The popular belief is that you should “Never wash your dirty linen in public.” Now, the linen in this saying is not literally linen. The idea is, if your linen is torn, or show anything that may give indications of your economic or social status, you should not wash and hang it where anyone else, who is not you or your relative(s), can see them. However, the linen in the saying is metaphorical. Like the idea, the linen in the statement is meant to indicate anything that may suggest what goes on in your household (and this can include economic and social) that shows that you live a below any human standards – morality included – should be kept away from public view. So, linen is not meant for public viewing, either as an idea, or a metaphor. Why? It shows you in bad light when others outside your household see your (can I use quotation marks?) ‘dirty’ linen. So, what do I make of seeing a towel marked ‘I love my Luo/Binta’ in the bathroom of a squash complex? No, there was no one else in the bathroom and yes, it had been forgotten.
Two ideas come to mind: one, Luo or Binta does not think highly of a piece of linen that metaphorically speak of their love for each other; two, if the person who forgot the piece of linen in the bathroom is neither Luo nor Binta, then the person also does not think very highly of a piece of linen that symbolizes the idea of Luo and Binta being together.
This brings me to the idea of not washing your dirty linen in public. First, the ‘wash’ in the saying assumes a metaphorical connotation. ‘Wash’ here means expose/display or, as in this case, leave in public for others who should not see the linen seeing it. So, whoever has exposed/displayed/left the object of Luo and Binta’s love in a public squash bathroom has ‘washed’ the idea that something is not right with Luo and Binta. I assume another symbolism here, Luo is a nomadic tribe from Kenya, Bint is a surrogate name for a beautiful woman (albeit with philistine implications). My symbolism is: if you give the love of a beautiful woman to a nomad it would end up in places, although appropriate as in towel/bathroom, where it was not meant to be.
Such items should carry a return address or phone number – what happened to ‘RSVP’ in this situation? Now, imagine if there was a phone number on the towel, and I had called it?
“Hello, is that Binta?” “No, this is Luo,” a man’s voice responds. Now, I believe, it being a man’s voice, he must have left the linen in the bathroom in a squash complex.
“Well Luo, I am calling regarding the towel you left in the bathroom in the squash complex.”
“What towel? How did you know it is mine?”
“Well, Luo, your name and Binta’s are on it, as well as this telephone number that I am calling you on.”
“I beg your pardon, Luo?”
“Sorry, did you say you found it in a bathroom? Male or female?”
“Er, Luo, I am a man, so obviously it was left in a male bathroom…” and it suddenly dawns on me Luo did not wash the linen in public. Eish!
Copyright © Fani-Kayode Omoregie 2010