few that remain vivid.to this day.
The first (and last) time I saw a wild mountain gorilla.
The time Dario and I destroyed the swimming pool at kindergarten.
The time I quizzed my mum about the existence of Father Christmas.
The time I tricked my dad…
This was the first time I truly appreciated the power of manipulation.
One day on the drive from our house in Goma to visit our friends on the shores of lake Kivu, five year old me was regaling my parents in the back of the car by pretending to be asleep. They were patiently playing along, passing the time until we turned onto the dirt road down towards the lake. The distant peak of mount Nyiragongo bouncing around in rear view mirror, growing ever smaller by the minute.
When we arrived, my dad held out his arms to lift me out of the Pajero, at which point I closed my eyes and proclaimed for the nth time, “I’m asleep!” Dad snapped and told me to stop being silly. Queue the waterworks! I was genuinely upset. Even though I knew he was right, I was annoyed that he hadn’t believed me.
I stewed on it for the rest of the day until it was time to head back to the city. My little bother asleep in mum’s arms in the back of the car, I was in the passenger seat with my dad at the wheel. I decided then I was going get him. I really committed and didn’t say a word, slowly letting my eyelids become heavy as we approached the city. Pulling into our driveway I remained still and slowed my breathing. Still wide awake I listened to my parents delight in two sleeping boys and how best to get us into the house without disrupting the peace. Channelling my inner Olivia Coleman I resisted the urge to let out a smirk. My mum carried Tom into the house whilst dad quietly closed the door on the driver’s side and walked round to get me. I kept up the act and let my body go limp as he tiptoed up the stairs and turned towards the bedroom. This was going so well, I could barely contain myself. As he reached down and softly placed me on the bed, I stuck out my arms and legs and yelled “I’M AWAKE !!”
Hook, line and sinker, I had totes succeeded in deceiving him.
Deception is powerful tool, and so easily abused. These days we are being manipulated at rate far greater than ever before. We live largely online in personalised bubbles, constantly being told what we think we want hear by advertisers and political parties alike.
Here in the UK we are approaching our third general election in almost as many years. When it comes to voting, please don’t base your decision on anything you have seen or read on social media, but do make sure you vote. The only way we will come to any real consensus is if every single one of us has a say.
I often wonder why that memory in particular remains so strong to this day. It was on that same road where I got my mum to admit that Father Christmas didn’t exist. Perhaps the two memories reinforced each other? Perhaps they were just moments of pride for having figured something out on my own?
Mind you, I wasn’t exactly a genius. I still continued to believe in the tooth fairy for a fair few years after!