BENEATH MY TEARS (i)
I’ve observed in agony how society expects certain people to behave in a specific manner. How this gender should not indulge in some activities, or how someone from a different culture should not take part in A, B and C. Religion teaches us that we are all equal before God. We are constantly reminded that what one human can do, then the next can do it too. But here, I as a man, I’m being judged for being me. The irony of life.I see kids and women shed tears often. Tears as a sign of sorrow, tears after winning an award. It feels so emotional, and everyone rushes towards them to give them hugs. To console their sad souls, or congratulate their proud selves. Not an unusual occurrence.
For a grown man, who’s seen five decades pass, who’s witnessed almost all the evil the universe contains, who’s sired quadruplets, and fought in major battles during my days in the army, weeping would look abnormal. Shedding a single tear would raise eyebrows. It would lead to idle and empty talks from residents of my locality. “Look at him…” “Have you seen him? He cries like people who are quarter his age…” “He weeps like a small girl…” They would say. Such conversations fill the market place You needed the latest gossip in town? Then you needed to visit our market. My people, the town’s people love talking. Such petty and unproductive topics thrilled them. The quinquagenarian, old guy, weeper, how I was identified.
My weeping is atypical. Yes, I agree. But just to some extent. I have more than once questioned my gender due to that. Society thinks that I lack some masculinity in me. Why do tears freely flow down my cheeks so easily? Even three times a day? Why am I so quick to empty my tear glands? My eyes have had too much water. It feels like I’m carrying a lake. You too are about to inquire about my persona, but first have a look at this.
Adoncia. You were too sweet for this life, just like your name. It won’t escape my mind even for a day, I recall memorably the first time I came across such a beauty. Your striking features left my eyes glued on your circular flowery dress. It was round and gorgeous, just like ballet dresses, but a little bit longer. You looked like a princess. You were so tiny back then, it felt like the dress could consume you. I wasn’t sure which language beauties like you spoke. I wasn’t a good speaker, I’ve never been, but I somehow managed to utter something. What did I say? What did I utter to you, honey? My memory has failed me on that. I can’t recall well. I know I didn’t say the cliché, ‘Hi’. You can’t initiate a conversation with a beauty with clichés. I mumbled something. I can reminisce how you timidly turned around, and your eyes interlocked with mine, the eyes of a beast, and you, in the sweetest way ever, made a curve with your lips, coming up with the most perfect and endearing smile, and revealed your cute dimples. The one on your right cheek was the deepest, and even cuter. Oh my! The angels above must have thought I had met one of their own.
The magical words I uttered to you on that extremely lucky day marked the commencement of our journey. A perfect combination we had been. You my beauty and I your beast. Adoncia, my love.
Something lovely was in the offing. A relationship ensued. You and I came together, shared our love, challenges, journeyed together, dined and held each other’s hands when the storm was violent. A perfect match we were. The best gift the almighty had granted me. Years later and I loved you more. You brought four adorable people in this world. Carrying the four babies in your womb is something I always admired in you. What a brave woman. You reminded me of my mother. She too had been brave . Though carrying only one child, me, she had that element I always wished I had. A patient and kind woman she was, generous to all. Thanks to cancer, an ailment I freak out when I hear people talk of, she is no more. Bless her wherever she is.
Five years after the birth of our sons, the devil decided to strike the home we had been building. A painful account. I can’t help but cry out loud when my mind takes me back to that fateful and dark period in my life. My life felt worth-less after the events that had followed. I turned suicidal, I couldn’t think straight, I needed to go to sleep, and sleep for good so as to forget all the happenings. I figured out death was the best. This led me to make several trips to the cemetery, just to observe the surroundings. The cemetery was quiet, calm, no noise. I loved that. The dead are a quiet lot, I noted. I envied the dead for so many days. They, seemed to be at peace. No disturbance from anyone. No sad moments, no mysteries to solve, nothing to make them think hard, they appeared to be still.
They lay lifeless from their coffins, they looked pale and numb, but at peace. I eerily wished I could be them , so I could stop with my weeping. I, a living man wished to be a corpse. Adoncia, you brought me so much glee in my rather monotonous life, but later made me wish I could spend my days in a casket. Adoncia, my beauty who turned to be a mystery.
Twelve midnight. I was insomniac. No sleep, I lay on my back in bed, facing the ceiling. I had this inexplicable and strange feeling in me. Nothing anyone can explain. Never felt that way before. My body was exhausted. I needed to sleep, but the sleep I longed so much for was not in the vicinity. Turning to my right, pretty Adoncia was deep in slumber, I grinned happily. Her presence always brought some comfort in me. I was glad she didn’t have difficulties with sleep like I was. She was probably in dreamland. Dreaming about all the the fine things charming beauties dreams of.
I got off bed and headed to my study; A small room I had created which also acted as my library. I had all manner of literary and art work stuffed in there. Just a week earlier, my beautiful Adoncia, the woman whom I loved like nothing else in this world had cleaned the dusty shelves. Too much dust had accumulated on the shelves over the years. I only added the books and magazines. I never emptied the shelves. Adoncia had once joked that I should burn some books which were more than thirty years old. I had of course read them severally, but could not bring my self to burn them. “That’s knowledge.” I had told her. “Burning of knowledge is not allowed. It’s sinful.” I went on with a stern face. I was so serious when speaking that she had to add that she was joking at the end of her statement.
I walked up and about in my study that night. Thinking of what to do. I trudged towards the window, slowly like a chameleon and observed the sky. Gleaming stars which formed patterns beautiful like my Adoncia met my eyes. Shooting stars passing after every few minutes made it even more beautiful. I was tempted to go and wake my queen, so we would watch the beautiful sky together, but opted not to. That would mean that I would have to disturb her in her sleep. I didn’t want to bother her. I dragged my feet to the table thinking of what to do. Philosophy. A subject I liked and enjoyed reading. I loved the philosophers in history. Modern or medieval. I had read widely about Socrates, Plato, Friedrich Nietzsche, Stilpo, Aristotle et al. They had had interesting views of life. I enjoyed their history. I took out one of my philosophy books and perused the pages.