Oranges and Cactus

Whenever an African child is asked whether they have issues with their lives, trust you me they would most possibly answer with a curt little ` I am fine`, or `yeah, its all good`, ` dont mind about me` or the more usual ` there is no issue`. But are we all really fine?

I confess to having lost my brothers in life, three of them, and from the day each of them slipped off into the world where none of us has ever gone to, I sunk a little bit more into the ` I am fine ` syndrome, until it stopped becoming a solution to every thing i saw unfit. It became a sickness, akin to a cancer eating me from within. Sometimes I would be on the verge of breaking down, tears would practically be at the edge of pouring over, but if anybody did ask me about my condition, a smile, dazzling as always, a sigh for a moment, a shrug maybe, and ` I am good` would definitely come forth.

I heard that today everybody was talking about mental health, but I`d rather we did ask ourselves what really catalyses the ` I am fine` malady. Growing up a Maasai boy, I think I was taught to put a cap on all my emotions, something like a KFCB censorship. And to be honest it has always worked, when the world would come crashing on you, you just had to revert back to your male coccon, where you ought to be strong, to kill a lion probably, to undergo the knife without blinkng, to be cained by your sometimes overzealous teachers without letting out a squek of pain, and it taught me, to become `fine` in the face of everything.

When Maren,my first brother, passed away, I was shocked, for a moment of two, but then when everything goes into havoc it becomes a necessary evil to act fine. And act I did, with utter dexterity. The burial came, I probably did cry, a little, as the coffin sunk down the grave an inch at a time, when the soil thudded onto its wooden boards, with not even a pang of hesitation, when everyone who had come to mourn him had their fill of food, and they left, leaving me looking at his suitcases packed with cameras and coins. And I was fine, after all they told me that God has a reason for everything.

And then went Evans, perhaps the man who never ever should have died if I had my way with the Gods. And this time, it hit me, really hit me. He was practically my twin. He was teaching me how to deal with girls, how not to be the introvert that I have woefully become. I personally carried him to his grave, I did cry, a little sniff because I didnt have anything more to do. And when they invited me at the church, to give his tribute, I was my usual self, I was fine, smiling, hurting within but still fine.

For Tittus, I would say I was half expectant. After Evans the ` fine` had become a sickness. I sought the absolution in everything, in god, in friends, in friends, clinging to poverbial straws that really slipped past me. And I was swimming, down the drain, each day a little closer to the abyss. I would talk myself to sleep(I still do), but I wouldnt cry. Each day I would go home and look into the next room just inn case it were all a dream and he was alive, I was `fine`. And so when Tittus went down the drain ,I realised that being `fine` is an illusion, “God`s plans` which is almost always the layman`s panacea to your sorrows is also an illusion, and I broke, really broke myself until I felt that I was no loner ` fine, and in the pieces, I found this me.

Yes, I still cry to sleep, but I cry with no inhibitions anymore. I have accepted everything, but his acceptance is not the savoir faired ` being fine` that everyone expects of me.And if at all my mental health is to be questioned today, I`d gladly say I am not fine, rather be shackled to the chains of ` being fine` when you are existing on a bunch of straws…

Its very fine, not to be fine…

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