— He said it in no uncertain terms. “You are no longer welcome in my home!” My grandfather disapproved of my tiny earring. I was 16. He was in his seventies. A stern man he was, grumbling always about the sinful failures of his off-spring. My father remembers him for his belly laughter and his unconditional love; characteristics I never got to see. Two years later I visited my grandfather in the hospital. I had removed my earring for the occasion. He looked at me, kindly. And whispered: “Your parents must be proud of you…” By those words, I remember him.
Aernout Zevenbergen is a counsellor in Switzerland. His specialties are modern masculinity, identity, and life transformations. Between 1997 and 2016 he lived in various countries in Africa, where he worked as a journalist, and published his book Spots of a leopard - on being a man. He blogs here.