Men don’t break, they merely bend. Life doesn’t happen to them, they happen to life. At least that’s what we’re taught. It’s how we’ve been raised. But, sometimes life does happen to men. We’re human after all. So how is a man to cope? A man who’s been taught not to break. A man who’s been taught that no matter what, he should suck it in and deal with it. In this world full of bills, inflation and crushed dreams. Of peer pressure, rising expectations and declining morals. In this cold and cruel world that we were shielded from in our youth.
Our fathers would provide, but we would never see the price of their provision. All they would urge us to do is study hard. Ok, urge is a polite term. Threaten is more like it. Trust me, I know. BODMAS was beaten into me.
And so we pursued education expecting jobs. But we didn’t know that jobs meant taxes. We matured and pursued women with so much fervour, not knowing women meant dowry, babies and misunderstanding because they say they’re from Venus. We pursued wealth not knowing these came with needy eyes and palms outstretched by society’s less fortunate, some more closer home than expected. We pursued babies to carry our name thinking we just had to provide physically, but now our progeny are acting out because of lack of emotional provision. We pursued status not realising that this came with societal expectations and nubile girls who laughed at our jokes even thought they were dryer than bones.
Aki you’re so funny. Si you buy me credit so that I can call you and hear more of your jokes?
And in the midst of these pursuits and their unfulfilling end, there are boys pretending to be men. Thumping their chests and hardening their eyes that not a tear shall wet them. Fear does not show on their face, or leave their pores. Defeat is not admitted. They don’t ask for directions. Because, if you’re religious, men were created first and so already know the earth. Directions are for the lost. And men don’t get lost, they just find an alternative route to get to where they want to go. But they hurt, deep down.
They hurt when they can’t pay the bills. When their little kid looks at them to save the world and yet they can barely save themselves. When they lose their spouse to a rogue matatu driver and now they have to be both father and mother. They hurt when their fathers are taken away from this earth and everyone expects them to take over the family leadership like a manual was left behind to guide him.When they endure emotional abuse from the one’s they love and have to suck it in and keep the thoughts of chopping off someone’s head at bay. They hurt. But they can’t show it. They shouldn’t. Men don’t break.
So what do they do? For some physical violence works just fine. A good old fashioned fist fight to declare how much of a man you are. Sometimes meted on the meeker sex or worse, on children. You see it on the news once in a while. Man slashes wife and children, burns down house. For others, sexual escapades. The feeling of conquest and ultimate release are enough to take away the pain. At least for a time. Until the next escapade.
Some men talk and share their feelings. Ok, that’s about three men in the whole world. I don’t know them, so they’re probably talking to each other. Some seek solace in alcoholic drink and substances of the narcotic persuasion. The problem with alcohol is that it doesn’t know it’s boundaries. It attempts to heal all diseases. It’s like those daktari wa tanga types. It even attempts to heal self esteem and heart break. It will make you think you’re Papa Shirandula looking ass is Idris Elba. It will make you call your ex and declare your love for her. That if only she can part her thighs you can show how much. Most likely she will fail to be swayed by your inebriated proclamation and when that happens, bar maid will do just fine.
Then they’re those men who just call it quits. Life is hard. Solve the problem. End life. It’s a known fact that men are more likely to commit suicide than women. Every time I hear of such cases, I always wonder. Was there no whiskey good enough? No thighs willing enough to part? No sport sweaty enough? No jaw worth introducing to a fist? Was there no shoulder to lean on? No ample bossom to lay one’s head in? No ear to hear this broken man?
I’ve got a support group. A band of brothers. No. We don’t sit in a circle with tissue paper and tell sob stories. We don’t sing kumbaya and hug either. We call each other up when we need to bounce some thought off someone. Or we speak of our bad decisions over a drink or talk about the fact that we don’t know where the next month’s rent or school fees will come from. Or laugh about how our significant others must be mad as devils that we’ve not fixed the door handle as promised. It’s not perfect, but it works. Granted, we won’t always come forward with whatever challenge we’re facing but it helps when someone else speaks of a problem and you think to yourself, ‘Damn. So it’s not just my wife that’s crazy?’ Then you remember what the chief told you,
All women are crazy, just choose the craziness that works for you and keep her happy.
This world is crazy too and not as easy as it was in the times of our fathers. But we need to be stronger and remain men. We must know ourselves. Know our outlets and use them. The healthier the better. Let’s be strong. For each other and ourselves. And more importantly, for those around us.