Looks Can Be Deceptive by Devika Fernando
Looks Can Be Deceptive
by Devika Fernando
The title for my book came after I had the idea ready and was itching to write. It just fits the story well, but it also made me think about the bigger picture: If you really want to get to know somebody, especially in love, you need to scratch the surface and go beyond, you need to look further than the obvious.
Aren’t we people always quick to judge? We see somebody with shabby clothes, and we think they’re dirty or lazy or poor. We see a woman with too much make-up and revealing clothes, and we think she’s cheap or a slut. We see a man dressed in a suit and exuding confidence and politeness, and we think he’s respectable and successful, in control of the whole situation. But what if under the shabbiness there lies an artist or somebody protesting against the norm or somebody sick? What if lipstick and high heels are a masquerade to cover up the bruises of an abusive relationship or the desperate need for some affection? What if that man is shielding himself with a mask, and is actually suffering from depression, feeling lonely or forced to do something he abhors?
Society is unrelentingly quick to judge, to categorize, and to apply one stereotype or other to somebody. Sometimes we might project something we instinctively look for onto a person, at other times we might be blinded by what they willingly show and not even realize that there’s a different personality lurking behind. Like a fruit with a hard shell and sweet, succulent flesh or with a soft shell and a hard, inedible seed inside, exterior and interior can lie worlds apart. That is something I had to learn the hard way while growing up, be it through my own parents or outsiders I met along the way. It also struck me when I came to Sri Lanka to live here and was confronted with a world completely contrary to Germany. Not everything that looked like a tropical paradise was positive, and not everything that reeked of misery was filled with only negative things. I realized that you have to want to understand and not just take in, that you have to listen and not just hear.
More often than not, our eyes are not what we should use for looking, but our heart and our brain. It’s why I don’t like the saying “What you see is what you get”, because reality is often obscured, and what lies hidden might be a different truth. Cathy, the heroine from “When I See Your Face”, has to learn exactly that. She was naïve and hopeful enough to fall for Mark’s handsome looks and status and promises, but he turned out to be the opposite of what she had thought. This happens a second time when she meets Michael, who looks exactly like the husband who has never loved her. She needs to learn not to reduce him to his face, and to dig for details. When you read the book, you will realize alongside her how many small differences there are, and how deceptive looks can be.
Tomorrow, Devika will return to share excerpts from her debut novel, When I See Your Face.