You know how sometimes, your day is going all right, all “routinish”, just like any other day? You wake up in the morning, grab your cup of Turkish coffee, brush your teeth, get dressed, go to class, come back home, make some plans. You know, same old. But then the most disturbing news hits you. A man your age, brother of 3, son of thousands in his village, was found in a car crash near his house. To our relief, he was very much alive. To our disturbance 20 minutes later, he died of internal bleeding. Pretty cool huh? Yeah that’s not the point. I knew the man ever since I was a kid, knew his family, knew his father in specific. His father? Let me brief you on his father. He’s what you would imagine an Arab man to be. Tall, big boned, mustached, with that natural frown on his face which he cannot control, in other words, he smiles -rarely- as he frowns. The kind of man who would do a dozen things altogether to provide for his family. The kind of man who would work sunrise til sunrise without sighing once. The kind of man who would always find a minute or two to praise the Lord and thank him for all his blessings. The kind of man that has never fallen to the ground, never given up, no matter how hard life struck him. He is a man I would feel smaller than a minim whilst shaking his hand, my 6ft tall body looks microscopic in front of his. He is all that a man would be. Last time I saw him was a year ago, before, that is, seeing him in church yesterday. Putting his son into the ground and kissing him one last time. That was what broke who was once a rock, down. 6 decades worth of tears flowed out of his furious eyes. 2 decades of love, care, went into the dirt and probably a hundred pounds of muscle in his body failed to keep him up. For the first time, he’d hit the ground. The masses stood in silence not out of respect for the little man’s body. They were in shock that Youssef had fallen to the ground. For the hours to follow, Youssef’s legs were unable to serve him well. He needed three men by his side to walk him. There he stood among his family members accepting people’s condolences. But what could words do to the loss of his son? How could people’s handshakes and sorry’s, make him feel even slightly better? I refused to walk up to him with my own mother and give him a word of relief. I had no idea what to say I had no guts to walk up to him as a mother and her SON, to tell him it’s going to be okay. It’s not, going to be okay. Having sent my mother all by herself, holding off her tears she quickly shook his hand and ran away before she would mix her tears with his. I pray to God to give me the strength, and as usual he never failed me. I walk up to him with my head held high in my all-black suit, grab his hand as strongly as I could and I swear I could feel it getting weaker than a baby’s, by the moment. Grab his shoulder with the other and pull him towards me. “You’re not alone,” I say, “God is by your side. God made sure you’d become a lion. Your son might have died, but he sure as hell doesn’t want the lion in you to die. You’ve got 2 men and a girl, not to mention their mother, who need your support and strength right now. Don’t bail on them. You can do this. You can do anything in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”. That frown was back on his face the look of fury that had left him for minutes was now even more furious and so help me God that man of a lion was back on track for the sole reason that he didn’t want to fail his son and the rest of his family.
Why am I telling you this? Because I have not yet hung out with anyone who does not like the taste of adrenaline. Their heart pounding and blood pumping strong just because they want to prove their balls of steel. Let me tell you something, that’s not how you prove your manhood. You prove your manhood when your own father raises his head whenever somebody mentions your name. You prove your manhood whenever your mother tells you she is happy with you you prove your goddamn manhood when you bust your ass off day and night to keep your parents comfortable. But trust me when I tell you, your balls of steel will do you no good when you’re laying in a white coffin with a Zaffé crew waiting to dance in your pre-mature wedding into heaven laying to your father’s right and your mother’s left. Your manhood won’t serve anyone when your father hits the ground and your mother collapses on top of you. Your manhood will not do you any good when you’re sitting helpless in the dirt. And trust me the sweet taste of adrenaline is no match to the bitterness coming out of your father’s aching heart. You wanna be a man? You gotta stay alive first.
May God rest your soul.