I had no idea this is what it means to be a man. Photo/FILE
“If you were to write a column representing husbands, what would you write about?” I asked hubby a couple of weeks ago.
Without missing a beat, he replied, “I would write about the kind of hell a man goes through every day, out there, in an effort to provide for his family.”
“What kind of hell?” I asked. After all, it is a man’s world and women have to work twice as hard to be recognised, not to name the discrimination and harassment we have to put up with. It is a bad mean world for a girl out there, so how difficult can it be for a man?
“It is tough being a man since failure is never an option,” he explained.
“But so is it for a woman,” I argued.
“Maybe so, but you see, a man knows that if the children go hungry, or are sent home for lack of school fees, no one blames his wife. It will be Kamau’s children who have dropped out of school or Kamau’s wife who begs for food.”
WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THAT?
I must admit that I still did not see what was wrong with that, until the other day when I got a call from Nancy, a former nanny who had worked for us for years, but left to go and start her own family.
She asked whether I could help a young girl she knew to get sponsorship to complete her secondary education, something we had been doing for some time.
It started two years ago when I needed a househelp, and Nancy referred a 16-year-old girl. While it is illegal to employ a minor, it also haunted me to turn the girl away. My friends and I decided to sponsor her schooling, and before long, Nancy had lined up other children in similar situations.
This case was no different, and thankfully, this girl got a sponsor who promptly paid her school fees. However, soon afterwards, the girl’s father called me. He sounded distraught.
“I took her back to school, but the principal has refused to admit her.
He says that I was able to pay my daughter’s school fees because I sold her to devil worshippers. He has refused to accept the money.”
This did not make sense to me at all — why would a principal even think this way? If it were me, I would have rejoiced that my student had rejoined school.
But what really moved me was how broken this father sounded. He was desperate not to fail his child, but the only solution he had found had been rudely rejected by someone with the power to keep his child away from school.
This father is a widower. I bet that if his wife were alive, he would not have let her see his desperation, determined to keep the family hopeful and not look like a failure to them.
While I am still trying to get to the bottom of this matter, I think I now get it when hubby says that it is a tough world for a man.
Not many a man will come home and tell his wife about that bully of a boss who berated him in front of his colleagues or cut him down to size, even if it was in private.
I may never get the nitty gritty of his ogre of a day, but I think after witnessing this father’s struggle to get his daughter an education, I am more alert to note when hubby comes home looking as if the world is on his shoulders.
Maybe that is why we are advised to just hug our man when he gets home — he might have had to contend with a multitude of bullies to bring that quarter of beef home.