Secrets....one of the most potent ways of stopping communication that human beings have. I wonder if any other creatures on this planet have secrets? We talk of the secrets of Nature, but these are only facts that we human beings do not know, and are slowly discovering. So I suppose that is the definition of a secret....some information, or knowledge, that has not been shared by all concerned.
Secrets are generally,I find, creative of power equations between the sharers of the secret, and others. Sometimes both the parties don't want the secret to get "out"; in this case, they become accomplices..conspiring to keep the information between themselves. I have so often seen what, in Tamizh, is called "Chidambara rahasiyam" ("secret of Chidambaram"...the secret in the temple of Chidambaram is that there is NO actual idol of a god in the sanctum sanctorum, only AkAshA or space.) A Chidambara rahasiyam is a secret much like the Emperor's new clothes...everyone knows it, but no one refers to it....for example, when a man has a mistress, and everyone (except, of course, the wife) knows about it, but it is never referred to. Or the fact that a certain politician is corrupt...
But sometimes, one person needs the secret kept, and the other person acquiesces to this. This is what causes the power equation. The person who is going to keep the secret has power over the one who wants the secret kept. "Don't tell, please!" is the refrain from one, and the response is, "I won't..." with, very often, a "but only if..." rider that often comes unsaid, but is there nevertheless.
A secret can be great trouble to keep; some circumstances may make it imperative for the secret to be leaked. Sometimes, secrets are revealed through some external factors...this kind of revelation often seems to cause a lot more grief all around. Sometimes, just the temptation to show that one is "in the know" causes the pact to be broken, and the trust betrayed. When the secret is, in itself, one of betrayal or transgression, this causes an interesting situation. Is betrayal of betrayal a betrayal? Alas, it is.
Secrets can bring people together...or drive them apart. Secrets between lovers, for example, would, in my opinion, ultimately sound the death-knell of the relationship. I suppose that secrets kept from anyone is, in some measure, a betrayal of trust. Once I know that someone has kept a secret from me, I keep on wondering what other things that person has hidden from me...the trust I had is lost.
Most difficult of all are the uneasy situations where one person (or more) is forced to keep a secret, in spite of an inclination to the contrary. The need for secrecy can conflict with the need for openness...and can be a real strain.
We've all had our share of secrets that we've kept, and secrets that we've given away....I only hope that one is judged by one's good intentions, and not by one's indiscretions!