The Burden of Secrets


Dear Ezra and Lian,

“Don’t tell your grandma! She will tell someone else and then the whole world will know our business.” I heard that so many times when I was a kid. It seemed like my parents didn’t want my grandma or anyone else to know anything. Sometimes it seemed like everything was a secret. In light of the real, serious secrets I would find out as an adult, it was crazy the secrets I kept about insignificant things. However, I learned, no matter what, say nothing. Everything is a private matter. Whatever happened in our home, stayed in our home.

I never want you to live with the burden of keeping secrets; especially ones I may place upon your shoulders. That is one of the big reasons, I took the very unusual step of putting my letters to you on the Internet. You never have to guess whether you are expected to keep this secret or not. If I believed it was important enough to write a letter to you about it, then I also believed it was worth sharing with others. I don’t care if you tell anybody or nobody about these letters. They either already know or can find out any time they want. You don’t have to protect me. I’m here to protect you.

The first time I went to Mizoram, I ended up spending a great deal of time with Fela. Fela was the son of the Mr. Lalkhama, Chief Secretary of Mizoram when it became a state in 1986. We became friends and I was asked and gratefully accepted editing Mr. Lalkhama’s memoirs. He led a fascinating life. He became a cabinet minister in the government of Mr. Lal Thanhawla. His stories about the Mizo insurgency and the peace accord have great lessons for all of us.

Over time, Fela told me things that will most likely never make it to print. He wasn’t the only one. Time and time again, I have had Mizo men tell me things that they can’t tell their wives, their mothers or their sisters. Yet, Fela told me more than any other. He clearly wanted a new life. He wanted redemption and forgiveness for everything he had done. He wanted a Saviour, he just couldn’t take a leap of faith into His arms.

Over time I came to find out, Fela really wanted me to me his priest or therapist. I was supposed to prescribe a penance and absolve him of his sins. Obviously, I don’t have that kind of power. This was not the beginning steps towards repentance and re-birth. No this was the last step before magically everything was forgiven. These secret confessions actually made things worse. They were not therapeutic. Fela fell deeper into alcohol and drugs and dangerous behaviour. His wife and youngest son had to leave. His father threatened me with a lawsuit and to maintain peace between the families, Mommy and I left Mizoram.

I foolishly listened to all of Fela’s stories. I have had to bear his secrets as my own. I can’t tell them, but I get to see how they ruin many lives and warp the governance of an entire state. I am virtually powerless. All I have had is the hope that someday Fela does the right thing. Until Fela is willing to risk his life and publicly testify and accept the consequences, silent I must remain.

Kids, don’t ever put yourself in this position. Never hear serious secrets without multiple witnesses. Leave it left unsaid or tell your friend to go to the proper authorities. If someone is unwilling to deal with the reality of what they have done, then don’t play along. If they are serious about starting on a path to a new life, they will gratefully ask for additional help.

Ezra, there’s one secret you are ready to hear, but the world is not. In the past, I promised you an answer to a question you had. You and I are ready to share this information with each other. You will have to carry the burden of this secret. You do not have to carry it alone. I will tell you everyone who knows the truth. I will tell you which ones are there for you to share your feelings about this. Unfortunately, you are going to have to keep it a secret for a long while.  I am ready to leave the past behind. You and I are ready to move on with our lives. This will explain why many things happened. Others want to live in a world of delusion where they lie, even to themselves. Sometimes you just have to let them. You can’t confront them with the truth. They will attack those that threaten the shaky foundations of their self-image.

Let’s take a leap of faith and move forward.



P.S. When Lian is old enough, we will have to tell her as well. That won’t be for a long time.