Boy – A Short Story

African Stories
// 3 March 2020
Boy A Short Story

What is it like? The burden of being male? The pretense of lifting dead weight without grimacing. The art of dying without making a sound. You’re the first to step forward. You risk the flames. You dare the ocean. You jump the cliff. You defend all whom you love.

What was it like those teenage years when you first learnt to bluff your mother’s embrace? The first code of manhood, your friend says, is turning away from your sister’s kisses. You learnt to square your shoulders and walk away from feminine whims.

What was it like hiding by the kitchen door, listening as your mother shares moonlight tales with your sisters? How did you feel straining to hear above the chorus of pestle and the echo of laughter?

What was it like the first time your father handed you a glass of wine? When the warm whiskey tickled your throat, did you mask the burning taste with a bright smile? Did you draw your chair closer and ask for another glass?

What was it like the first time you sat at the dark corner behind your school library with your friends? And when Ken stretched the wrapped weed to you, did you cringe? Did the smoke set your chest aflame? Did you laugh when your friends threw friendly punches at you and echoed – ‘Na man you be.’?

What was it like the first time you broke her heart? Didn’t she look just like your sister, standing there in the green dress, eyes tearing into your soul? Tears hanging on her lids. Did you see the mucus dripping down her nostrils or the violent way her shoulders quivered? Did her pain grip your chest? Did your hands yearn to reach for her?
“No trust dem girls.” your friends had warned.
How did you feel when you walked away? How did it feel lying on your bed that night and the nights after, convincing yourself that you didn’t love her?

Where did you bury your heart? Was it by the oak tree or at the river bed? How deep is the grave? Can we both dig up? Shall we shake the dust from your soul? Can we make you human again?

“These arms will forever be your home.” The woman says. “We will fight by your side and sail the storms with you.”

You won’t be the lamb for sacrifice anymore. You won’t be the first to take the arrow. There will be no shame in saying you are scared. We will both be warriors and no one would need saving. We will be humans again. Whole again.

We will feel, laugh, cry, dance, so when we die? We will die not wearing a mask.

We will die alive. This and more, I promise.

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