The earliest childhood memory I ever had was when I was one, my mum made the biggest and the only birthday party in my life.
I remember wearing this blue shirt with long blue pants and my mum was carrying me around, dancing with the women. There was Bhangra and music and food and everyone was in a joyous mood.
I felt like dancing, and I wanted to. So I tried squiggling out of my mom’s arms to join the ladies and dance but she wouldn’t let me. And out of frustration, I started crying.
And then I’ve forgotten what had happened. It’s like someone had turned off the light on you.
I also remember seeing my twin’s face and telling to myself, “I’ve seen him before.” And a part of me said, “This would be the face you will remember for the rest of your life.”
I remember sitting in my red toy car in the kitchen and I peed in the car. All I remember was waking up, with my pants soaking wet and my mum screaming at me. I was in a daze and all i could do was turn around, look at the car seat (which was wet) and laugh.
I still do not know why I laughed.
I remember crying because my dad did something that upset me, and he carried me in his arms and kissed me on my forehead. It felt good. And I stopped crying.
But this thing about crying. It’s okay to cry if you’re a girl and it’s okay to cry if you’re a kid. But when you become a man, if you cry, you’re weak. That’s how the world sees you.
It’s sad. Women, they’re gifted creatures but they have to suffer the pains of going through labor for 9 months.
But us men, we have to go through the labor of not crying in public.
It’s worst. Because if someone sees a man crying in public, it’s like watching a monkey performing dancing tricks. It’s funny and depressing at the same time.
Majority of the society find it funny and hilarious.
And so, men are cursed. We lock ourselves up in rooms or toilets and cry. For some, they never cry.
I’ve never seen my dad cry. He told me, when his mum passed away when he was 15, he didn’t shed a single tear.
I asked him why? He replied he doesn’t know.
“Didn’t you feel sad?”
“I did. But I just didn’t feel like crying.”
That’s when I realised the truth. People always mistake tears for sadness. You see, when someone cries, it could also mean he’s happy. He’s shedding tears of joy.
But sadness is something much more complex. Much more deep and it takes time to understand it.
It makes a talkative person go mute. It makes a thinking man, thoughtless.
It makes a living person, dead.
I’ve seen a living person who was dead even though she talked and moved.
I got introduced to death when I was three years old. I was at my old grandma’s house, playing in the kitchen when I heard my mum crying at the hall. She cried and hugged my grandmother. Both were crying.
I never knew what death was. I don’t really remember my grandfather. But that was when they got news from the hospital that my grandfather passed away.
I walked up to the both of them and asked them what was wrong. They said nothing.
But I knew something was wrong. Grandfather was not on his favorite bed.
Seven years later my grandmother passed away. She died a depressed woman.
By then I knew what death was.
I walked to her body, she was pale and thin. Her cheeks were sunken and her eyes were closed. I didn’t touch her. I couldn’t muster the courage.
I saw every man and woman cry in that room that day. And then I started feeling all tingly and weird and a lump started to form in my throat.
I started to cry.
I sat with my cousins as long as I can remember and we cried. And there was a point I couldn’t take it anymore and I walked out of the house, to the front porch.
Dad was sitting there with a bunch of men. The men were having a conversation, but he sat alone on the plastic chair far away from them.
I asked him why didn’t he go inside.
“I can’t take the atmosphere.” was his reply.
He shook his head and replied, “Because I might start to cry.”
That’s when I learnt not to cry. I tried to avoid the situations.
It took me lots of practice. Like when your mum slaps you on the cheek. When I was a kid, I start crying the instant her palm touches my cheek. I was such a sissy. Cried at every single thing.
But I slowly learnt to stop crying. There were times, when I got beating from my mum, I would wait for everyone to be asleep in the house, cover my head with my blanket, push my fist into my mouth and start to cry.
Then in my teens, I went through my first break up. I sat on the toilet bowl, turned on the tap so that the water was gushing out like crazy, and I would start crying.
The gushing water would muffle the sound of my sobs.
And then oneday, I stopped crying.
Instead, tears would roll on my cheek, but I wouldn’t cry. I would just merely wipe away the tears and pretend nothing happened. I would substitute my sadness with other things.
My dad substitute his with snuffs.
I did with cigarettes and loud music. I stopped crying. I avoided it at all cost.
I realised that when I went for my Uncle’s funeral. I loved him. I remember seeing his body, touching his forehead but I never cried.
I just felt bad. Felt like shit.
But I didn’t cry.
I became just like my father. A sponge.
I drove mum in the car that day. She was sobbing softly. All I could do was just pat her on the back and drive.
I went back home, sat on my pc, plugged in the ear phones and slept.
I didn’t cry.
But you see, the thing about not crying, is that, it’s like a Coke bottle. There’s just so much of pressure inside the bottle that if you keep shaking it and shaking it and shaking it, soon, it’ll explode.
So far, thankfully, I’ve not exploded yet.
But there are some Coke bottles, no matter how much you shake, the gas builds up in it, but after sometime, the gas recedes and the bottle’s back to square one.
No more pressure.
I hate to see people cry. It’s not because I find it a sign of weakness or anything. It’s just me. I don’t know what to do when someone cries.
I’m afraid that if i say or do something wrong, I might hurt that person. But the funny thing about that is also the fact that if you don’t do anything, it would make things worst.
I get so confused with these.
When my mum cried in the car that day, a part of me felt like hugging her and kissing her on the head and telling her things are going to be okay.
But a part of me felt weird and funny. So I just patted her on her back.
I guess, I’ve become an emotionless creature. All the years of crying, I’ve become an ice cube. Hard, cold. No longer the running water it used to be.
Maybe it’s for the good. Time would tell.