How are you
Modern society has advanced and some advances haven’t been for our benefit. Things that were normal a few years ago are no longer normal. When I grew up in Zimbabwe we all knew who are neighbours were, all the children played together on the streets and children were raised by the community and not just by a two parents. This is a distant reality in many a community. Today we have high walls and high gates and don’t even know who the neighbours are. Our language has changed; the way we communicate has now changed. We have cyber friends and cyber communities yet we don’t even know our neighbours.
Each time I am in the communal areas I am amazed that people always stop and greet and have a chit chat. Today getting a simple hello from anyone is priceless. We don’t greet anymore. In the cities one often gets a nod or an eyebrow twitch if you are lucky. You are most likely to get pushed than for someone to nod at you.
It may not be so bad. Those who know you will often say hello, Hi or Howzit. But don’t be fooled, when they ask howzit, the expected response is, ‘Not bad, ok, Good and you’ or something like that. If you decided to stop and elaborate that would be a bit awkward. Now, the phrase ‘how are you’ as we know it has all but disappeared and become extinct. When asked how you are, the desired response is I am fine and ‘how are you’ to which the response is I am fine. I
I am fine are another three words that are being abused, just like the words I love you. The words I am fine are loaded and carry the weight of all the untold joy, sorrows, pains, frustrations, sadness, elations and victories. Often we cannot express these emotions because the person asking doesn’t really want to know the real answer. If someone actually responded and told you how they actually were would you be prepared for the response? What if they told you they were on the verge of despair their husband had left home and was filing for divorce and she just wanted to give up on life.
On the other hand we also use the ‘I am fine’ words to hide the weight of all the untold inner secrets of our hearts. Maybe it us who need to let it all out and pour out hearts because by talking and expressing our feelings we can receive our healing. I am culprit in this regard. When someone says ‘how are you’ I reply, I am well when I am not well. I refuse someone an opportunity to pour balm on my wounds or to rejoice and celebrate with me. Maybe I should really say, I’m frustrated because the project is going as planned, I’ happy because we just received our first volunteer from the United Kingdom. There, I’ve said it, it’s not so hard to do after all.
I can think of friends and family that I haven’t had the time to sit with and find out how they are. I haven’t had the time to call and say how you are. I can however go and talk to the widow in my Golden Girls group and ask her how she is doing, when those around me may actually need that same love, attention and thoughtfulness. I need to start putting ‘how you’ are to good use and also begin to answer the question honestly, where an honest answer is being solicited.