by Vimala Ramu
The other day, I saw my husband talking to my neighbor in a tone lower than usual. My curiosity aroused, I waited for him to come in and asked breathlessly, “What secret were you talking about?” Great wit that he is, Ramu told me, “ He told me that ‘Whisper’ is now only Rs 26!” lampooning the sanitary napkin ad that is being telecast aggressively.
Jokes apart, do men have secrets? Can they keep secrets? What is it that they think are ‘secrets’? Reading the ‘agony aunt’ columns in the magazines, it is obvious that some of them at least do have secrets. But, secrets once conveyed, cease to be secrets. Of course, military secrets are properly classified and are revealed only at the cost of one’s own job. I am discussing here secrets of a lesser order but spicier ones.
I am reminded of a fable where the king had donkey’s ears, which he had kept secret from his people by wrapping his head well in a turban. Only his barber knew about it. Being a human being, it was a great stress for him not to convey it to somebody. He could not tell it to another human being. If he did, he was sure to be hung. When he could no longer keep it to himself and thought he would burst with the secret, he ran to the forest and confided to a bamboo bush that the King had donkey’s ears. Later, when a flautist made a flute out of the bamboo and played it, it sang, “The king has donkey’s ears” and the fact became an open secret throughout the kingdom!
Women are considered to be no good at keeping secrets. Earlier, they were not so. There
is a story from the great epic Mahabharata as to why they became so. When Yudhisthira came to know too late that the great Karna was their own elder brother, he cursed his mother Kunti, “Why did you have to keep this secret from us? But for your wretched secretiveness we could have avoided this horrible fratricide. Here after, let no woman be able to keep a secret”. Thus, due to the blunder committed by one lady, the whole womankind has become a sieve as far as secrets are concerned. Since Mahabharata is a very ancient epic, it naturally follows that women have always been unable to keep secrets. A legendary and mythological justification that comes in handy at times!
The first confidant that the secret is shared with, be it the neighbor’s love affair or the secret disease of a relative, will be the husband. So, it is not that the husband is not a recipient to secrets. It is just that there is a remote chance of it being propagated further, not because of any high moral standard the men boast of; It is just that, they may not think the secret to be of such gravity as to be worth conveying .Secondly, they may not have retained it in their memory. Thirdly, they lack the skill of dramatic narration of their wives to make it interesting enough to other men.
In fact, giving out secrets is the best part of gossip. It has now been medically proved that gossiping is good for health. It prevents further drastic actions on the part of the perpetrator. Well, if men want to adopt a simpler method of avoiding heart attacks and killer intentions, they better take to gossip and letting off of secrets.