Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Girl Whisperer
as published in the Sunday Guardian
of September 20

The Promised Land

For many of us since the earliest days of childhood, we have dreamed of a place in our lives that we know simply as the Promised Land. We have told ourselves that if we can only attain this state of bliss, some might call it Utopia and others, El Dorado, all our troubles are over.

As children, this Whisperer inclusive, the dream was finding the fabled pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It did not matter much to us that the pot of gold was reputed to have been placed there by leprechauns or equally unappealing folk. The driving force was that if we could just reach the gold, all our troubles would be over. As a child, I would pick up the shattered remains of car wind-shields and imagine the crystal pieces as handfuls of diamonds. Yes, I had a very vivid imagination as most children had, really no different from the alchemist trying to turn stones into gold.

Age does not always bring wisdom, and as we grow older, we exchange the wild dreams of finding ten billion American dollars lying on the street waiting for us, for the more adult ones like a young girl finding instant happiness in the hands of a fellow she just met at a social function or in church. It is important that the Whisperer is not misquoted here- you may find your dream partner at a social function or in church; a night-club might be a bit more difficult to find eternal happiness in, but it is not impossible. Stranger things have been known to happen. That fellow with glazed eyes and shaky feet you collided with while he stood trying to maintain his balance by the music speakers, and as you tried to find your way down the dimly lit hallway on the way back from the night club’s bathroom, after throwing up the mix of drinks you had placed on an empty stomach, might be your knight in shining armour. Yeah, right.

So back to the night club or church or bus or public library (we do not have too many of the latter here anymore) and the accidental collision with the person who might take you to the Promised Land. You look into his eyes and you know this is the person you have been waiting all your life for. We all know that feeling, don’t we? That moment of absolute certainty as you round the corner and run into this other person; that moment of déjà vu when the whole world stands absolutely still, and you are the only ones moving in “slow motion” as you both fall to your knees, trying to help each other pick up the books scattered everywhere (assuming it is a library) or a plate of food assuming it is a social gathering. Your eyes are locked on each other’s as your hands scrabble for the dropped items. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

That moment also is one of the greatest delusions on the face of the earth. You may round a corner and find a stranger absolutely attractive, stunning or mind-blowing or any combination of all three; and the security detail might have a hard time trying to persuade you not to follow this person home. (Brittany Murphy and Nicole Kidman would probably have that effect on me) but you need intensive therapy if you think that is how long-lasting (and healthy) relationships are built.

You do not build the foundation of relationships on the illusion that your hand tingled when you shook hands, that there was just something in the eye of this person you met, or that your heart knew you had found eternal happiness when you hugged. Relationships are built at the warfront, in terrible weather, through sludge and slit and rain and snow. You hold on to it like a soldier-in-training holds on to his or her gun as the elements batter you, and believe the Whisperer when he says the elements will batter you. You take the good times, when the sun is shining and all the music you hear tells you of the beauty of what you have, and you take the rough as well when your partner appears to be an alien from another planet.

When the Whisperer talks of the elements battering you, he is not talking of a physically abusive partner. If you are the victim of physical battering, cut and run while you can still move (and if you are so inclined, give his address to the Whisperer, and I’ll sort him out for you). There will be pain in every relationship though, no matter what they tell you. Every relationship will have a flip-side as you try to communicate and level out your differences. There have to be speed bumps as you race on to El Dorado.

Remember that if two people agree all the time, it means only one is doing the thinking. People with different backgrounds and personalities will sometimes have divergent opinions and these will cause friction. It is a mature relationship that purposes it is on to something good and will hold on no matter what comes.

The Promised Land is a long trek, across deserts, through never-before-navigated forests, waterless places and some of the most unforgiving terrain this world ever saw. It is a place filled with pain and extreme joy. And it does not happen in a flash, like gold left behind by some leprechaun with amnesia.

Every strong relationship has probably gone through some kind of fire that burnt off most of its impurities and there is no human combination that does not have its frustrations and short-comings. Along the way, people make their minds up that this is who they want to be with and also purpose to work hard at making the partnership succeed. Those who have failed at relationships are not lesser people, sometimes some combinations just do not work.

It is possible that when I finally meet Brittany Murphy, I shall discover a beautiful face does not necessarily guaranty a wonderful, warm person. Maybe. In the interim, it would be wise if you remembered that as well.


Doyin said...

With regards to having people sorted out... You could probably slice someone's head off with your words, but what about that physical pain, though? Can you do that? Cos if you can, I think I might need your services........

'Dara said...

Growing up with disney and all those teen flicks did fill my head with all those 'eyes-meeting-across-the-room' dreams but then reality came and woke me up. I couldn't agree with you more, relationships that stand the test of time are not built on empty fantasies.
Great to have you back blogging 'Papi.

Anonymous said...

you know everyone or should I say every nigerian says you should not find your husband/wife in a club. 'A church or work is a better place to find a mate'. I am really confused when I turn up at Church the morning after saturday night out at the club and find half of the holies at church were at the club with me last night and even more so when I go to yellow chilli at lunch time and all the workers having lunch were also at the club last weekend!! Whats a singleton to do?!

Mother Africa said...

"...The Promised Land is a long trek, across deserts, through never-before-navigated forests, waterless places and some of the most unforgiving terrain this world ever saw. It is a place filled with pain and extreme joy. And it does not happen in a flash..." You are right! great post! thanks very much for sharing!