She sits on the couch, hugging the secret to herself. It is not someone else’s, but her own. Unlike other secrets that are corrosive and gnaw at one’s insides, this secret is like a cup of dark rich cocoa that warms the palms of her hands.
She has always believed that secrets should be kept. In fact she has always discouraged others from telling her their secrets, an act that only spurred them on. Making them whisper stories of infidelity, betrayal and greed in to her ears. She began to bloat, turning in to unwieldy repository of other people’s grief and joy, aspirations and shattered dreams. She moved slowly, unsure of herself and unhappy. She stopped answering the phone, feared the office water cooler and no longer went out. And then one day without warning she burst like a dam.
She began stopping strangers on the street and telling them about her boss’s fetish for paper cups. She told her landlord his wife was sleeping with the factotum. Her mother was informed of why her only son would never marry. Everything came pouring out. Everything but the one secret she had always kept. The one about herself.
She wonders what it is like, telling a secret to someone. Wouldn’t that cheapen it? Devalue it somehow? Take away the mystery that made it so delicious. Once you have told someone your secret, it is no longer a secret but a tawdry tale.
So she decides to say it out loud. In her empty living room. She whispers her secret softly and slowly, pausing at all the right places.
When she is done she wishes she hadn’t. The woman in the Ravi Verma print is smiling. Knowingly.