A day that forever changed my life. A day etched in the history annals as the darkest day in my existence. A day that I was jolted out of adolescence into adulthood.
On that fateful day, I woke up courtesy of a commotion that broke out from within the confines of my parents’ room. I crawled out of bed and took no more than 10 steps towards their room when I was greeted with the most shocking sight.
Its that of tears rolling down my mum’s cheeks. Heartbreaking as the sight was, it was nothing compared to the shattering whispers that accompanied her cries as I queried her.
‘I couldnt wake your dad up. I tried but I just couldn’t’. Words that feel still as raw every time I recall the mere sound of it.
Every speck of details in that moment never truly leave me. The dimness of the room, the trail of tears on my mum’s face, the silence that follows that statement.
I dreaded the thought of turning my head to the body lying on the bed but I was left with no choice. And there he was. Cold as a block of ice, he lay there motionless. Not moving an inch. The resuscitation that was being conducted on him was futile.
At a tender age, I was an orphan. Something that never crossed my mind. I remembered crumbling to the floor and pleading for his forgiveness. Receiving no reply, I rushed out of the house, found a quiet spot in the vicinity of the block and broke down while continuously looking over my shoulders, to ensure no one will see that I was crying. Much like Tom Hanks’ character in Saving Private Ryan, I couldn’t allow anyone else, not least my mum and sister to see the excruciating torment I was feeling.
I felt I had to be a man and keep it all in. To be strong for everyone and console everyone. I bawled my eyes out as much as I could before going upstairs and checking up on my sister.
That was the last time I shed tears in many a year. That moment ushered my discovery of my coping mechanism. To hide my emotions and to supress them, putting up a facade of strength when deep inside, I was a shattered boy.
To protect others from my pain, I became distant at times. Growing up and watching movies like The Godfather and the Bourne trilogy, I looked up to Michael Corleone and Jason Bourne for their strength and resolve. But what I failed to remember was that at the end of the film franchises, both characters inevitably broke down and their vivace of invincibility stripped away.
Priding myself on being a Man’s Man, I continued to pummel any sort of weakness I perceive I had on my end until one day, I finally started to feel again. And boy did it came flooding back.
I learnt that being a man isnt only about being the strongest or being impregnable to tears. Being able to be vulnerable and acknowledge that you are suffering is what makes a true man.
That is why I am very keen to rubbish the notion that someone has of suffering alone. For that is a dark path no one should ever trek.