Monday, August 03, 2009
The Girl Whisperer
as published by the Sunday Guardian
of 2nd August 2009
The Whisperer is in the city of London as he writes this. A city meant to be in the middle of summer but still feeling very cold to a body that has been warmed over several decades by the African sun. He sits quietly, looking out of glass-plated windows at blood-red buses carrying people to varying destinations, people meditating on their own thoughts and he remembers some of the lessons life has taught him.
One of these is that the best revenge you can ever mete out is the revenge of living well. For everyone who has ever abandoned you in a relationship, who has ever looked at you and told you, you would never make the cut, that you would never be a success; it is your determination to prove them wrong that should be your driving ambition. It should not be you praying night after night that they stand under a crumbling skyscraper, that a speeding car runs them over or that they accidentally swallow ground glass. The best payback is the one that improves you so much that both the doubter and the rest of the world are awe-struck when they finally see you come up for air.
Another lesson goes hand in hand with this. You must always remember no one is compelled to believe in you or your dreams and aspirations. There is no one who owes you that obligation, not your mother or brother or best friend. The primary believer must be you. If you do not believe in yourself, no else can, no matter how much they pay lip service to your cause. “There will be miracles if you believe”. The power of consistency and single-minded pursuit of a cause can never be over-stated. Take the Whisperer’s word for it as he once took the word of Professor Adeoye Lambo, the renowned psychiatrist, in a quiet conversation at a dinner table years ago. Lambo said, “A cutlass has only one sharp side”. Keep cutting.
You will also learn that success has many parents but failure is forever an orphan. There are many who lay claim to having lent a hand to the supposed, perceived success of the Whisperer but this man can count and he knows those who truly believed. Guard your heart, guard your strength, and keep true friends. Nwabundo Onyeabo, I’m never letting you go.
The Whisperer has learnt that not all that is gold glitters. In searching for potential in prospective partners, the flashy are not always the best options. Often we do not look below the surface, as we are swept away by the glamour, the glitz, the trappings and the tinsel, but there are deeper things and those are the things that will last when the surface trimmings are gone. And believe the Whisperer when he says the surface trimmings will go, some sooner than later.
A lesson that must never be forgotten is that patience is a virtue and it will serve you when other things have failed. Often however, we are not prepared to wait. In a world of instant gratification, we expect results at the click of a button. One day, your ship will berth in the harbour, carrying all (or who) you want if only you can resist the urge to be hasty. I have seen things I longed for; fall in place many years after, even though not at the time I desperately sought it, and I have chosen to believe that the eventual timing is the right one. Beware of desperate steps; the darkest night lived will turn to day.
The Whisperer has learnt not to believe in stereotypes; for angels come in many forms and not all of them are pretty but they are angels all the same. The most-sound advice he ever got in academics came from a classmate on a dusty classroom corridor when he was thirteen; and help has come from unlikely sources like “area-boys” when he was stranded and at their mercy. Do not judge a book by its cover or a potential suitor by pedigree or family history. Open the book to read and then if it does not catch your attention, throw it away. Note that I did not say to take the book home when you can steal a quick glance through its pages by a busy roadside. The world is full of surprises and the book’s contents might surprise you. Everyone has a story.
I have learnt that the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence, that for some reason, many humans are wired to believe what lies unattainable just across the iron-gate is much better than what they have in their possession. We long for the good-looking person who goes past the door every morning, thinking of how life would be a much better place if only that beautiful person existed in it. The only fault with our calculations is that we underestimate the baggage other people carry. There are a number of variables in every relationship; the mind-set of the people involved, their personal quirks… Sometimes we do not realise we are in possession of the real deal, that we hold gold in our hands as we strive for “fools gold” in other places, material that bears a semblance to the real thing but is of much less value.
I have learnt that happiness and laughter know no colour or language barriers, that you can find happiness in the company of those who are young at heart and contentment with those who are truly content. I have learnt that truly peaceful people are priceless and a person who is like “still waters” can be calming to the soul. I have learnt that a person dies on top first and the day you lose your childhood is the day you lose everything.
I have learnt you must be able to speak the language of children and have the strength to look Presidents in the face.
I have learnt you must love yourself first before you can truly love others and though others might have the ability to make you happy, there is no one who can give you joy. It is your duty to find that wellspring inside yourself.