Essays

On keeping a secret

“I thought about how there are two types of secrets: the kind you want to keep in, and the kind you don’t dare to let out.”

-Ally Carter, Don’t judge a girl by her cover

In laypeople’s terms, a secret is something that is hidden and is intentionally kept so by the one to whom it belongs. It is something too personal to be shared with the world or uploaded on Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp or Instagram. Metaphorically, it is no exaggeration to assert that a secret is a suspense story, a thriller movie or an enthralling book. It can be a cause of excruciating pain or eternal bliss. It might be a tragedy or a comedy of errors; malicious pleasure or guilt pangs. It differs from person to person and from situation to situation. Usually, it remains a mystery that could beget horrors if unfolded.

The world of secrets is the most enigmatic world indeed. The best thing about a secret is not what it hides; it is all about how it is hidden (and for how long). Every secret seems nail-bitingly interesting to me because it has a backdrop. It has got a million characters- the one around whom the secret revolves, the others who form a vital part of the secret, few others who know and treasure the secret, some others who ‘accidentally’ let out the secret, the ones from whom the secret is kept and the last, the ones who should not have known the secret.

Firstly, let us consider the exact meaning of keeping a secret. It is a lot beyond being someone’s confidant/e. It comprises not only hearing but also listening, understanding, absorption and retention. Keeping secrets is not everyone’s cup of tea. I go a step ahead and assertcontend that keeping secrets is no less than an art. One requires skills and immense self-control to retain a secret. When someone confides in us, it portrays the level of trust that they have in us. There are some who are a great company but cannot be trusted with deep secrets. At times, keeping a secret is equivalent to a challenge because there is no dearth of people around who try to lure you into letting you spill the beans in one way or the other.

Who are the ones generally trusted with secrets? Considering young adults like you and me, it is a best friend who enjoys the privilege. Teens prefer sharing their secret stuff with those best friends whom they could trust with their life. The consequent preference is their boyfriend or girlfriend. However, I’ve often observed an appalling trend among teens today. Some teens are so depressed that they would rather share their pain with an online stranger than someone who is near them. The psychology behind this is quite simple- the fear that a dear one would despise them after knowing it. That risk does not persist with a virtual friend. Many such online ‘friends’ tend to expose the secrets so extracted via social media and it is too late to mend by then. However, the bitter fact is that there are only a handful of us who would share secrets with our parents. Nevertheless, the labyrinth of misunderstandings remains as it is; the reason being that we see parents only as funders and feeders but never as friends. It is a sad reality that we drift apart from our parents while we embrace everybody else in the world.

I personally feel that the best thing to confide in is a dear diary. A diary can be trusted. It won’t reveal what it hides without the owner’s consent. It listens to all that you write and never complains of boredom. It’ll never get annoyed of your woes and never scold you for anything that you do. It will always be your confidant- at least till it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

On a cautious note, let us see the ones to beware of- the ones who should never be bequeathed a secret. These constitute a long list- the liars, the gossipmongers, the backstabbers and the rumour lovers. Once your secret reaches any of these, it will no longer remain a secret. It shall be converted to a public notice. I’m unable to resist the temptation of quoting this anecdote from the Harry Potter series that is so apt here. (Apologies for the spoiler alert) Lily and James Potter were the supposed next target of Voldemort, the darkest sorcerer in wizarding history. In order to save their life and that of infant Harry, they counted on the Fidelius charm. Under its influence, nobody including Voldemort could trace their location unless their secret-keeper let it out. They selected James’s friend named Peter Pettigrew as their secret keeper but Voldemort easily lured Peter to his side. The rest is history. Lily and James were murdered while Harry survived. Trusting the wrong person with their biggest secret cost them their life. Studies have shown that sharing a secret remarkably lowers depression levels. But it is imperative to choose the confidant with care; otherwise breaching of trust by revelation of the secret could aggravate depression.

If someone trusts you with a secret, you ought to be very special to that person. It is as though you are bestowed with the honour of being someone’s secret keeper. One thing we all must learn in life is to be trustworthy and to keep secrets diligently. We must remember that what goes around comes around. If we keep secrets well, our secrets shall also be kept well. Often, the world seems to be a gloomy place- we can make it better by being a person worthy enough of confiding in. Dear readers, let us all take a resolution today- to be a patient, trustworthy and good secret keeper. After all, we’re here to make each other feel better, aren’t we? 🙂

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