June 4, 2009

naked truth

i suppose, one morning, she decided not to get dressed. i suppose she drank her coffee naked, locked her front door-naked, closed the gate naked and then walked down the road, resplendently, terribly naked.

i was standing impatiently waiting for a minibus. i looked like any other stereotypical young professional man, wannabe, funky glasses, cheap suit, enthusiastic. it was later than usual. i hated to be late. i craned left, nothing in sight. then i saw her.

she walked towards me, unhurried, with high heels clicking and her handbag over one shoulder. her features came into focus, everything began to feel rather surreal. at the minibus stage she stood and faced the road, oblivious to me.

i acted as if i stood next to naked ladies every day, but out of the corner of my eye – i sneaked looks at her, up and down. there were definitely strengths, but possibly more curves than i would have wanted from a fantasy.

the minibus swung in, nearly running over my toes and shocking me back to clothed normality. it was half full, i got in first and took a seat towards the back. she followed. apparently the driver hadn’t noticed, he pulled out as he did every morning, at every stop.

from where i sat i had a good view of her profile, and the ripples of astonishment that were running through the minibus. soon everyone was gaping.

a chitenje was passed forward. the girl nodded her thanks and left it on her lap. it had come from an old lady at the back; obviously horrified, loudly complaining, and spitting disgust… probably the type of woman who hates the new fashions, where young girls bare too much flesh, perhaps she considered complete nakedness only a little worse. some things were supposed to be covered up.

unfortunately sitting on her left i saw a teenager, openly staring. he reached across and stroked one breast. when she didn’t react he grabbed it more forcefully, with a smug smile. the teenager spoke over his shoulder to me, ‘see she likes it’, as if to justify this outrageous behaviour. she shrugged him off.

the conductor took her money along with everyone else’s. he didn’t care, passengers were passengers, and as long as they paid he wasn’t fussy. in fact he thought this one might be mentally ill, but he’d had really sick people on board and made sure they paid in full. his lecherous looks were more inclined towards a small little girl towards the front, whose mysterious unseen breasts might fit perfectly in his palm, who might surprise him with even lighter skin somewhere.

the minibus slowed to pick up more people. an elderly man on her right was looking out of the window but as he turned to face front his eye was drawn to womanly hands on smooth thighs. he looked at them intensely for a while and then moved upwards across a nicely curving stomach, a nicely curving bosom and her neutral face. maybe he was so old he couldn’t remember the last time he saw a naked woman. now he was looking in front smiling, perhaps with fond memories on his mind.

i took it all in; her sensitive eyes, her bare shoulders, her loose arms. her body told the story of her 27 years; her father’s nose, her excesses in her curves, her hygiene habits, her pain in her scars.

i felt my watch buckle dig in to my wrist, my shoulder pads felt heavy, my shirt too tight, my socks too small.

she seemed noble, sitting there as if nothing was amiss, unperturbed amongst these shocked gaping people… unconscious of their reactions, unashamed of her secrets.

if i show you everything, will you be scared and disgusted, or will you love the truth?


  1. That was a fantastic read!! Left me a little mystified.. trying to work out why she was naked... But I guess that was not the point.
    Cant wait to read more.

  2. reuben mackriell06 June, 2009 12:51

    Lol! it's funny but has alot of truth. but sometimes revealing too much can put us into harms way, only very few people can handle, solid truth. I think it's best to choose those people wisely.

  3. Captivating.

    An interesting concept of "excessive truth -telling" lends itself seamlessly to the question raised in this piece. Over communication has been analysed in a study that analysed the concept of “truth-telling" in an experimental setting**. Over communication is explained as stemming from the inherent tension between normative social behaviour (what society expects us to do i.e. tell the truth in this case) and incentives for "lying" (here-defined as withholding the truth and/or maintaining a mysterious stance). In a situation where truth-telling is rewarded and lying punished, there is every dis/incentive to bare all. "Excessive truth-telling is observed when individuals tell the truth even in the absence of these dis/incentives. This is explained by the fact that there is a group of people who simply have a preference for telling the truth - incentives or no incentives.

    For the party at the receiving end of the truth, there's the option to use the dis/incentives as a response to steer behaviour towards a preferred direction of comfort. We teach people how to treat us afteral. Whether one is a truth-teller by preference or strategy, reward and punishment will quickly define the bounds of the comfortable playing field - the territory of operation in other words.

    The challenge for truth-tellers and liars alike is to get the boundaries defined right at the start so as not to go down the path of "excessive" truth telling - realising that every individual we deal with has disparate preferences of course. Whether or not and how much the party at the receiving is scared, disgusted or loves the truth will thus become clearer without being left to think the truth was imposed, excessive or over communicated. Whereas speech may be silver afteral, silence may be golden – More often than not and within reasonable bounds of assumptions, we get in trouble for opening our mouths rather than for keeping them shut, so it remains an option for observing the this line.

    **Sanchez-Pages and Vorsatz, 2007. "Games and economic behaviour" Pp 86-112.

  4. Thank u, i was w8n on dz, u already know how i feel about this piece.

  5. i so enjoyed reading that. really, really good.

  6. on further thought.. there is a lot of honesty in nakedness. Maybe the world would be a better place if we were all naked?!

  7. Is holding back a little akin to not telling the truth?

  8. Very good Jess! I dont know what to make of the philosophical vibe or the symbolism, though - all in all, very intriguing; will keep me thinking and re-thinking.

  9. Mwai Kasamale07 June, 2009 18:22

    Interesting analogy. What would be interesting to look into is how 'the truth' can be something an individual is scared of, ashamed to admit to, offended or motivated by.

  10. Mfana Waku Malawi07 June, 2009 18:29

    Had me thinking, can I handle the truth?

  11. by Henry Nouwen:

    … we are encouraged to explore our communicative capacities and experiment with many forms of physical, mental and emotional contact, we are sometimes tempted to believe that our feelings of loneliness and sadness are only a sign of lack of mutual openness.

    Sometimes this is true and many sensitivity centers make invaluable contributions to the broadening of the range of human interactions. But real openness to each other also means a real closeness, because only he who can hold a secret can safely share his knowledge.

    When we do not protect with great care our own inner mystery, we will never be able to form community. It is this inner mystery that attracts us to each other and allows us to establish friendship and develop lasting relationships of love.

    An intimate relationship between people not only asks for mutual openness, but also for mutual respectful protection of each other’s uniqueness.

  12. I really liked the way you wrote it coz at first I was lyk what is she writing about and the last sentence says it all....really good work!

  13. The golden hash sun blazing, the hot desert sands seething. Strange sounds that do not echo in this vastness that is the kalahari desert.

    There, can you see him? Can you see her? Can you see them? The san people. The bushmen of the hotness. Wizened butts exposed to the winds, perky breasts basking in the sun. Glorious in uncovered majesty.

    There are no leering ogling eyes here. No unbecoming erections responding to the sight of a nubile thigh. Just being.

    Amazing how dress and nakedness and their social-cultural-religious implications are so subjectively contextual. They are contextual to a people, to a time, to a culture.

    So indeed in the minibus, she may have been the most glorious being. covered with natural splendour of unpretentiousness and yet in the eyes of those socially conditioned to cover the shrivelled gonads and secretly lust over glimpses of flesh she was a lunatic.

    Selah think on that!

  14. Steveria Charity K10 June, 2009 22:12

    Nice one!


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