Be a Man, Don’t Cry

Arushi Mitra

Don’t address death and sorrow in public, son. It’s taboo. You say you lost your father several years ago and you miss him at this very moment – suddenly – without an evident reason? Absurd. Do not bring it up and introduce this bright, sunny day to those dark clouds brewing in your mind. You would not want to be that boy for the rest of your life, would you?

You would not want to be the reason why your uncle widens his eyes in horror – afraid to address the obvious concern – as his children look away to hide their smirks as you look down at your leather watch, twisting the frayed edges so as to not allow the swelling tears to meet the eyes in the room.

“He brought what up?” Your aunty will ask with her usual smug look when your uncle mentions your moment of weakness as soon as he gets home. His children – your cousins –  laughing and providing the juicy details which will serve as dinner conversation for the next two days.

“How weak for a boy to cry like that,” they will all agree.

You would not want to be the reason why your friends stiffen up upon your entrance to the room as they glance at each other and recall in their minds the memory from two weeks ago when you broke down. It was only the memory of him calling you “baba” that was rekindled in your mind after one’s father did the same, but you rang the blues. Weak. The pain was supposedly too great to hold back in, but how did you expect them to respond? Did you suppose they would cry with you, feel a pain only you felt, and reassure you everything would be all right? Has hearing that ever been beneficial?

“And there you have it, folks,” you reply with your usual, unsure laugh, hoping to lighten the mood, but son, both you and I know that would not change the atmosphere. Both you and I know that those tears were the first you shed after years of allowing the pain to build up until they accumulated a physical weight of their own on your already weak shoulders. Both you and I know that pain you felt in your heart, hoping to hear his voice once again calling out to you in his usual teasing tone was more than one you could carry but child, why did you pick that moment to let those emotions out by dissolving in tears – weeping in front of an audience? Could you not wait until you got home–thus saving us all from the uncomfortable exchange of sad nods and confused shrugs? You’re a man, so don’t you think it is about time you start acting like one?

I know you wish you could always choke back the tears and hide that ache which scratches at your ribs to break out and reveal itself to the world, and if everything was perfect, you would have done so. The self-deprecating jokes and dismissal of all ties emotional could have been your way to cope–the healthy way – as your society often suggests. You could have internally contemplated running away somewhere unknown while outwardly expressing only your best, most jovial self, but you always allowed it to slip. Was that not selfish on your part? Taking away others’ minutes of happiness because of your years of pain?

Now you sit here and ask yourself why the man in the sky chose you for his cruel experiments, but you don’t dare ask too many questions because the last thing you need is to be convicted for expressing any doubt in the almighty – that is what the book says. You shut your door and kneel and pray for an escape, hoping your words aren’t disappearing into thin air, but how can you know if anyone is listening? You feel the cold drop of water land on your hand and attempt to open your eyes which have put on a few pounds in the last 20 minutes. You feel your eyes burning as the sweat from your forehead crawls down and seeps in, posing as the better alternative to the pain in your throbbing heart. You allow yourself to doze off. It’s just another night.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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