Tears are a sign of weakness. They said men do not cry. Only women, who are the ‘weaker sex’ are supposed to cry and wail at every difficulty encountered.
They are to stay strong and not shed a tear. Who made those rules? Who set the standards?
For men do cry. I have seen the strongest of men cry in movies, in books, in reality! Even my father cries sometimes; like that time my grandmother died. The night he got the news, I woke up to use the toilet and heard someone sobbing in the living room. Could it be a ghost? I thought. For a moment I was scared to enter the parlor, but I was also told that fear was a sign of weakness, a seat reserved only for women. I wanted to prove to myself that I am a ‘rare’ woman who is not chicken hearted but strong enough to check the living room and find out who was sobbing in her father’s domain.
I had tiptoed into the parlor and there was my beloved father tears streaming down his face, crying like a widow. Though he had wiped his eyes immediately he noticed me. I knew men cried.
The man sitting beside me in the public vehicle had a strange smell. He smelt of a mixture of cigarettes and body Heat. His five children between ages 4-10 occupied the rest of the seat. He had paid for three seats and I, one. It was on one of those days I did not have enough money for transport to my destination, so I opted for a cheaper and more affordable bus. His children chatted away among themselves. The man was carrying the youngest on his lap while the other four ‘lapped’ themselves. Every minute he sighed, shook his head. I knew he was far, quiet far, totally oblivious of his surroundings.
Minutes later, he wiped his eyes. I looked at his hand and it was wet with tears. At that moment, I wondered what was strong enough to make a grown man shed tears. Soon enough the bus got filled up.
‘Driver, don’t forget to put all my bags ooo ‘, the man beside me said. From his voice, I can feel the grief and pains.
‘No worry, I no go forget am’, the driver replied.
Not quite long after, the driver was done with loading the passengers’ bags. The journey from Enugu to Abakaliki commenced. Time and again, I couldn’t resist stealing glances at the man and his children. The children were happy. From their chattering, I realized that they haven’t been to the village for a year or two.
While they were happy, their father wore a picture of sadness and uncertainty. As the journey commenced, I could not hold it back.
‘Kedu ihe merenu?, I asked the man.
He looked at me shook his head and sighed. I could sense it, how he was battling within himself whether to pour his heart out to a stranger or not. I smiled, to encourage him to talk to me.
He told me his story. Clement is his name. He graduated from the University with a degree in Engineering. He worked in a construction company in Enugu. He narrated how he fell in love with a very beautiful woman, the mother of his children. According to him, it was love at first sight. She worked in an insurance company. She was a very beautiful woman, the kind of woman every man dreams to have. He was lucky, she choose him. She loved him (or so he thought). Soon after their hearts spoke to each other, they got engaged. Thereafter they got married. God blessed them with children. What else could he ask for? He was lucky, he was happy. He loved his wife.
But there is one thing about life. It does not just let you be. It offers you roses with its thorns. It gives you flesh with bones. It gives you both pain and joy. You cannot separate one from the other. You have to get the full package.
Things turned around when the wife gave birth to the last child. He lost his job. That was the beginning of his woes. At first, his wife was very understanding. She went back to her job after weaning the baby. Every responsibility in the family was practically on her. While the husband searched for job for six months, she fed the family and provided for the children’s other needs (including school fees, uniform and books).
However, things changed after he could not find a job for ten months. The wife started keeping late nights and when he complained. She reminded him of who the ‘man’ of the house was and who was just a mere ceremonial head. He could not do anything. He could not caution his wife because he lost his voice the day she started providing for the family.
Things got from bad to worse and soon after the wife told him that the marriages was not working. Though, seeing the turn of events, he had prepared his mind for something like that, he just did not see it coming. It broke him. He was shattered. She left him. He was depressed. Many times he had deliberated on taking his life but… What would happen to his children?
He is picking his life from pieces. According to him, he was taking his children to stay with their grandparents at the village for awhile. This will enable him put his life back together. One of his friends has been helping him search for a job and things are turning up.
After his story, words failed me. I opened my mouth to speak but shut it after some awkward moments. I did not know what to say nor did I know the right words to use. His story was enough to make anyone, man or woman break down in tears. I dropped a few words of advice for him when I found my voice. Maybe it helped, maybe it did not.
But I’m sure he will be fine and back in track. Men too shed tears every moans then. Just because you haven’t seen one shedding tears does not mean you are weak.
Men cry, they are human. Their hearts are not made of stone. Though it’s not made of glass, it breaks. It’s not made of bricks, yet it cracks.
They cry. They sob. They wail.
Like women, they have feelings that can be hurt and emotions that need to be let out. Once in awhile, life messes them up and they should be allowed to cry, wail and move on. Whenever you see them cry, don’t tag them weak. We are humans first, before we were assigned genders!