Wed | Aug 16, 2017

As a man: Unlikely looking great fathers

Published:Sunday | June 26, 2016 | 6:00 AMMelville Cooke

Last Sunday, Father's Day, I was at Sovereign Centre in Liguanea, waiting on a 'box food'. Standing close to the line, but maintaining sufficient distance to keep the child he was holding away from the adults who may have been carrying all sorts of germs that could affect the baby, was a heavily inked 'bleachie'.

I was fascinated.

On a day dedicated to fathers, here was a young man cradling a baby like he was accustomed to doing so, but still being extremely careful. Without the child he would have been the stereotypical young man of vague value to the society and himself, face showing the ravages of melanin removal, one pant leg turned up over a Clarks shoes (no socks), cap at an angle and sufficient etchings to show that he has a very high tolerance for pain.

His holding the baby made all the difference to the picture - for me, at least. The young man may not be the child's father, but I believe he is. However, as I waited the five minutes that became 10 for a wad of empty calories, it seemed I was the only one paying more than passing attention. As I passed him, aforementioned empty calories in each hand, a soother fell from the baby's mouth and hit the floor.

 

EASILY OVERLOOKED

 

There was no rush by bystanders to pick it up. Actually, no one moved to pick it up, except the man holding the baby who quickly (while still holding the young one like a combination of eggs, porcelain and high-value bearer bonds) took a couple of steps forward, stopped and retrieved it.

While projecting what would have happened under other circumstances is about as accurate as 'ketching a rake' from a dream and rushing to the nearest lottery outlet, I cannot help but think if his physical appearance was closer to the conventional image of a responsible young man, the plastic would not have hit the floor before someone picked it up. He was, I believe, at best overlooked and at worst dismissed at a glance because of his varied hues, tattoos and attire.

It saddened me immensely that, on Father's Day, a young man epitomising the spirit of the relationship being celebrated (which holds true even if he was not the child's father) in a public space was a 'nobody'. Of course, it got me thinking about why and how men are ranked and celebrated - or not - in the society and the grave errors that some women make in choosing who they mate and procreate with.

As he stood there, that man was of immensely greater value to the society than another young man cruising around town in an expensive car with nothing on his mind but consumption - of food items, clothing, women, whatever. However, I would place a small, sure bet that he would draw more attention than the man at Sovereign holding a baby with the ease of someone comfortable with his sense of values.

I see young men like him regularly and it warms my heart every time.