What you need to know:
- I'm talking about men who've turned fields into counselling rooms and safe spaces.
- I'm talking about men who'd rather miss a heartbeat than forget a church service.
Here's some homework. Drive or walk past any bridge or underpass and roughly count the persons seated or sleeping under these edifices in broad daylight. Walk around any open space or field, and take note of the persons who are either in deep thought or staring blankly into space.
Let's cut to the chase. Roughly 90 per cent are men.
I'm not talking about homeless men. I'm talking about men with hearths and homes, men who are holding down jobs, yet the heat - or cold - from the boardroom or bedroom has forced them to seek a private moment in public. I'm talking about men who've turned fields into counselling rooms and safe spaces, where sunshine fries their fears, the howling winds muffle their anguished cries, while raindrops on their cheeks camouflage their tears. I'm talking about men who'd rather miss a heartbeat than forget a church service, and now, as that itinerant preacher growls himself hoarse 10 feet away, they're sighing, collectively: "Jesus, give me a break. Please?"
They're all in plain sight - this mass hospitals of men - but we can't see them. It's either that, or we can see them but have decided they're not that big of a deal.
A man's home is his castle. But what makes a man to forfeit his comfy lazy boy, uninterrupted WiFi and unlimited access to a refrigerator and clean washroom for a hard ground where his back's against a thorny kei-apple fence, hazy phone network, "nylon fridges" and scrawled "Usikojoe Hapa" signs? (FYI. "Fridge" is slang for nylon bags used to store muguka or miraa).
I'll hazard three guesses. State of the home. State of the nation. State of mind.
Carrying weights of families
I've also been a regular in one such safe space. I still visit them. I once sat next to a man whose phone rang so loudly it could wake up those dry bones we used to sing about in Sunday School, yet he turned a deaf ear to it, even when it seemed like the caller was seated on the speed dial button.
"Neighbour, if you don't want to answer, why don't you switch it off or put it on aeroplane mode?" another man advised.
"I don't have the strength," Neighbour sighed.
That hit me. Hard. This brother was so tired of this weight he was heaving, till he didn't have an iota of strength left to do something that seems to take no strength at all.
That's partly the diagnosis of men who seek peace in open spaces. They're tired fighters. They're Atlas-esque men who are carrying weights of families, immediate and extended, on their broken shoulders. Men who politicians and pastors have let down. Men who are unappreciated by their bosses, babes and babies. Men who are a mere three letters away - tal - from being labelled nut jobs.
Next time you drive or walk by an overpass or field and see men who, according to you, aren't at work, know that they're working overtime to keep it together. Don't pass judgment by remarking: "Kwani these men have nothing to do?" Instead, pray for their well-being. Pray for their healing.
Why, like the Biblical anointing oil that - firstly - flowed from Aaron's head, a nation's healing starts from the top. That's the divine order. Once this balm hits the robe - (which is symbolic of the masses) - a nation's good to go to the next dimension. When this happens, these fields will cease being casualty wards where men silently bemoan their accursed lot and, instead, become playgrounds where men make priceless memories with their near-and-dear ones and neighbours.