I grew up believing my parents were married but separated and that my father worked in India. At some point, quite late on, my early teens I think, my mother told me in a roundabout way that, in fact, she had never been married. I was a naive child and had never thought to question the things I was told, a situation that I suspect today's children would find hard to believe.
Discovering that lie, which had been the basis of my life up till then, threw everything into doubt. The Indian doll allegedly from my father, the £5 note my mother said my father had sent for me when I passed my 11+, how could I see them as anything but fabrication put into place to help maintain the story?
But now I wonder.
Husband's family history research has shown that my father did indeed spend time in India so it is possible he brought home a doll for me. And he might have sent me a reward for my first academic success: he was a barrister after all; maybe he thought I had inherited his brains.
He might actually have thought about me once or twice in his lifetime, not as a nuisance that shouldn't have happened but as a child of his. Not enough to want to meet me but maybe a little more than one of his neatly filed and finished-with legal cases. I'll never know. He, my mother and my grandparents, the only people who could have told me, are dead.
That's the trouble with lies: they undermine truth.