It was around 9:00 pm when I called her as usual. As it was our custom, we would start cracking jokes and laughing from the onset. This call was not an exception.
After about two minutes of constant laughing and joking, I asked, “so how are you today?” she hesitated for a while and responded with a question, “what kind of question is that?” I laughed because I thought she was cracking another joke. After all, I had asked her this question many times and she had not had any issue answering.
However, this day was an exception for her. A day she wanted to set the record straight. It was not business as usual.
It finally dawned on me that her question was not just another one of her jokes. I had to clarify my question. In a gentle voice, I told her, “I just want to know how you are doing?”
Then she started, “I don’t mean to offend you but you’ve been making me a liar. Every time I answered you “I’m fine” I was lying. I don’t want to keep lying anymore.”
Innocently, I asked again, “what do you mean I’ve been making you a liar? Why would you lie?” I was eager for my charges to be read to me.
In response, she gave me this statement, “when you ask me how I am, I’m not sure what to tell you. I don’t know what area of my life you are interested in knowing. Is it my health? Is it my family? Is it my studies? I don’t know which one I should reveal to you. So I choose to tell you I’m fine when sometimes I’m not.”
Her response intrigued me. I thought about the many conversations I had had with people. I tried to remember the number of times I had told people about an aspect of my life they hadn’t inquired.
To my amazement, the only time I could remember ever telling someone things about me they didn’t ask was when I wanted stationery or something from my parents while I was still in school. Maybe there are a few other cases. I just couldn’t remember any specific one.
What is the moral of this story? While the conversation I had with my friend is by no means the standard for personal interactions, I believe it can help us learn some vital lessons…