Celebrating East African Writing!

Tell… Or Not To Tell by Wendy Kasera

Once, while traveling to campus from Nairobi I sat next to a charismatic woman with whom I struck an instant rapport. She was thirty but looked twenty-two. I guess that’s why I could easily converse with her.

In our six-hour drive we shared a box of chocolate, sips of apple juice (now you know why she looked so fabulous) and significant personal confidences- you know the sort that in retrospect make you want to offer money in return for silence?

Perhaps, it was the combination of boredom, tiredness and the fact that we were two strangers who were maybe not going meet again. I was a student studying Information Sciences, and she was a doctor. I, honestly, am not fond of doctors. Hospitals scare me stiff.

But enthralled with each other’s “understanding” and feeling lighter with each unburdening, we talked through the rough dusty road, through the beautiful green Burnt Forest and in-between naps all the way to Eldoret.

Our eventual parting was intensely emotional and we pledged to see each other shortly thereafter, “but not anywhere near a hospital” I suggested.

However, after a week, I started feeling uneasy. It was almost as if, having gotten so much off my chest, I was literally physically empty. I think I actually started to miss my secrets, fears and insecurities. I had divulged so openly to a woman almost ten years older than I was. By the end of the week, the niggle in the back of my mind had become fully-fledged embarrassment and horror.

When I eventually summoned the guts to awkwardly call off our reunion, with some stupid excuse like cats, somehow I wasn’t too surprised by the relief I heard in her voice on the other end of the phone. I have always felt confession is a bit like a club- all open and out there with the ingredients quite easy to identify, but really quite messy to handle.

W e conceal aspects of ourselves that we think invite rejection, but ironically, the very act of secrecy makes us inaccessible to love. We think we are hiding our secrets, but really our secrets are hiding us. Perhaps our secrets struggle to be revealed because they know that confession can perform a miracle. It can make dark secrets bright. It can turn our mistakes or tragedies into beacons of hope for others.

Think about it: when you’re most trapped by secrecy, you do not want the advice of people who have never been touched by evil, despair or confusion. You want someone who has been where you are and made it back alive. And that was exactly why I felt immediate connection with the woman at that time.

What I had experienced was, in effect, an emotional one-night stand. Intimacy is not the same as familiarity. Time is what grows housemates into family, colleagues into friends and one- time acquaintances into your safe inner circle. Anyway, every act of genuine confession, large or small, brightens the world.

© Wendy Kasera 2009

If you would like this piece to be the Story of the Week, please vote below on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being weak, and 10 being excellent. The numbers will be tallied on Friday and the story with the highest figure shall be Crowned Story of the Week. Be sure to fill in your name and verifiable email. You can include your critique/comment after the vote.


6 comments on “Tell… Or Not To Tell by Wendy Kasera

  1. Alexander
    June 8, 2009

    Okay. Whatever. I’ll give a 10. If only to encourage. Perceptivity and precision. A good start to recommend yourself.


  2. Sheila
    June 8, 2009

    I give a 9!Love the ending….quite deep!


  3. Raymond Bett
    June 9, 2009

    I would give it a 7. Interesting piece that starts well and ends in a rather impersonal note. Okay I am quite strict so I would say that the last part tells instead of showing.
    Nice work though that keeps one scrolling all the way down.

    Kudos, for an inspiring work.


  4. Alexander
    June 10, 2009

    I agree with Raymond’s second sentence; and this is exactly what I esteem highly about the piece.


  5. ben thuku
    June 17, 2009

    very girly but i totally love it…i give it a 6…


  6. Sharifa
    June 18, 2009

    Si you should have just told us the secrets! LOL! I like the piece. You write well. But why the short story? Will you never meet again?


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