BY WOLE OGUNTOKUN
IT took me a long while to fully comprehend the fact that The Whisperer’s writings are read around the country now.
What started as a conversation between the editor of The Guardian on Sunday, Jahman Anikulapo, and myself more than two years ago on a lonely, dark street, one late night in Festac Town, Lagos, has become a ritual for some, and I am glad and humbled.
Glad that the newspaper had enough confidence in my writings and humbled that so many have taken to the column.
I have made great friends on account of this column and also made some...well...people who are not friends.
Just a week ago, a young friend opened a blog with 20 of The Whisperer’s articles on it. He had taken the time to download them off my blog and upload them on his.
It was flattering but as I pointed out to him, it bordered on an infringement of copyright laws.
It’s okay to keep the articles for your personal consumption but they may not be dispersed outside the newspaper that publishes them.
However, for a few days now, I have sat and thought of the lies we tell ourselves when the truth stares us in the face.
Sometimes we do this because we know we cannot face up to the reality of the situation. Someone you love with all your heart and who once loved you as much has decided you are no longer enough for him.
He tells you lies that are barely covered with a thin veneer and sometimes does not even attempt to hide his dealings with other parties.
Yet, despite all this, despite the fact you know something is seriously wrong, you hold on with all the strength you have, willing all he says to be true.
He tells you he’s with his mates when you can hear girls giggling close to his ear and at such proximity they would have had to be nuzzling him, but you hold on for dear life, because you cannot face what your life would be without him.
Sometimes, the stains of lipstick all over his shirt and in places where they have no business is what you see; stains he in turn, dismisses with an impatient air and an excuse that would not stand up to inspection if held to the light. Yet we choose not to open ourselves to the truth.
What is the reason behind the true lies we tell ourselves? What manner of insecurity and fear sometimes hold us so firmly that we decide to see everything else but the obvious? Is it because we believe life as we see it is over, if the person we are with, leaves us, whether or not he is cheating with everyone else within 50 kilometre radius of our home? There is no one person in existence that has not told himself or herself, true lies.
Everybody is somebody’s fool, is what they say, but if you fall into the hands of a person who takes your heart for granted, you will learn the true meaning of pain.
There are partners (male and female) who will leave you after the most romantic night, a night in which you felt your hearts sang to each other and drive immediately to the home of someone else they are professing ‘love’ to.
The partner who tells you he or she is on the way home from some event and then somehow does not take your calls at the time you have calculated he or she must have arrived home.
The one who clandestinely passes his or her phone to another while he or she imagines your back is turned so a phone number can be entered and a new ‘friendship’ built.
The world is full of good people but make no mistake, there is a dark side to many of us as well.
THERE is a point we all must get to; a point where we must tell ourselves that what does not kill us can only make us stronger.
There is no human who should hold your life in such a way that you think there is no future if that person deserts you.
A person who is dextrous at playing the field with your friends, your colleagues and even your family has already deserted you in his heart.
What you hold is a shadow, pure smoke, an intangible substance that was once of value.
There is such a thing as pride, as dignity, as self respect. The ability to hold your head up high is one every human should cultivate.
It is not arrogance to insist that you will not accept being served rubbish in a restaurant. If you place any value on yourself, you will refuse to be short-changed, to be handed the short end of the stick.
People try us out all the time, checking their limits and the things they can get away with. They feel out our standards and if they think they will get away with murder, they will push for that.
Why are there 23 million people in American jails and a thousand new entrants each week? It is because the system tells them continually it cannot be defeated; and pushes back as hard as law-breakers push at it. In a system where rules are not enforced, anything goes and anarchy will rule.
This is not to say there are no crimes in that country, deviant behaviour being the default setting of many human beings; it has more than its fair share of killers and rapists, but still the system strikes back when it can.
This is the way it should be for us, we should have a limit to the things we will accept and we should know that it is dangerous to lull ourselves to sleep with True Lies.
There is one inalienable right in life, the right to deceive yourself; no government can take it from you.
However, we should know the dangers of that route. If we place so little value on ourselves, others will haggle over our wares, offering the most debasing prices.
Hold your head up with pride; you have a right to live peaceably in this world too.