Writing as a wife

29 April 2018

Can one write a biography about one’s significant other?  The journalistic answer would be no, since one is obviously too biased and personally involved.

On the other hand many, including myself, would love to read what the spouse of someone who happens to be in the public spotlight would have to say about their intimate life. If Melania would write her book about Donald Trump I assume every person in the world would want to read it. I would personally give a dear thing to be told the intimate stories of the likes of Bill Gates, Vladimir Putin or Cyril Ramaphosa (no, not Jacob Zuma.)

But in most cases such books would be written by former, or disgruntled and estranged, spouses.  When I googled ‘spouses writing about one another’ the first thing that came up was a tell-all memoir from a Hollywood actress about her awful, cheating ex.

A book about a man you still share your life with, and love, would be at great risk of being utterly boring – at least if one would want to continue to live with him more or less peacefully. Publishing any juicy detail could lead to acrimony.  Indeed, as we are conceptualising this book, helpful friends are already offering contact details for divorce attorneys. 

Nevertheless I am going ahead, confident that there are enough personal details that can be mentioned without causing disaster. The confidence comes from the fact that we have gone through all that happened – the last days of exile, finding one’s feet in a new country, hope and disillusionment, then smear campaigns, loss of a job, and criminal charges- together. From that togetherness I have concluded, and hope fervently, that our experiences can be reflected, through me, in togetherness as well.

It must be said that my typing away in our household, just meters away from where my subject is having tea or rummaging through papers, is witnessed with some alarm. We are having many discussions and I am often reminded of the conversation we had in Lusaka many years ago:

I never kept a secret in my life.

Oh. Thanks for telling me.

So here it goes.

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