People usually ask me why I walk in the rain, but I never did gave them an answer. Maybe because I never found the exact words to express my feelings or describe my state of mind.
Maybe because I felt they wouldn’t ever understand . Maybe because life in itself is a perfect story of twists and turns and that the saying ” different strokes for different folks” is all too real. . Or maybe, just maybe there are things better left unsaid and it’s better to be looked at strangely than to be pitied and mocked. Besides no one looks good in their darkest hours, but it’s in those same darkest hours that make us who we are. .into the people we have become. .
So I smile and shake my head and tell them nothing. For indeed it’s nothing . Nothing for them and something for me. For the little boy I was .
The little boy fashioned in the way of society . The little boy told to act like a man even when he was barely walking. The little boy who needs to stand while he falls. To run while he crawls. To never show weakness even when he is broken. To never back down even when he is barely alife. To be a man through and through as he was born to be, and everything else doesn’t matter or else he would be laughed at and mocked and termed a sissy and the rest of his life would be ruined. A little boy who had to live by the standard of society..all his life.
But whereas, this little boy just wanted to run into his mother’s waiting arms. Bury his face into her silky mane of black hair which usually smelt of flowers. Who loved to listen to her sweet tiny voice while she read him a bedtime story or sang while she made him his favourite meal. Who likes to comb her hair and plait it. Who likes to fall asleep in her arms and wakeup to kisses plasted on his face.Who wanted to jump and be happy without a care in the world. Who wanted to be free . Free to live .
Who didnt want to stand and talk and act the way father always wanted him to with a hoarse voice and his eyes bloodshot. Who hated to be knocked around and flogged when father had one too many gins. Who didnt want to fight and always got home with a black eye and made to swallow a cry because men don’t drip. Who had to lie to mother when she askes if am okay and afraid that father will hear my heart beating too fast , would slap mother’s hands away from my face because father would burn with rage if I soften infront of a woman, pained in my heart when I see the pain in her eyes. Then when the arguments begin. .when father flings the chair away and heads for mother, and mother screams pierces my ears, I would run outside away from the heart wrenching scene. Away from the woman I am to little to save. Just away, out on the street and then stand looking into the heavens, heart heavy and then, just like that the heavens open and then pours , blinding my eyes , mixing with mine and I would let go. ..silently , painfully, oblivious of the people staring out of their window , wispering about the little boy who always walks in the rain and then stands , face lifted up without words, without expressions, just standing there. And they would ask
“Why do you walk under the rain little one, what is it that lures you there??”
I would shake my head and say nothing. For it is nothing to them and everything to me.
For they wouldn’t understand. And even if they did, no one would save a child from his father and a woman from her husband. But they would still stand by what they believe. .”A man has a right over his family and a man has no right to be less of a man, even me..even me. ”
So I hide behind my pain that comes like a smile to my face, all the while praying for that day I am big enough, to protect her, big enough to stand and be a man, different from what he wants, but a man nonetheless, big enough to defend ..big enough to stop him and big enough to leave with mother and leave him in his own misery he had built for himself with his hands.
Mother had aged too soon for a beautiful young woman. Her bruises were more like part of her. The dark circles under her eyes were all too visible. A moan escapes from her lips everytime she walks. She jumps from every little sound and shivers when I lay my hand on her arm, her eyes relaxes when they rest on me, a weak smile to her face when she calls my name. Then she slowly would get up and enter her routine of care taker and home keeper, while the man I call father is slouched on a chair, and a pungant smell of booze filling the room, a pack of cigarettes and a belt laying at his side and fresh marks on my mother’s back. My hands glench into a fist but mother’s voice, always calm, always soothing ..” A man never lays a hand on the one who gave him life. ” her hands holding my face up, caressing my face, ” a man would listen to his mother , even if it hurts . Even if she breaks . A man never lays a hand on the man who have him life. Promise me'”
“What about a man who lays his hand on a woman from which life comes from her…what then??” I ask her, searching her face, even shaking her slightly . But she never answers me. I read the pain behind those muted words. I touch the sorrow like a cloth over her skin. I smell the fear like the bacon she fries over at the stove and yet I am held down by the promise like hands from underneath holding me captive , just because of a promise a boy made to his mother. Still I had to plan. For me, for her. For us.
Leaving school wasn’t a tough decision, mother and father didnt have a clue where I spent my mornings. Father never cared. But every evening I keep my little earnings from working under a car, pushing trucks and lifting cements under my bed inside a piggytoy-chest. Counting the days and months and years untill it’s enough , while I close my ears from the noise behind closed doors and my consistent walks in the rains when my heart can’t hold much. From a boy i became a man. And I knew one day ..This day would surely come.
Today was the last. Today was our chance. .while he slept, while he snored and laid his hand to rest. I woke mother , a bag over my shoulders, my money counted and folded in my trousers, her bag in one hand and her hand in my other hand. Her eyes pooling and her body shaking, her lips moving but I was done listening. We were leaving and that’s all and would be heeded. We managed a few steps outside , the early morning breeze touching our face, the silence of the streets and our freedom a few miles away.
‘Wait here, while I get a cab to take us far away” I left her by the gate, hidden from view while I rushed down the streets, bags in my arms. I was gone for five minutes. The house in perfect view from where I stood. And mother too. Untill all I saw was nothing, no figure by the gate and then I began to race back, with the driver tailing me. My heart beating fast in my chest. I was scared. Too scared of what I would find.
But five minutes was too short..and yet that’s all it took.
The room was silent. Father by the corner, talking to himself, gin uncorked, cigar lit and a gun in his hands while he sat talking to the form that laid sprawled on the ground. A hole gaping from her chest, as thick cloated blood formed and trekked down smearing her dress, finding it’s way to my feet, as though recognising it’s own. I saw the shadows lurking outside as people woke from their slumber following the sound. I saw them come in and hold him . I saw them shake their head and wisper. I saw them while I stood from the corner of my eyes as I stood transfixed to the spot. Unfocused for a minute. I saw her face, her beautiful face and then her eyes who saw only beauty . Her saw my mother dead, on the floor killed by the man who was to protect her and left by her son who wanted to save her..but five minutes was too long. I saw mother lifeless, dead and gone and a blinding rage tore through me. Like I was ripped from my skin. Like a wild animal howling in the mountain and like someone who wasn’t me I lurched at him, “Mother forgive me” the only words I remember before ending a life that gave me life with my hands . And none of the hands holding me could stop me. Or maybe they feared to. Maybe just maybe they too realised their own mistake for letting society ruin a good woman while they turned blind eyes and deaf ears to her pain.
I walked outside slowly. Unseeing. Unfocused. Unseeing . Un-me. Just as if on cue, as it has always done over the years since I was a boy. The heavens opened up and poured. While I walked in the rain and then standing , face lifted up , water mixing with mine and then I let myself go, releasing all the pain and anguish I felt. Releasing the heart – wrenching pain for the woman who loved me and I failed her. And for the boy who became a man and yet who couldn’t protect her and for the father whose death was too much mercy for the ruin he committed. I let it go, falling to my knees, shoulders heavy and head in my hands …I didnt want to be strong. I didnt want to be a man. I failed her. I failed me. I didnt want to be anything. I just didn’t. I cried much more than I ever did since I was a boy till I felt empty .
People kept asking me while growing up why I liked walking in the rain. I tell them nothing. For it is indeed nothing . But everything to me.
But the truth is , I walk in the rain so that no one can see my tears drop, because boys don’t cry and men don’t let waters drop. But no one can tell when the heavens pour because only then can I hide my tears when they come.