Updated: Sep 8, 2020

The man smiled at me, his dimpled cheeks red, as he approached me. I laughed and fell into his arms, pressing against him tightly, channelizing my affection into the force with which I hugged him. He slid his hand down to the small of my back, and circled it lightly with his finger, a delicate, pleasurable gesture. When I broke away, my face was flushed. I whispered, ‘Bye,’ and turning around, I began walking the other way, when, out of nowhere, I felt this excruciating pain spread from my back to my neck and hips. Shivering, I touched the area the pain was centred, and felt an object stick out of it. I turned around, and saw him stare at me, his lips stretched into a smile that did not quite reach his eyes.

When we are younger, we trust everybody, regardless of whether we personally know the person, or not. This comes from being unaware of how, what one person might say, can be quite different from what that person might think. We take individuals at face value, and we are in a state of confoundment on realising that they were not who they said they were.

As a teenager, I have had encounters with close family members, who speak ill of other relatives, and then, when they are in conversation with the same relatives, they are sweeter than sugar. It has frustrated me to no end, because I do not understand why anybody would do this. I have many classmates who bitch about one another, but if you’d see them have lunch together and to any outsider, it would seem like they are thick as thieves.

Hypocrisy, a term accurate for this behaviour, is so prevalent in our society, that it makes you feel paranoid about getting real with any acquaintance. What you might say to a friend, in a fit of rage, is presented by the same ‘friend’ to a third party, out of context, and then you are at a loss of words. But that is not what I meant!

If you really despise somebody so much, just say it to their face, and move on. That is umpteen times better than being stabbed in the back by somebody you had trusted.

So, if there is an alternative, a much simpler, more convenient one, to being hypocritic, then why do people do it in the first place? I believe this behaviour has a significant relationship with opportunism and ingratiation.

We build a network with the hopes of getting something out of it, something that benefits us. To make sure that we do not lose the favour of a particular person, we pretend to like them, we flatter them and support them outwardly. However, the frustration of doing so builds up, and we take it out elsewhere by saying bad things about the same person. While there is nothing wrong with catharsis, ideally, we should say these things we truly feel, to the person himself, but we do not.

Whenever the chance presents itself, we side with this person, or we ditch him, using everything he or she shared, while confided in us, against them, because that is advantageous to us, at that time.