Relationship

The Fine Art of Pretence- III

HOW NOT TO CROSS THE LINE INTO STUPIDITY

I have met a lot of stupid people, but none worse than those who either don’t know how to conceal their knowledge and emotions or haven’t learnt how to flaunt it at the right time. These two groups of people are, to me, some of the worst human beings on the circle of the earth. Here’s the reason. The former, like brute beasts, are destroyed by the very powers and prowess they possess. For the latter, they want to please everybody and be the beast of burden.

Earlier we had said a little on quiet people being very dangerous. Now, as sweet as that sounds, it’s not always true. I know about the empty barrel that makes the loudest noise, but hey, even an empty barrel can be coated with thick rubber or leather so that it makes little or no noise. I’ll tell you this: if someone is so often quiet, it simply means they don’t think they have something useful to contribute to the pool of wisdom and don’t want to swell the cesspool of folly either. Or it may mean some even more sinister purpose.

You think I’m not making sense with this? You just study them and try to make some trouble or put them on the hot seat. You’ll see that they aren’t able to respond intelligently when upset; the response will usually be more emotional than rational. Just try it.

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It baffles me that some people can be so naïve, especially women. You got married to this man, he turned you into a punching bag, you kept quiet about it and stayed on in his house until he finally knocked you out. It is when concerned neighbours and friends notice that you’ve suddenly gone missing and organize a search party that they discover you either in a hospital bed or under house arrest, your beauty all but finished. Your morale is at an all-time low, and this time they forcefully take you away amid your muffled protests (you can’t speak loudly because your mouth is in excruciating pain from several blows). Meanwhile, you keep saying, ‘He is my husband. What God has joined together let no man put asunder.’

My sister, let me start by telling you the ugly truth: you’ve taken ‘stupid’ to an all-time high. If ever I happened to be one of those people seeing you in that state, I’d not sympathize with you or rebuke your hubby yet. The first thing I’d do would be to paint before you the very ugly picture of the slave you have become, then afterwards I could go on to give your man the rough tackles he deserves.

Of course, the first thing would be to take you out of there; there’s no point condemning you if I can’t give any practical solution to your problem because talk is cheap. You should, the very first time he laid a paw on you to hurt you (paw because beating a woman makes a beast of a man, except in serious self-defence), have gone to report to your family first, and then to his (I’m being very careful about his family because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree). After that time, be creative with your quarrels such that, the next time there’s one, you have a standby weapon with which to deal him a fatal (but not mortal) blow. Make it fatal so that you have enough time to escape while he’s still weak, but you can’t afford to make it mortal because no one pays for his crimes when he’s dead. If you must make him suffer, let him be alive so that the lessons will endure and you will feel good after leaving the house if you have to. Besides, there’s still chance to reconcile as long as he’s alive; you don’t want to lose that chance, do you?

Whoa, I just said that you may have to leave his house! My dear, if you were truly one flesh with him and he saw you that way, then he’d never do to you what he wouldn’t do to himself. He should love you as he loves himself—save that he’ll not die for you. Oh, what were you expecting? That your man should be able to give his life for you? No way! If he did that, you would get married to someone else sooner or later and all his heroic martyrdom would be but a memory, probably a milestone in your history. For goodness’ sake, let him save his life instead.

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Jeez! I just spent all this time telling you women how to deal with a violent man? You see, gone are the days when we would say, ‘She stoops to conquer’. That was in the era when women had no rights and were simply baby-making machines bought at a bride price and deployed towards bearing and rearing children to continue the family name. Not anymore. In our world today women are prominent in different fields of endeavour. You cannot talk pop without the mention of Whitney Houston or TV talk show without Oprah Winfrey. Here in Nigeria, economic decisions are more or less influenced under the current dispensation by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. So let’s not pretend that the world is still the way it was. No, things have changed and we must acknowledge the fact. Pretence is only fine when backed up with a sense of integrity and it can stand the test of reality.

By special providence I happen to have a lot of female friends, far more than male (and that doesn’t make me a ladies’ man). All of these ladies are intelligent to the core, but sometimes a few of them just get so gullible and you’d think they were under some hypnotic spell when you see them obsequious enough to eat ‘shit’ (sorry to say). I hate it, but I also don’t like it when people become toothless bulldogs. I’ve heard so many people say, ‘You can’t stand it when I’m angry’, and my response is always, ‘Are you the only one who knows how to get angry?’ Such people are so petulant, pugnacious and prone to throwing up temper tantrums, making much ado over nothing because they really can do nothing. These two groups of people are among the weakest and stupidest beings on the surface of the earth.

You must learn to manage your emotions. Be slow to speak and act but quick to learn. Pretence is about having information and using it when necessary to your advantage. You use it to either reveal or conceal something, depending on the demands of the situation. Silence is golden when the silent one has an advantage he’s waiting to unleash at the right time—and he must actively make that time happen, else he would have successfully crossed the line from pretence to foolishness.

I usually tell people that whenever they see me angry or speaking strongly to someone, it does not always mean that I’m really angry and letting words just fall from my mouth. Sometimes, I say things for effect even if I don’t mean them exactly the way I said them, and even the person will have to acknowledge later that I made sense. There are insults I don’t reply because I have a nobler objective in mind. At other times I could leave a stern warning or do something totally uncalled-for (what the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria would describe as replying a toothpick with a javelin) and it will only be an act of deterrence, not anger.

Here’s my point: you don’t have to wait to be angry before you react. More than that, learn to …

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