Who Are the Weak Ones?

Most of the mental breakdowns
I did have, I’ve deemed myself
weak for not keeping it all together
until I pondered upon–
who are the ‘weak’ ones?
All the times,
I’ve heard this word on repeat
flashed before my eyes; a
tangled mess of papery memories.

The first time I heard the word was
when I was out in the park
playing around.
I was about eight.
A six-year-old boy
running about with a ball bruised himself.
He cried and his father
reprimanded his humanness,
“Real boys don’t cry.
Don’t be so weak.”
And the boy shushed, frightened.
But tears still trickled
down the cheeks.

Once at a restaurant,
a grown man
sat with his friend
on a table in the corner,
venting about his divorce.
He wasn’t old, but his grief
made him look middle-aged.
He was a man with a broken heart
and greying hair.
“I’ve loved her so much.
I gave her everything,” he cried.
His friend, trying to console him,
low-key rebuked his misery:
“You’re a man. Real men don’t cry.”

At school,
a friend was
struggling with her grades.
She was labelled ‘a weak student’
while I knew she was
struggling for a reason.
Yet she was extremely bright.
Her mind, was one of depth.

A girl in my neighbourhood visited me.
She seemed very cynical to me.
Her suspicious nature
made me question her,
“Why are you so cynical?”
to which she replied,
“I used to be very trusting.
But one person abandoned me,
for which I was called
gullible and weak minded.
I can’t trust anyone since then.”

are the physically weaker gender.”
This line I’ve heard umpteen times
to the well heard-of question,
“Why does patriarchy exist?”
All this made me
rethink the perception I’ve been
programmed into,
of what constitutes the ‘weak’.

Amna Mannan is a writer and a poet.

Featured image: Wladislaw Peljuchno/Unsplash