We know nothing more about the details of the man in the parable of the Good Samaritan outside of what we read in the New International Version Bible in the Book of Luke 10:25–37. As a Psycho-analyst and profiler, I want to tell you about this traveler found bloodied after a mugging accompanied by a thorough beating. I will tell you why he was mugged and what happened after he came out of his coma.
The distance between Jericho to Jerusalem is 24kms with an elevation of 1060M of mountainous terrain. At a walking pace of four (4)Km/hr it took him seven (7) hours Thirty (30) minutes to arrive at his destination, with approximately two ten (10) minutes breaks in between. This man was mugged because he presented as someone who had something (s) of great value. The way he was dressed perhaps; designer shoes, new clothes, expensive bling? He was also preyed on because of the vulnerability detected of traveling by himself. It is likely that it was the end of the month and he was going to visit his family in Jerusalem since he worked in Jericho. You see, he used to visit as often as he could. At times, he would visit monthly and at other times, he would take eight months (8) before being released from his duties at work. He was carrying loads of money in cash underneath his robe. It was cash for the family enough to: clear debts his new wife of two (2) years had incurred, buy presents for his super-hot and sexy new wife and adorable young children, cater to the household shopping to last the family a month plus, take the wife and children out to the amusement park and the cinema to watch Black Panther, visit the ka-local (neighborhood pub) and chafua meza (buy a lot of pints for a very long time) for his boys hadi (till) they say NO to the alcohol, dish out some money to relas (relatives) just so they do not forget who the jogoo is, buy that new calf for his mom to increase her stock and hook his dad up with money to boost the school fees of his younger siblings still in school. He was in his mid-twenties (20’s), six (6) inches tall with a broad back, big hands and feet with skin that was deeply melanin. He must have taken the deserted short cut which was the old road before the bypass was built just so to get home earlier, and escape the brutality of the midday sun. That must have been where they accosted him. They were like a swarm of angry bees on his person. They left him for dead, he had resisted you see. It was more out of instinct than choice really. They had surprised him by the attack. He had never heard of anyone hurt on their way home to Jerusalem. They beat him to a pulp and took all his money, bling, shoes and clothes worse, they tried to break his spirit. He knew that if he stayed where they had tucked him in between the rocks, he would die. He knew he had to get back on the main path to the Jerusalem by-pass so maybe, just maybe someone would prove to be a Good Samaritan.
Though there is a rising veteran community of women from the armed security services, the majority of veterans are men. The rising number which is of concern and we would like to highlight on this Women’s day, is the exponential number of women who are having to stay their lives in the care of the male veterans. Women who are the daughters, sisters, wives and mothers of veterans in this country are super heroines. Their agility in adaptability is guaranteed yet these changes are occurring without the luxury of a script, preparation and support. They seem to orient themselves in the direction of care -giving out of the sheer belief in the bouncing back from the impact of war wounds to normal by their son, brother, husband and father. On this day, we want to honor this women with visibility.
There is the widow both young and seasoned who is fighting for the death benefits of her dearly departed and still making sure that the children do not forget who their paternal aide of the family is. You see the people she is fighting, are his parents, brothers and sisters. They say she is young enough to marry someone else and does not deserve those death benefits. Even as she fights them, the other widow is aware she can never reveal to them she got the death benefits, lest they react violently to her children because she is still living in the same compound. Both widows are still making sure the children get admitted to school even though their birth certificate does not have his name. Every time someone says to her, “Lakini wewe ni mzee sana, bwana yuko wapi?” (Where is your husband? You are old enough to have one!) She clasps her hands together for comfort and restraint. Then with a smile on her face says, “ Hayuko na sisi tena. (He is no longer of this world)”
The mother who will leave her shamba (garden) and livestock behind to travel ten (10) hours with her son till he arrives at his destination. You see, he has suffered Traumatic Brain Injury and sometimes he forgets what he was meant to be doing and the reason why.
To the daughters who are articulating positive words about their father and going as far as defending him to those who call him, “Chizi (Crazy).” He has become hot tempered and violent to everyone since his discharge from service two (2) years ago. The entire household hears him screaming in his nightmares on the nights he sleeps without being drunk. He is always questioning where they went, who they met with, what was discussed. He rarely leaves the house and spends most of his time leaning on the side of his matrimonial bed. His wife sleeps in the children’s room now. She woke up to him struggling her violently in one of those dreams where Al-Shabab got him inside the hadaki (foxhole).
To his sisters who are calling his wife and saying, “I will Mpesa (mobile money) you money for food. Tell him you got it from someone who owed you and has finally paid up.” You sisters are holding up the wives and his entire family while being thoughtful enough not to emasculate him thereby saving some little dignity upon the wake of so much personal loss. There is a special place in heaven for women who support each other.
