“You are chattering with your fingers! Are you trying to keep down a secret?” Manyar remarked with a frown. Henna, her childhood friend stopped plucking at the lint on her trouser and shifted weight in the cane chair. She struggled to rearrange the grimace on her beautiful face, “I have bad news and it hurts!” Manyar was dismissive, “It is not the news as much as repressing it that is eating you up. Come on, out with it! Tell me what happened.” Just the bow of betrayal had begun to emerge from the fog of anguish in the room. “I swore to my friend it would remain between us. You know how gossipy people can be!” Henna mewled. “Yes, but we are not being malicious, it is just sharing so as to feel lighter.”
The two women sat in respectful dilemma, unable to break away from the spell of a secret. They were like sailors, marooned on a desert island, their throats parched for succour but staring at a mashk that did not belong to them. Their eyes met! “Alright, just between you and me. Not a word to anyone else,” Henna entreated. Manyar was beside herself with curiosity, “What could the matter be?” She leaned forward unconsciously, trying hard to sit still just in case her friend changed her mind about sharing the titbit. She waited while Henna exhaled deeply around the waves of guilt assailing her at the impending treachery. She leaned back, an arm over her eyes.
“Listen girl, gulping down a secret requires constant effort, it will cause you unnecessary tension, in fact it might wear your body down. Have you heard of how people come down with common cold just because they are sitting on a piece of news they have been forbidden to share. The more you try squashing it down, the more it expands, takes too much mental space Henna. You want to be careful there.”
“Alright then, make a pinky promise to me. I have only shared itwith my mother so far!” responded Hennna.
“What? You mean you have already broken your promise?” Manyar was incredulous.
“Oh come on, telling my Mum does not count. She can be very tight lipped about my affairs; she does not give out much to any outsider. Yes, she is close to her siblings but that is about it.”
“That makes it four people already in the know," Manyar ran her thumb over the fingers, counting. “And if each of them is close to four other people in turn, that is a whole bunch there. Your secret is no more one!”
Henna was dismayed, “My family is default ear for all my secrets Manyar. I would come down with depression and loneliness if I did not let them in on my emotional quicksand. I get migraine if I do not confide in them. It is not about just being better than only one other person on the planet, you understand I am sure.”
“Oh absolutely! Sharing secrets teaches empathy and social skills moreover. Now tell me quickly, you were saying?!”