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The ‘dye’ is cast, you cannot ‘revert back’

THE month of September 2020 is on its way to the vaults of history, never to come back.  Soon, it will be October, the election month. Please, do exercise your constitutional right and vote.

In my imagined future world, I see myself penning a book with a title: “Surely, there must have been another one!”; for, I am just wondering whether all of us who meet our chosen ones, our ones and only, do not at some later time ask ourselves whether there wasn’t another one, a substitute to this.

One who trusts you that there is no other woman; one who does not believe in quarrelling with everybody; one who is not this or that. Such thoughts drew me to this piece titled: “Why it is futile to try to change a man”, which appeared in the Good Citizen on Saturday of 19 September (p. 14).

The writer, apparently addressing women spouses, pointed to the fact that some time after marriage, a spouse finds out that their other half have demeanours which were undetected during the courtship period.

Let us quote him: “Three years down the road and the cracks start showing. You first did not notice that your man has the habit of picking his nose…of peeing by the roadside or any other irritating habit, and you hate all this. You decide to take up the role of mothering him. Just forget it. He won’t change”. Why won’t they change?

The writer has the answer: “Much of their behaviour is as cast as the “dye’”. “As cast as the dye” is not correct. For “dye” is a “natural or synthetic substance used to add colour to, or change the colour, of something”. For example, if you are in your 60s and want to look a bit younger, you dye your white hair black.

What the writer had in mind was surely the phrase: “the die is cast”, meaning, a decision or course of action has been determined and cannot be changed. This expression comes from the Latin “lacta alea est”, meaning “the dice have been thrown” which was said by Julius Caesar when he crossed the (river) Rubicon and invaded Italy in 49 BC.

The writer must have suffered from the “homophones syndrome”, words that sound the same, but may have different spellings or meanings. “Dye” sounds so much like “die”. And of course, “die” has various meanings.

As a verb it means to stop living; and, as a noun, and as is appropriate in these circumstances, it means “a block of metal with a special shape that is used for moulding other pieces of metal such as coins. Given that “the die is cast” is an idiom, the writer had no business playing around with it.

I would have avoided “die” altogether and say: “Much of their behavior is cast in stone”; is permanently fixed or firmly established. However, the writer believes that there is a category of men who, on the prompting of their spouses, will agree to change but only temporarily since they tend to: “revert back to the old habits”.

Now, the verb “revert”, just like “return”, does not need the adverb “back” to get its meaning across. So the guys being written about can “go back” or “revert” to their old habits. As the saying of the sage goes, “old habits die hard”, meaning, it is hard to stop doing things that one has been doing for a long time.

The moral from this story is that as you tie the nuptials, be aware that there are things about your spouse, especially in terms of behavior, that you only get to learn later, and that it may be difficult to change these, since by then, the die is already cast.

Thinking about there being another one could be a waste of time. Just get on with the one you chose to stay with until death parts you.

lusuggakironde@gmail. com

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Author: Lusuga Kironde

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