Shhhh! don't tell a soul, but listen
‘Can't keep anything in
his tummy' is a Bangalee adage that has none whatsoever bearing
with one of our more common recurring ailments, the loose tummy.
It pretty much refers to our inherited ineptitude inability
to keep to ourselves what we hear about others. That does not
necessarily mean we eat our words.
There is also the maxim
that the stomach is erupting. Our increasingly popular status
symbol -- the midriff pouch -- is not related to the storing
of what we know of others, but frankly speaking, oops! For how
long can you hold something in your tummy?
We should have had longer
ears, (No! Mr. Spock was not a Bangalee) something like a tentacle
that could intrude between any number of people to listen to
whatsoever they were whispering about. The reason our ears remained
short was because the contraption was not required, and in nature
nothing unnecessary survives. Look at some of our political
Jewellers would have been
happy as people would have a longer terrain to prick on earrings.
But then jewellers have no regrets because people have discovered
the most unlikely of places to prick on trinkets.
Even with short ears, it
was never too long before someone who had heard something came
to tell you what he had heard or thought he heard with of course
the perennial warning, 'please don't tell anyone'. But your
best friend or your husband or your wife, as the case maybe,
is not just 'anyone'. Nor are your parents, and your brothers
and sisters and your uncles and aunties and your scores of cousins
and nephews and nieces and friends and their friends and even
the man who you met at the local shop. So, spill the beans but
make sure they do not tell anyone else.
No wonder then that we used
to hear of military putsches even before the plot had begun
to unfold. Little wonder also that our politicians see a conspiracy
in anything done by the opposing party. For all you know, they
have been surreptitiously let into the secret. And thereby came
to be born the phrase, open secret.
Nothing marvellous either
about the bazaar knowing for ages exactly when to and by how
much to inflate the price before the finance minister makes
his budget speech, concealed in his red old attaché case
but from whom it has never been clear.
It has also been openly
suggested that the real criminals are tipped off by insiders
in the bahinis about a possible sortie on a hideout. Criminal
or no criminal, if you hear a secret you should rush out to
tell someone. Having moved out seconds before their arrival,
it is not easy even for the fast-moving combined forces to apprehend
any one of them. Everyone knows that a vehicle faster than a
telephone call is yet to be invented.
Despite our lax belly, we
are desperate to maintain the status of a secret and would do
everything to keep alive other people's interest in it. Therefore,
in addition to making sure the new recruit in the open secret
game does not tell anyone else, we go around saying, 'I will
deny if asked' or 'Tell everyone but don't mention you heard
it from me'. As a nation thriving on the exchange of secrets
we are unlucky not to have any grapevines.
Some people are so adept that if you want to spread the word,
just tell them. The reputation of some of us is so high in this
respect that they are often nicknamed Reuter, BBC, Bashosh,
Not all secrets are edible
(from Bangla 'khaay'). Some will fall flat; others will go a
long way. To test the strength of a hush-hush all you have to
do is time how long it takes for it to come back to you. The
sooner it reaches you by another source the hotter it is. Napoleon
Bonaparte (1769-1821), French General and Emperor was also aware
of its speed and is quoted as having said, 'Secrets travel fast
We have this propensity
to blame everything on someone else. The government will blame
the opposition and vice versa. The minister will hold responsible
someone lower for any mishap related to his ministry, be it
a launch accident where unknown numbers have perished, or the
accidental discovery of Taka fifty thousand in counterfeit bank
notes in khod Bangladesh Bank. In regard to secrets spreading
like wildfire, we will also blame something else like walls
having ears. Imagine how ludicrous they would look.
Despite everything, what's the nirmal anondo of knowing a secret
until the world knows that you know a secret?
Now to let you all on to some secrets being passed around:
The US forces are looking
for Saddam in the wrong places.
There are underground tunnels
connecting all the ponds in Bogra to a foreign manufacturer
Some one hundred Taka notes are also fake but none have been
But please don't tell anyone.