The day you were born,
You became a man.
So, when you crawl and hurt your knees
Do not move your lips nor make a sound.
Hold on child, men don’t cry.
The day you take your first step,
Is the day you become one with the struggles of life.
Do not feign annoyance when you trip and stumble,
Learn how to place your hands on the table of life and stand again;
That will be the first height you attain.
Weave your ego like baskets
And cover your fears with them,
Do not let the world see you as a weakling.
Do not let tears drop from your eyes,
Let no one know your fears.
Wear a smile even when you’re dying,
That’s how we know you’re a man.
Life is not a bed of roses,
So, when you fall, do not curse
The day you learn how to colour your walls with tears,
is the day you lose your manhood.
On nights when you go to bed with an empty stomach;
Don’t let the darkness know about the battle going on in your belly.
Teach your intestines how to be quiet.
The day you learn how to sketch lives
From the ink between a woman’s legs,
That day you become a god.
You stare at your reflection
And hit your chest the way men do after they win a war.
But the ocean in your eyes begs to flow when you hurt,
For waters must find their level.
Your skin tinges with the age-long buried pains
Behind your sealed lips are screams begging to be released.
You have been so strong for so long
Not knowing that it is okay to be a human, too.
Okeke Precious Ozioma is a young writer from Anam in Anambra West Local Government Area of Anambra State, Nigeria. She is a 200level student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka; studying English Language and Literature. She has published some of her works on Tuck magazine, Poemify Magazine and WRR.