One day, I'd gone to visit him (we lived an hour away from each other), but he'd had to go to school for some spur-of-the-moment thing. I didn't have anywhere to go, so I hung out in his apartment alone. For hours.
I've always been very nosy. We all have our weaknesses.
I started looking through his stuff. At first just rifling through papers on tables. Eventually I was scoping out a closet. And I found a Pakistani passport. I didn't think much of it for a little bit, but 10 or 15 minutes later, I had it in my hands again, wondering what in the heck THIS could be? I'd never traveled internationally. At first I though that if you had to travel to Brunei, maybe your plane would stop - maybe they gave you this as a travel document thing? But of course after a few minutes of mulling THAT over, it didn't make any sense. I kept looking over the line. Citizenship: Pakistani. They certainly wouldn't grant citizenship if you were just flying through. He must be from Pakistan. He must have been lying to me the whole time.
I had to ask him. But how? You can't very well tell someone you've been looking through their CLOSET. I needed an alibi. I went through that house with a fine tooth comb - looking for anything I could have (more innocently) stumbled upon that would've have given it away. Nothing. Eventually I found my way to his internet site (his school had a webpage for every graduate student that detailed their work.) I'd spent two months staring at his picture on that page but I'd never noticed it until I was searching for it. But there it was - paydirt. He'd listed the school he went to for his undergraduate degree. A quick google search later and I had my link. He'd said that he's never been outside of Brunei until he came to America - how could he have gone to school in Karachi?
But then how would I ask him about it? It didn't seem like there could be any good resolution - who lies about where they're from? I couldn't think of any reasons for him to do that except for nefarious ones. I would have to make sure to ask him about it while we were in a public place, and be sure not to come back to his apartment with him - what if he was dangerous? I'll admit that I had wondered before if some of the weirdness had been because he was in reality a member of the Bruneian Royal Family - it was such a terrible turnaround to now wonder if he was a danger to me.
My time was running out though. I'd spent hours snooping through his stuff. I had to get out of there. I called him and suggested that I pick him up from his school (he had no car but lived within walking distance.) When he got in the car I racked my brain with some way to bring it into the conversation naturally, but I couldn't think of anything and just ended up blurting it out:
"Why does your website say you went to school in Pakistan?"
"Because I did..."
"But you said you'd never lived outside of Brunei before coming to the Us?"
"Oh....well, I guess it was just school, so I didn't think of it as living there..."
"But you said you'd always lived in the same house as your family?
"Yeah.....umm.....they came with me."
Ugh. That last one was so obviously a lie I was speechless. And darn that school-within-walking-distance thing, we were already at his apartment. If I'd given into my instincts I would have run away, but I didn't. Instead we just sort of sat in silence at his apartment for a while until I said "You lied to me about where you're from, didn't you?" and he said yes. What else could he say? It was so obvious. He explained that he didn't want to scare me off in the beginning, and he thought the word Pakistan would do that. And then he was just stuck.
Turns out that one of his friends had said I was too intelligent NOT to have figured it out by then, and they'd been convinced I was just playing along. (How sad for me. Nope, apparently I'm not that smart.) We talked for a little bit about it, but then I had to go. We didn't talk at all the next day. I wasn't sure how I felt about it all. It wasn't just the two months of lying. I also felt like a fool. So stupid for not picking up on the clear signs, and for reading and talking so much about Brunei for the past two months. Also, I understood the fact that when he met me, he clearly hadn't been looking for anything serious. It was the first day we hadn't talked since we met each other.
By then end of the day I missed him so much. I was still upset and confused and didn't know what to do, but at the end of the day, I found myself on his doorstep. I knocked and he came to the door, and none of it seemed to matter anymore.
I bought books about Pakistan the next day.