Monday, October 20, 2008
The Girl Whisperer
as published by
the Sunday Guardian of Oct 19
ANATOMY OF A WOMAN
You don’t have to be an Einstein to know that the Whisperer is fascinated by the female form. (Interpret that anyhow you like) He loves the beauty of womanhood and the grace by which many of that ‘tribe’ are naturally endowed. About two years ago, the Whisperer stood waiting for a food order with a friend somewhere in Surulere, and somewhere in the conversation, the phrase, ‘Anatomy of a Woman’ was birthed.
So the Whisperer wrote a stage play about it and had it performed several times at the Muson Centre and Terra Kulture. It focused on gender relations, the complications and undertones that continuously affect the manner in which men and women regard, and relate with each other. One of those performances (March 2007) featured one example of some of the best forms of female beauty to emerge from this side of the planet, Stella Damasus.
What reminded the Whisperer of the ‘Anatomy of a Woman’? As he stood by the ticket stand at Terra Kulture waiting to produce another play last Sunday, a vision of loveliness appeared. It was Peju Alatishe, the architect and writer of the work of literary fiction known as ‘Orita-Meta’ (Cross Roads). The Whisperer has known her for more than two years now and Peju continues to fascinate him the way the writer, Chimamanda Adiechie, fascinates his big brother, the geologist and man-about-town, Toyin Akinosho.
Peju is beautiful in every sense of the word, honestly. For those whose hearts are not large enough to accept when another woman is being...ahem... praised, there are no apologies. It’s like saying Raji Fashola, the Governor of Lagos is a good governor. It’s a given. The world realizes that, even with the discomfort the citizens’ face with his machines chewing up the streets of Lagos. But I digress.
Back to the purpose of this piece. Many of us have people we are smitten by. They are people we find attractive, and are easy to converse with, They have keen minds and seem to fit our bill on all fronts. Yet even with this, women and men practically live on different planets. And it is a patient man who makes up his mind that he will attempt to unravel all that is mysterious about females. Or a very foolish one.
The things that are considered important by women are often disregarded by men. Men tend to judge their contribution into a relationship by the things they physically do. ‘I bought a return ticket when you went for your summer holidays last December’. In the mind of a man, it’s a grand gesture, the same as having bought a car for her or something of earth-shaking importance as registered on the Richter scale that rules in the world of men , and should be enough to hold her for a year at least. The man expects gratitude all the way, no complaints, no grumblings and cannot figure why a woman would act in the next breath as if it was nothing. If another man is the recipient of such a ‘magnificent’ gift, the receiver is grateful for all of eternity (well, most would be). He would find it hard to expect another gift until time had lapsed on that one. Not so for women. In the mind of a woman, giving her the Eiffel tower weighs the same as remembering her birthday. To her, there isn’t much difference, really. A gift is a gift, an act is an act. Men are the ones who carry measuring scales and shake their own heads in self-appreciation when they remember how generous they have been.
The Whisperer was once like this, unable to figure women out, until the calling came. He had read in a book that the ways in which women and men perceive the world are different, but had ignored it. He learnt the hard way.
Now it doesn’t really matter what colour or creed the woman in question is. Women are basically the same all over the world, (after you factor in the cultural differences). They speak Armaic, and the men, Greek. There are no similarities, no reference points. Both languages have been around for a long time, but are spoken by entirely different groups.
It is a rare man that can make an extended conversation on the phone with a woman if it is not a life or death issue. After the initial period of wooing when you spend hours on the phone and they seem to be only minutes, there comes the point where your phone habits diverge. A woman can move from topic to topic, glossing over or harrying the subject-matter depending on how the mood takes her. She will expect her partner to concentrate and give intelligible replies. The man on the other hand, is ‘gone’ after a conversation that takes more than one and half minutes. He might appear to be grunting replies but is really on auto-pilot, reading newspapers, packing his stuff for work the next day, gesturing at his friends standing by and waiting to go out with him. Different worlds.
The man comes home after work and is silent but the woman comes in and wants to have a ‘discussion’. One of these two species really is from another planet. Yet, living in harmony means you must find one, (I speak to those who are monogamically inclined), learn her quirks, her likes and dislikes, pray hard, close your eyes, and jump. Attempting to figure out what makes a woman tick is to attempt to count the stars in the skies. You get frustrated and the stars continue to look down coolly at you.
So, I’ll continue to appreciate lovely people like Peju Alatishe, while understanding that she and her specie speak a code that is state-of-the-art while most men still use sign language. And I’ll think to myself, ‘what a wonderful world’.