Growing up, our grandmas would tell us how girls age faster than boys. We would be playing cha baba and cha mama with our neighbours’ kids of our ages, brothers and cousins and those small boys were literally mentally young, however old we knew they were. It came out well in the roles they played in that kalongolongo. The girls had more responsible roles than their male counterparts. 

Even when introducing ourselves to visitors and those annoying relatives who pretend they didn’t know or remember us, we often heard remarks like “and she’s (the girl) so grown she even looks older than her elder brother’. Such remarks would really annoy us.

When it came to marriage, we’ve always known or been told that a woman must be younger than a man because? Si women grow faster than men and sooner or later, she’ll be 58 while he’ll be 73 and ‘still young’ and energetic.

Young adults were warned against marrying or even looking at girls two months older. Abomination! Girls grow faster. I’ve omitted the ‘old’ between grow and faster. The reason why our grandpa’s married wives thirty years their junior, is because of this narrative. You’d find a very young woman with twelve o’clock boobies coming out of a smoky grass thatched hut, followed by a tired, eighty-nine-year-old guka with a walking stick, grey hair, and only three, out of the thirty-two teeth he’s supposed to have as an adult. Haa! Men grow old slowly, they say.

That young, succulent woman, probably just twenty-eight years, would be the old man’s 6th wife!

But times have changed. Badly so. Girls no longer grow (old) faster than men.

Whatever happened to this narrative, the gods should tell us. Boys of this age and time grow very old three times faster than how they’re supposed to, or how they used to. Food? Life? Stress? Or have they just suddenly become too lazy to take care of themselves? Beats me how and why an under 40 man would just look fwaaa. Come on, 1892 was just the other day, yesterday!

Truth be told, our not-so-old men aren’t very keen on their health and general wellness, as compared to women. They eat anything or don’t eat at all. They drink more often. They rarely exercise. Annual wellness clinics are left for women. Because women are the ones supposed to see doctors, no?

Random cholesterol checkups are a thing they only read about on the Internet. A man will only see a doc when it’s bad. When he’s unable to eat. Sleep or even breathe!

Our men seem to be oblivious to the daily dangers that they face. They struggle with the fact that they might be in need of help, and even their mental health is something we should discuss.

It’s about the societal pressure of being tough and man enough to push through daily life’s challenges. I’ve met men my age who literally struggle to breathe because heck, they’re not just healthy. And no, it’s something most of them develop along the way because of, well, mere carelessness. 

It’s reported that men are more likely to die of suicide and abuse drugs including and not limited to alcohol, as compared to women. They would silently suffer anxiety and depression.

They don’t seek therapy because they’ll be seen as weak. Hell, a man must man up! Therapy is for women. And just like that, this is how depression slowly pins them down.

Our men have let go. And it’s not a good thing, at all! Women struggle with baby fat, cellulite, acne, and stretch marks after childbirth. But they don’t give up because eventually, they look better with time.

And this is something we can discuss because childbearing is a whole process that does transformation to a woman’s body. So what excuse do men have for just being there looking the way they want? 

Listen. You don’t have to be healthy and look good to please someone.

One’s health and wellness is all about them. Unless it is a very serious health issue, which a few have, we all should stay healthy. Women try. Maybe it’s because of what was planted in their minds when growing up. Men too should try. Y’all should just work on staying healthy, age notwithstanding.