Man Up

Man Up

Day 57. Pouring thick hot sweat, heart thumping, short laboured breath, rain drizzles, silent sounds all blended and concerted in the lift of one sinewy leg right in front of the other busting in short calculated steps. The wet interlocked street glimmers obscenely as his eyes eat it up, Nike sneakers touching briefly like an impatient lover seeking for more. A myriad of reminiscences flash through his mind in quick successive bolts as he runs. His father smashing the wine glass on his mother’s face during dinner, the thin shards of glass slicing cleanly through an ear lobe splattering her red juices over plates, forks and burnished marble table as he and his brother stare, aghast in horror. Flash. Screams of pain wee hours before dawn resounding from his parents’ room. Him, outside his room, hands wringing in fear and indecision, his brother delivering successive sharp slaps to the back of his head bringing dancing light sparks before his eyes with a stern get back inside your room warning. One tired leg before another as he pumps, muscles rippling in answer to strained exertion.

Flash again to the rainy morning his mother’s sister came with an unmarked taxi, its trunk a wide yawning gap waiting to receive his mother’s few belongings in the form of 2 hysterically filled boxes. Nine and dazed, totally non-believing of his new reality, he’d cried till his eyes swam in their orifices clinging to his mother’s leg, begging to be taken along while his brother shuffled uncomfortably behind them as though wishing impatiently for the scene to be over and done. His mother had pleaded while the taxi driver honked anxiously, begging she could not take him long for fear of his father, he’d be too determined then to find her and make both their lives miserable. She was living the country that night. His brother would take of care him, would protect him she said as she the small interior of the taxi swallowed her beaten, frail form. He stops briefly to untie and tie a loosening shoe lace sucking in deep gulps of air as he briefly studies his environment. The drizzle has trickled to a stop donning the burgeoning horizon with a foggy greyish hue.

Flash again. He is 10 and swaddled within dirty laundry sorting and plunging. The housekeeper had abruptly quit the week before when in a fit of sheer rage his father had threatened her life and family for the soup tasted not properly salted. He’s categorising in abject confusion the different textures of fabric when he senses his brother’s dark ambience close around him and the room. Why is there this speck of brownish dirt on this white shirt, he asks coolly, the popping veins on his cleanly shaved head betraying his calm facade. He is still trying to furnish his brother a reply, struggling to plod the words pasts his painfully constricting throat when he’s grabbed by the neck of his t-shirt and hauled to the opposite side of the room. His brother picks up a burning electric iron, throws him over the iron table and places the hot flat metal on his exposed back. He hears his skin sizzle and smells the heady scent of his roasting flesh seconds before a welcomed darkness claims his mind

Two broken limbs and ribs, a cracked cranium, 3 different schools spent trying and failing to evade bullies, 2 support groups and nine years after he had risen, shaking from him the fear that had become his cold, constant partner for the 18 years of his existence. He trots to a stop two yards away from his father’s immense mansion and stretches his tense limbs, waves to a fellow gym mate, a buff guy sporting rippling biceps, and enters the AC cooled interior of the house. A light-skinned almost naked girl sidles past him as he enters, exposed butt cheeks wiggling in her wake; a cheery from his father’s harem of sex partners. He proceeds to enter his room when he hears the booming baritone of his elder brother’s voice calling out to him. He stands still, waiting for the usual trepidation to come clutching the pit of his stomach. He doesn’t feel it. Instead a roaring rage sends blood rushing through his head when he hears the reason from the screams were dishes of the night before from a dinner he didn’t partake of. He strides rapidly back to the sitting room to face his brother heading for him, hands positioned to cause pain. What happens next is only a quick picture of flash movements for with a burst of adrenaline and the intricate technique from his taekwondo instructor; he slams his brother’s stout frame hard on the marbled floor. He stretches out, splayed helpless, gulping repeatedly like fish out of water, shock and pain clouding his eyes. Still vengeful, he relents not as he delivers two more strategic kicks to his ribs and groin causing his brother to writhe to the side, folding his body in a semi-cup to shield his delicates. He raises his head to see his father staring at him silently, a mixture of mild surprise and paternal admiration playing behind his eyes. Turning on the balls of his feet, he brushes past and heads for his space within the house adrenaline receding as such he can hear mild tune playing from the corners of his mind, a tune he can’t quite lay his hands; a happy tune. It must be the tune of gods, like himself, victorious he concludes.




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