The Girl Whisperer
as published by
The Sunday Guardian of March 9
Everyone knows that déjà vu feeling when it comes to relationships. It’s that sinking sensation in your stomach that grows as you realize you have made yet another mistake in your choice of partners. You look at him or her as the relationship gets heated and suddenly have a moment of epiphany, facing the stark truth for the first time and telling yourself like the Ghanaian judge, Nana, would do in West African Idols as she assessed yet another musical hopeful, “It’s not working for me”.
What is the déjà vu feeling in matters of relationships? In other matters, it’s when you do an act, say a line, are involved in a sequence of events or stand in someplace and have that feeling of certainty that you have at some point in the past, done or said the exact thing you are doing or saying at the present time. It can be an eerie feeling and it is almost always disconcerting. According to the more supernatural minded, it’s your soul revealing to you something you did or said in a past life. Scientists, however say it is a trick of the brain when it makes you think something that happened a split second before, actually once took place hundreds of years before. I would like to stand on the side of the scientists and the trick of the brain in this matter.
George Santayana said that now well-worn statement, “Those who do not remember the mistakes of the past are compelled to repeat it.” Every time in my life, I have pursued someone just for the sake of her brilliant looks or her sensational mind, the graceful way she carries her self or the way her teeth just gleam in the sun, I have learnt a very hard lesson. At each point, such relationships have self-destructed, I have been forced to look back and relieve similar relations in the past and the fact that they all went the same way.
I’ll confess here, that before I learnt the mastery of my emotions and my feelings like every Whisperer should, I would start a relationship with a girl for the sake of her looks and fair skin alone (I’ve always been a sucker for that kind of girl). Before you call me shallow, do not forget you must like a girl for something; her brains, her endowments, her homeliness, her ambition, her beauty; there must be something that is the initial pull for you. For me, it used to be dazzling good looks and fair skin. I cannot tell why, maybe it’s because I was born dark. However, before long, her inability to comprehend why I liked the poetry of W.B. Yeats would begin to bother me. I would fret if she could not read Wole Soyinka’s ‘Ake’ and see it as one of the best books ever written. And if she watched ‘The Pianist’ with me and couldn’t understand that story of the second world war starring Adrian Brody is one of the best movies ever made, I’d get a feeling of déjà vu. Now, I am not saying your partner must share all the same interests with you. Your dream person might like mountain climbing and learning languages while all you want to do is dance salsa, but still the mind must have a meeting point if you do not want that feeling of déjà vu.
So, many of us, choose to like girls for their looks. Unfortunately, that is one of the most dangerous premises to lay a relationship on. Looks will fade and even if they do not, at some point or the other, the impact they once had on you might not be so resonant. Halle Berry has had men in her life that ill-treated and left her after a while (and she’s a specimen of superb exterior beauty). Moreover, a better-looking woman will always come along if you go for looks alone, but do not fall into the trap that makes you equalize a beautiful face and body with a beautiful heart and spirit.
So today, I sit thinking of all the relationships I have had from my days as a teen, and how some went bad, and I know many could have been avoided if I had been able to resist being smitten by the first smile that came from a perfect set of teeth and a svelte body.
My brother, Jinta, would tell me all the time in the early days, “it’s not just about looks”, but I did not listen. I learnt the hard way and so I ask you to learn from one who has been there and done that. It’s not all about looks. It is about the total package. Good looks are okay, but the heart must be good too and the temperament must be a beautiful one too, so you do not get that sinking feeling of déjà vu as you wake up beside her on some dark night when it might be too late.