Friday, August 22, 2008
The Girl Whisperer
as published by
The Sunday Guardian of Aug 17
The Mark Of Cain
The Whisperer is going the way of the scribes of old with this piece. In the days of old, long before the earth consisted of more than a handful of people, there lived a man named Cain who committed an unmentionable act. He killed his brother when he thought there was no one looking. But as is the way of secrets, he was seen and he paid a heavy price for his sin.
There are many people living with heavy secrets, secrets as weighty as Cain’s, bearing things by themselves they would never tell their partners even on the pain of death. It’s amazing what the psyche of some people can carry. There are those who would break out in rashes if they lied about taking someone else’s drink from the fridges at their places of work but there are those who ‘forget’ to tell partners that they had a baby before they met the partner six years before. There are husbands who ‘omit’ to tell their wives they have twenty-one year old children out in town somewhere.
The issue for debate- Should a partner be told everything? Should one’s true love be informed matter-of-factly that there is a history of schizophrenia in the family and there is likelihood that the children will inherit it? Does a partner need to know that the woman he loves with his heart and soul is incapable of bearing children? How important is it that he be informed that some youthful escapade took away his true love’s chances of ever becoming a mother?
The world is a delicate place, a lovely, wonderful place that has many beautiful moments and many other moments that can tear the heart to pieces.
As I drove from Igbo Ora, Nigeria’s land of twins, after a television shoot several nights ago, I placed my head against the coolness of the glass window of the production bus I was in, thought of the tranquillity we had seen in that town and how free of worry it had appeared and wondered if even in places like that, there are those who bear the mark of Cain.
Life is what we make it, some sages say, and they go on to say where we are today is as a result of the decisions we made yesterday. Unfortunately for mankind, there are some decisions made yesterday that refuse to go away. How many people have ever sowed wild oats on Saturday and prayed for crop failure on Sunday?
Back to the mark of Cain. Should one tell of the invisible mark on one’s forehead? Should one reveal the consequences of actions that one has repented of, but of which one can never shake off the results?
Some people will say what you don’t know can’t hurt you, and that ignorance is bliss. Maybe so, yet on the other hand, if you have to be crafty, lie, steal and cheat to keep who loves you, isn’t your happiness tainted in some way? It’s not the same kind of high if you cheat in an exam hall to graduate from university as we all know (If it makes little difference to you how you succeed, I’m not writing this for your benefit). There is a confidence that arises from knowing you’re on the right side of the ‘law’, that you’ve gotten it right this time. When we have to keep secrets from those we love, something dies in us each time they smile at us, each time they hold us trustingly and tell everyone else they would trust their lives into our hands without a second thought.
There are those who say everyone’s got a secret (or two) and so why rock the boat, why disturb the equilibrium? My point is that if you have to hold on to the person you love by weaving a fantastic tale held together by gossamer threads, there’s a problem.
I have had many fantastic tales woven for my benefit in my life-time; I have seen many relationships that appeared solid, crash because one partner didn’t come clean about some past incident for many, many years, until it was too late to correct the situation.
The Whisperer says come clean. Those who will love us will love us. Often, our relationships do not need as much shoring up as we imagine they do and they can bear the ‘storms of truth’. It is better to come clean about a ‘mark’ you bear even if it appears invisible to all around. You might be pleasantly surprised to find your partner will help in the total erasure of your pain, blowing away your troubles like a child might decide to let a kite go, cutting the string that holds it to earth. All things are possible.
If on the other hand, you are willing to die a little each time your loved one holds you close, then you must tread the path you have chosen. As I quietly contemplate humanity from behind rolled-up car windows, I wonder to myself often, how many people are walking past, with secrets they dare not share.
If you have met the partner of your dreams, the real thing and not a semblance of what might be real, think again whether what you are keeping to yourself goes to the fundamentals of the relationship. If it does, you have to disclose the facts like the insurance companies insist. If you choose not to, you bear the risk alone and the consequences if there ever are any. There are many things partners need never know, but none of it is like the mark of Cain.