Monday, 10 August 2009

Extreme Games

The Girl Whisperer
THE phrase, “Cry me a river”, might first have been made popular in a 1953 song by Arthur Hamilton.

In painful love song after song since then, those lines have been heard repeatedly.
It may have several meanings including making more of a situation than you should, worrying endlessly over a situation than is appropriate or just endlessly troubling yourself over affairs of the heart .
And so this article is about the dangers of us all upsetting ourselves over matters we really shouldn’t.
A week ago, a newspaper gave prominence to a story about my work, not all of it flattering, but like P.T. Barnum wrote so many years ago, “I don’t care what you write about me, just spell my name right”.
Last Sunday, the day the story broke and as I watched over preparations for my weekly stage shows, which had gone on for an unprecedented two years, the telephone rang and a guttural voice spoke to me in Yoruba.
“It’s me, from Osogbo”. “Right”, I answered, “Who are you and how may I help you?”
This obviously provincial Yoruba man continued, “someone brought your photograph to us so we could do you harm, but because we are not people who hurt others needlessly, we thought to tell you and to give you the remedy against whatever else he might plan for you.”
For those naive about these things, he was not talking about brawny men in baklavas catching me alone in a dark alley-way and breaking my kneecaps with baseball bats.
He was referring to the very predominant African belief that people can “Bluetooth” danger to you.
According to this man, the fellow, who took my photograph all the way to Osogbo for some kind of “wireless activation”, had stayed the night in Ibadan, so eager was he to reach them.
I was told I had to hurry to Osogbo immediately or at the worst, they would send a messenger to Lagos to show me the photo.
I was informed I was not to have the messenger arrested. Now for those who may not know, The Whisperer has a Master’s degree in law and remembers enough of his lectures to know the threat of harm through witchcraft or “jazz” is not a punishable offence.
I have produced more than two hundred stage shows in the past two years and I knew I could not have cast a better person for the role of a man issuing veiled threats to another human life than this man that was speaking quietly to me over the phone and sometimes murmuring to another person who must have been standing beside him.
He suited the role of a man who knew of untold dangers and hidden connotations, perfectly.
I asked him what the name of the person who had brought my name and photo to him was, but he told me to be patient and that all would be revealed in time.
Now, the worldlier will shake their heads here and say, “what nonsense! but I had just been the subject of a two-page onslaught in a newspaper that very day, and had good reason to believe there were people who did not like me. The timing of the Osogbo phone call was impeccable.”

BUT still, The Whisperer knew there was no one who had gone to Osogbo with a photo.
These part-time witch-doctors had probably just seen a story on me, concluded I was big enough to be a target and had decided to seize the moment.
It was fantastic timing. As for the Whisperer’s photograph, eleven years of major stage productions around the country have ensured there are enough people with photographs of him and his phone number.
The Whisperer’s administrative manager and one of his closest friends, lala, had stood, head touching head, listening to the conversation over the cell phone.
At the end of it and after I had told the man from Osogbo that I’d call back (I never did), we addressed the cast for Wole Soyinka’s Madmen and Specialists. The topic? The dangers of believing all you hear.
If The Whisperer was given to believing the potency of “juju” on his person, he would have made a habit of running for cover all his life or worse still, run to meet the man in Oshogbo for “protection”.
However, I was born arrogant, and it would take more than a rustic medicine-maker from Osogbo to set him off his course.
The moral of this story? Don’t let yourself be stampeded no matter the issue. There is a saying The Whisperer believes is applicable to all those who have suffered broken hearts, “beware of desperate steps; the darkest night lived, will turn to day”.
In relationships, we tend to worry, giving voice to fears that are not even fully formed.
I have read in some book and I agree that when we worry in that manner, we are paying interest on things we may never own.
Why add to life’s natural stresses by thinking up your own? If your relationship is intact, stop thinking of worst-case scenarios and how life might end if your partner runs off or you find him (or her) with another.

WORRY is a natural phenomenon but you can shake it off, stomp on it and rise a little higher each time it comes near you.
As an aside, when I was in my early to middle teens, I had a crush as big as a house on the daughter of a University of Lagos lecturer.
Many years later, when I met a mutual friend of ours, my childhood crush and the subject of my dreams confessed to having had a crush on me in those years as well.
The Whisperer knows the world well and the ways of man (and womankind) but was struck dumb by that disclosure.
It was very pleasant to find that even as a child, when I fretted and troubled myself over unrequited love, I was the subject of that person’s crush too.
There is a lesson in that for all those who have troubled themselves about matters of the heart and continue to do so.
For all those who have expressed their appreciation of the Whisperer’s writings through e-mail, I say thank you.
Through the month of October, and to add a different dimension, the Girl Whisperer will be dealing with men’s issues on stage in the ‘Tarzan Monologues’. It’s The Whisperer’s birthday on July 15 and he gives a toast saying, “May those who love us, love us. And for those who refuse to love us, May God turn their ankles so we may recognise them by their limping.”

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