Just 48+ hours since International Men’s day. It would be a disservice not to write about the mental health aspect of it. The little I can with hands that burn up with pain every 15 minutes. Again, I reiterate repetitive strain injuries from typing are a thing. Keep a look out for numb fingers or hands. That said, you can be sure this post will take a while to write. Therefore, let’s get to the points quickly.
Instances that I consider having almost lost my life:
Passed out for hours at M. Patel hospital (real name should be Limuru Nursing Home I think) circa 1995 because I was dehydrated and in pain. My body for hours as it had done before kept trying to throw up food that was non existent in my stomach. Yes, I grew up such a sickly child I missed most of my lower primary (nursery to class 3) schooling. Primary school friends had learnt to help me stand and walk home when I was too weak from vomiting anything I ate. But this particular day was different. Feeling the heaving tension almost break my ribs and spine. I remember letting go. I knew when to give up. I hadn’t before. Also a child shouldn’t remember. But I do. Because this particular brain is designed to hold onto information. Too much information sometimes. You learn how to handle it or live with it as you grow older. Teachers call it genius, some call it creativity, others call it madness. I call it the pursuit of happiness.
Saba Saba riots circa 1997. My eldest sister and I are in Limuru again. I am sick again but this time sickness is not the issue. It is just tonsillitis. The political meeting happening near Limuru market is. As was common during the Moi regime, the meeting was broken up by the GSU as tear gas and beatings soon rent the smoky air. Remember by then Rev. Njoya had already been badly beaten 7 years prior. The late Queen Wangari Maathai had also been hospitalised some 5 years before fighting the oppressive regime. No one was safe when the GSU arrived. Possibly resonates to date doesn’t it? I digress. There was no escape for us as more cops with batons chased people from the market towards the shopping centre where we were. Shop owners hurriedly closed their doors and we soon had nowhere or no one to turn to. But my sister did not give up. She stood in front of one door and kept banging and pleading. I on the other hand barely had a voice with my painful tonsils now on fire from breathing in teargas. Seconds seemed like actual hours as in the artificially dreary afternoon I prepared my back for the landing of kicks, sticks, blows and stones. I was ready to scream for the broken young bones. In the last second (so last second we could hear boots and screams outside the shop) the shopkeeper finally heard our pleas and let us in. A tiny tailor shop where we had to squeeze in with the Singer sewing machine and the clothes hanging from the walls. The space was so cramped our bodies had to touch the 2 sheet thin closed metal doors. Internally we prayed (or I did) for no stray bullets as they ran rife then. Again, a child shouldn’t remember that much detail.
Circa 2016, carjacking, pistol on my head. Jerky nervous hands. Shot goes off. Lagertha my beautiful white queen (ok, car..Men 🙄) courageously receives the bullet that passes by my right ear. This story is told online in a few words because our security is so internal it is upon you to keep the right shields (grill doors) up.
Circa 2019, 14 Riverside attack. I put off going to get my lunch at Secret Garden for 1 hour. I was going to be seated or walking from the restaurant when the suicide bomber blew himself up right outside it. As many in our building remember. We all trooped outside thinking it was a gas explosion heading for the fire point. Our building being the first from the entrance. We almost rounded the corner when our IT guy, a few paces ahead of me, seeing the men in all black and ski masks walking in through the gate, made the best split second decision he probably ever has made. Or at least to all he saved with his words. He said and I paraphrase, “These guys are not cops. Go back in. Forget your fire training. This looks like an attack.” The men barely got a chance to see us. No one came into our building. We were some of the first people out. Those who had to crawl out as explosions and gunshots still tore up the calmness of the river-side greens. Those people later made into memes because they seemed like men afraid for their lives. Yes those men. A year after in 2020, almost to the date they almost died, they were locked up in homes, lost jobs and loved ones to Corona. An adult should remember this.
The objective of this writ (as some that I do are usually for more my benefit than yours) is to give this clear message:
We are similar but are not the same. We are unique but still familiar. We find courage in spite of weakness. We find bravery in spite of fear. We smile when there’s so much to cry for. We live and we learn. But most importantly, we strive, for our dreams…and yours. We are men. #MensDay #MentalHealth