Monday, July 25, 2016

When Boys Don't Cry, Women Mourn by Fezile Kanju




When boys don't cry, women mourn

It might be hard to imagine but the church my parents lead was the first ever church for the Ceko site of our village. My parents were probably the first and only couple to go places together and have their entire family together at one place other than at a funeral before the year 2000. Church on Sundays was one of the events that saw my family together. On one of these Sundays, my father walked into church as usual, carrying his white garden chair and positioned it next to the grass mat where all of us, the Sunday school kids were seated. Church started and so did drawings on the soil and washing off dust with saliva amongst us who were seated on the mat. I cannot tell you how many hymns had been sung when one child yelled out "baba Kanju, you are sitting on Abraham!". It was long enough for one of the women to quickly lift up this 8 year old or something boy as if he were an infant dropped from his mother's back. Only then did Abraham start to cry. Church seemed shorter on that day. Perhaps it was because i have no recollection of the long closing prayer that often stood in the way of my mother's Sunday lunch. I remember arriving at Abraham's home and my father introduced himself and confessed to the child's parent that he had hurt the boy's foot but assured them there was no need for him to be taken to the clinic. I don't remember my father telling the parents that Abraham did not cry, that he sat there hymn after hymn in pain and silence.

On our way back home and at home, my parents with some of the women from church kept asking why the boy did not cry. Why did he not scream out "baba Kanju, you are sitting on my foot" ?This is how Abraham got his first pair of shoes. My father went back to Abraham's home and asked if he could go with him to buy him shoes. With the shoes, the chair would no longer hurt that much.

I don't know why little boys don't cry but I do know that when little boys don't cry, women mourn. I was reminded of Abraham when I went to Timergara, in the khyber Pakhtunkhwa province last month. Unlike the heat in Islamabad, Timergara's forty something degrees celsius heat sends men, young and old to the grey Indus river. This is where a group of young boys in their early teens were swimming when one of them was swept away with the river's unassuming tides. The boys did not cry. They went home and told no one of what had happened. It was only at Iftah time that the boy's family asked of his whereabouts that they learnt of what had happened. The boy's mother works at one of the hospitals with some of my colleagues. She was doing her evening shift when she was given the news. She became numb and now she mourns.


Fezile Kanju is a friend of mine working in Afganistan. She is an activist and a love of african jazz.

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