The first question I asked M when I first met him was about where he was from. He said the city we were currently in. I said, "No, I mean where does the accent come from? Where are you from originally?" And he said........."Brunei."
He lied about where he was from!
I've since heard that he'd had some trouble with people being put off by his Pakistani-ness. He and his friends had decided that if they met any girls, they'd lie about where they were from. (Clearly this means they didn't plan to spend a long time with the girls they were thinking of. _
So when I wrote before that the very next day after meeting M, I went out and bought a book about where he was from, I actually bought a book about Brunei. When we met at the movies that night, we met outside, introduced our various companions, bought some popcorn and picked out good seats. Then, the first words out of my mouth after sitting down were"I spent all day reading about Brunei!"
He was overjoyed, of course. Ha - NOT! I guess I'd backed him into a corner, but of course it was his own fault. I asked him so many questions that night; what did he think about the royal family? (He said he didn't want to talk about them because they were all corrupt anyway.) What would they do after all the oil ran out? (Another thing he didn't want to talk about since not enough people in the country were planning properly for the future.) What about the Australian cows! What language did he speak?
Lucky for him - or unlucky for me, I guess - I didn't figure it out. In part, this was because I sometimes answered my own questions. When I asked what language he spoke, I supplied options - Malay? Arabic? (Him: Uhh.....YEAH! Malay!) Other times I made do with his crappy deflections and changing the subject.
It went on like that for two months. Two Months! I feel so stupid when I remember all the signs I missed. I remember he said one of his friends was from the same country he was, but then that same friend talked about having an family member in the Pakistani military (easily explainable - his family had emigrated to Brunei.) One of his friends I knew was from Pakistan, and another was from some random third country (also a lie) but when I asked how they all seemed to understand the same foreign language, he said they'd just been friends for a very long time. I even saw a documentary and asked why he didn't look like most of the people in the film - of course his parents had emigrated to Brunei also. I was so blind!
And the weird thing is that he's very proud to be Pakistani. He's embarrassed now that he lied like that. Even during those two months, he was telling me things about his country that he loved. He was just worried that any potential girl would be scared away in those post-9/11 days. Actually, I'm not sure how much I knew about Pakistan then - I might not have been smart enough to think being from Pakistan was much different than being from Brunei.
But the funniest part of the story is probably How I ended up finding out the truth?