He was the talk of the town, the life of every party but underneath all the bravado there did lay a secret and a life he was happy to hide himself away from.
Every social event in town was an open invitation for him; people went out of their way to invite him.
They did so as he was such a worldly man, full of humour and grace.
He wooed the women and impressed the men, he could talk eloquently on any subject and there wasn’t anything he seemed afraid to discus.
He attended numerous charity events and as a draw card ensured that whatever the charity they received the maximum support.
Every so often he would disappear. The official line was that he was taking a break away from his heavy schedule. His life was just that, function after function, committees lining up to engage him in their efforts to raise funds for their particular cause.
One year he didn’t come back. Missed the Black and White Country Ball, the Inner City Poverty Drive and the Children’s Hospital Annual Fun Run.
Eyebrows were raised and questions asked.
Where was he?
His absence was out of character.
Weeks turned into months and soon he name was forgotten for that is how modern society is, if you aren’t out there doing it and in the public eye they turn to someone else.
There’s a man on the street corner, a man sitting there in his raggy shirt and his tattered coat. At his feet is a small used coffee cup in which donations can be placed.
He sits there every day and most people ignore him, some who have come to notice him nod as they go by dropping their small change into his cup.
A young journalist walks by and stares at him, in her head a light comes on and she hurries to her work place.
On the computer she finds what she is looking for.
Article after article of the once famous and in demand man who vanished without any trace.
The next day she ventures out into the street and finds him once again on his corner.
She sits and engages him in conversation, says she knows who he is and wants to know his story.
He looks at her through eyes that betray his disappointment in being discovered. He wants to be forgotten, he wants to remain anonymous.
Later that day she follows him to the place he stays in. An old lodging place. She asks him to come to dinner.
Over the next weeks she gains a degree of his confidence and she gradually extracts parts of his story. She asks his permission to use his tale.
In White Ribbon Week, a campaign to educate men against the use of domestic violence the journalist publishes her story about the other side of domestic violence. Violence against men.
Her subject like so many male victims of domestic violence wants to stay anonymous. Despite escaping the violence his life has been destroyed, his self-esteem shattered, his sense of himself as a man no longer recognisable.
He wants to be an advocate; to spread the news that domestic violence doesn’t discriminate.
So his story is told but his identity hidden for he still fears the wrath of his attacker should his story be known. He fears the ridicule of family if they did discover the reason for his fall from grace.
He remembers the life he once had, how it brought him fame and fortune and at the same time the humiliation of a home in which he was the source of all ill humour. How day after day the endless ridicule, the greed and selfishness finally drove in to seek refuge and escape.
Of course all that resulted in rumour and innuendo as to why he had disappeared, his wife filled the papers with tales of his infidelity, his drinking, his gambling how she was left with children he obviously didn’t care for.
All the while he lived there he was the life of the party, the name on every one’s lips and he was happy to wear that mask, a mask that hid the truth.
His new mask is no different, just a little more grizzled and unkempt.