Saturday 6 June 2020

'The Lies We Tell' by Hema Nataraju

This Diwali, we’re celestial. Baba has somehow got John Kapoor, the Bollywood star to come over! I’ve got new clothes this year, not hand-me-downs. Baba is wearing a shirt, buttoned up all the way up to his neck and Ma’s brought out the teacups reserved for special guests. Baba’s fat boss is smiling even though he’s not the center of attention this time. Ma says Baba might even get a promotion.

John arrives wearing dark sunglasses which he doesn’t take off at all. “Walecome” Ma’s grin is too wide, too  lipstick-y. I wish she would just speak Hindi. John only nods. He’s so much shorter in real life, I think. We’re snacking on chai and samosas when the snotty neighborhood kids swarm at our window, craning their necks, trying to get a look at John. They’re my friends, but I pretend they don’t exist.

Next day at school my friend Priya says he wasn’t the real John Kapoor at all, just a cheap look-alike. Everyone laughs. My cheeks burn. I run all the way home, hurt simmering under my skin. Baba is in the garage. When I ask, he spits in disgust. Priya, her family, his boss and all the neighbors are bloody jealous liars, he says, while trying to mount a Mercedes-Benz emblem on his rusty second-hand car.


  1. The ending is funny and elements of story felt relatable.

  2. This made me smile so broadly! Lies: the stuff of our lives that we tell ourselves doesn't exist. I absolutely love the way you told this story!


2024 Wigleaf Longlisting

Huge congratulations to Lisa Alletson whose 2024 FlashFlood piece, ' Translucent ' made the Wigleaf Top 50 longlist! You can read th...