To the wives who are living in fear from both their husbands. The common scenario is him calmly in an even voice threatening, “Iko mtu atakufa leo (There is someone who is going to die by the end of this day).” Sometimes, “Nitakuua (I will kill you).” Other times, “Nitajiua (I will kill myself).” They also leave in fear of a society which bares down harshly on women for making difficult choices which seem selfish yet are necessary not only for self-preservation but the safety of the children as well. “Ulimuwacha alipopoteza kazi kwa jeshi (You left him because he lost his military job). Gold digger.” We see you, we know you, and we acknowledge you. You are living in a suffocating environment with limited options and we empathize with your suffering. The wives who are suppressing their personal grief of losing out on a life that was promised, we recognize your sacrifice. The wives who pacify their husbands at great personal risk, when they are projecting their fear violently onto the children, your courage is honored. The wives who are silently taking the blame from his family over his change of fortune and behavior, your wisdom and humility is registered.
When the man finally gained consciousness, his first reaction was of fear borne out of confusion. Was he dead? Where was he? Was he in heaven, hell, with the ancestors? He could hear something from a far. All it was in the beginning was a sound, obscure and not definitive. Then it became some kind of mumble. It was farther refined into a voice. Finally it was clear that it was a man with a deep soft voice saying,” Welcome back” It was then that he felt the sharp splitting pain which was in all parts of his head. “My head hurts….what happened?…..where am I?” These were the words he wanted to utter but all he could hear himself sound like was “Uuuuuummmppppphhhhahhhhhhhhh.” He was incoherent and the sound of his voice was unfamiliar. He was in numbing pain, confused, alarmed, fearful and suffering from voice dissociation. It was all too overwhelming. He felt himself shutting down and get drowsy. He did not have the energy to fight it and just went back to a deep sleep. He was able to stay up for longer than an hour after about after a week. Next time he begun to feel wholly like his former self was six months later. Yes, six months later! By then he had been told about how a Good Samaritan saved him from the gnawing jaws of death after he had found him on the path leading to the bypass. That although he left, the Good Samaritan had paid for all the man’s needs in advance. One evening as the inn keeper was dressing his head wound the man said, “I am grateful for all of your care and nursing. I appreciate and thank God for all of you. However I have to go home now. It has been six months now. My family must be worried. They must be thinking about having a burial ceremony where instead of my corpse, they are going to plant a banana stump to have closure and move on. My beautiful wife. My darling children. What have they been living on, surely? I have no doubt that my employer stopped my salary immediately I failed to return to work and counted me as AWOL. Now that it has been six months, I am certain they have already accounted for me as a deserter.
“At least you are still alive and getting stronger by the day.” Said the inn keeper in an assuring tone. “While you have been getting better, I sent out feelers. For your sake, I had to find out who your people are. There were times I was not sure you were going to make it to the next morning. You are a fighter my friend. I digress. It turns out, there is a family that has been looking for their son who was meant to arrive home the same day the Good Samaritan brought you in while unconscious, bloody and broken. I got word back. I have been very careful just in case it was one of those crooks who wanted to come finish you off for good this time. Your father and brothers will be here to take you home tomorrow. ”
PRESS FOR PROGRESS
Press for progress. That is the theme this year. How does this theme translate for women who are the unsupported and unseen care givers of veterans and their children in our society? There is a lot of talk of a strong global movement to achieve gender parity. How does that momentum trickle down to these women while keeping them safe? If widows, ladies and wives pressed for progress, it would translate to them believing that rescuing their men from the consequences of their own actions was rendering them powerless. Yet a shift in mindset has never been built in a vacuum. Thus to create an enduring circle of care MUST always involves a support network. The doing words in pursuit of this vision for women are: advocacy, activism and support. Today, as a global community we are called to, “motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.” This means the following for women who care for veterans and veterans themselves:
1. Safe sanctuaries for wives, their children and ladies under threat to life from their war wounded father/husband/brother/son.
2. Residential and holding sanctuaries for veterans suffering from neurotic breakdowns and psychotic episodes.
3. Access to credit for small businesses needs to be an option for wives who do not meet the necessary qualifications to be formally employed.
4. Socio-legal assistance for widows both young and seasoned with children who were not published is an imperative lifeline.
5. Training in financial acumen and marketable skills.
6. A safe space to experience catharsis. Allow women to talk about their anger, express their grief and loss, ask questions, beat their thighs and pinch their faces, express disappointment and confusion. A space for reemergence as well.
7. A support network for women who are wives, daughters, widows and mothers of veterans both rested and living.
These women are the bedrock of nations Shujaas (warriors) both rested and living. Pressing forward for the women in the veteran community means being seen in the society in which they live and their strife acknowledged.