A man, a drink, a tear

Osanya Collins

That men don’t cry is a lie. An unclean lie, the sort that washes its face, and armpits instead of taking a shower. A shy lie, the sort that rises from a mound of faeces smelling of loaned roses and bragging about its phenomenal existence because men cry. 
The tears well up then slide down to that bag in their hearts where it gets vitrified.  Hehe, vitrified is a fancy word I borrowed. And then time takes over. The tears, the bottled pain of times past, become glass. Shrapnel of sorts. Blade sharp. And as they seek more space, a way out, they pierce the heart. And the bleeding commences. And the man begins to break.

Some survive. Some nurse the ache, throughout their lives. Such men know they are hurt. They are bleeding. They are breaking. They drink alone in noisy pubs. Eat alone. Smile broadly. Laugh loudly rarely speaking of themselves in an emotional way. They adopt a cold poise. A muted meanness becomes their armour against the sisters of the pain that bites them from time to time. And during cold nights, when there’s a solitary star in the sky, which whispers; ‘I know your secret, I know what you are doing. I know what ails you,’ they light a cigarette and curse at the world. So mad, they blame themselves, sometimes someone else. And when they want to cry, to let all that pain go, nothing comes out.

Other’s don’t know they are bleeding. Or hurting. They walk around like zombies, at times like louts. Ramming into bad fortune after bad fortune. They put on suits of mistakes, ties of pretence and look themselves in the mirror convincing themselves that they love what they see. Later in the day, when the sun is down and they’ve made no hay, they crawl back to their crevices, disrobe and hate what they’ve become. Morning comes and their mourning goes.

It must have been September. A Friday evening. A drinking evening. After enduring the beatings of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Friday hugs you. Wipes your tears, and like a big, protective older sister, gives you a sweet and tells you to keep quiet. That you are a good child and that kina Monday and Tuesday are bad people. Cut to the chase, a friend, a young man, was buying drinks that evening. (I don’t warm up to free booze by the way. I’m told the people I’m named after have and had an alcohol problem).

Four pm. The pub was empty. Save for two twenty-seven looking ladies who have battled with intoxication and won- I’ve never seen any of them drunk. Oh, they were seeping Kenya Cane. Does Kenya Cane have a slogan? Say, something like, moto kama pasi or inachoma paka dhambi? I don’t know. The Rasta man DJ was good that evening. He kept ‘putting’ rhumba songs after rhumba songs meaning we kept knocking down bottles after bottles. And the stiffness, distilled by alcohol, translated into a loose tongue. And when the DJ changed the tack from Azoni by Franco to Fatimata by Sam Mangwana, I let out a tear. Hehe! Hold up! I didn’t cry. I mentioned in passing, an occurrence, a text from a lady friend- who by the way-writes as beautifully as she kisses. It read; I have no time for you and your daddy issues. What I did is a story for my dimpled daughter.

Then seven descended and darkness crawled into the pub like a street urchin angling for a carelessly placed handbag. The music got louder. The beer too much, and my friend, let out a tear. His words were; ‘imagine my mother cheats on my father! After everything he did for her… na babangu anashika panga anakimbiza mama, and I’m a kid, mimi ni mtoto najaribu ku separate wazazi wangu… I’ve been a victim of domestic violence Osanya. ’

Mandela, the boxing- alleged Casanova president wrote; ‘though my mother is the centre of my world, I define myself through my father. There are men who might never heal because they saw dad beat up mom or vice versa. And it’s okay to cry.

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