HANG IN

Dear sons,
I have missed chances and overlooked privileges, I have failed attempts and successful outcomes, and all of them have shaped me to the man writing this letter.

Please find love in your teenage hood, don’t wait till everything is grey and stale, careful and unadventurous. Don’t wait till all the pulse is collapsed.
Find love and don’t clog your heart; let her in and walk you through your dark corridors. Your heart thumb loud, and she’d make your lips say funny words. Don’t forget to tell her how beautiful her nose is, mimic how she throws her head from side to side when she smiles. Tell her how her gait reminds you of a childhood dream, how her scent seduces.

Tell her also how angry she makes you, and if ever be a moment to be jealous, shut your lips.

Love is beautiful, and don’t you mind what anybody will tell you, it is the best of things. So when she finally breaks your heart, and she will; don’t hate love for it, don’t forget love is beautiful still. That the sharpest knives cut deepest and the most beautiful things hurt most. But you should still fall in love and don’t clog your heart, the scars of heartbreak will strengthen you more than any whip on naked back can. Think less about her and let her stay in the history she choose. If you ever have the might, forgive her, remember she is just lost in the world like you, or your sisters.

I’d beg you, fall in love again. Find a woman you love and loves you back and stay faithful to her, yet do not waste energy on a love that wants to leave; it’s sign post for the blind and music for the deaf.

As your teenage peak and the hormones rage, and the girls don’t give more than kisses, you’d be tempted, first in the shower, to stimulate your erection and stroke it back to flaccidity.
Neither I nor your mother will be there, and I cannot promise you that it will feel bad or you will try to stop, the urge will surge, and crack you at late lonely nights. It is additive, it weakens the bones and toxic to the brain, it will attack your self-image, and soon it will be awkward to stare at your mother’s beautiful iris comfortably. But your mother, do not stop to behold her beauty please, allow your brains to evolve and your bones, concrete.

Money is funny, and not even I understands it well. It is a concubine, visiting when all is dark and dead, and leaving before the torch behind the skies light. It’s a concubine whose naked skin and back-door acrobatics will leave you insatiable. I hope this will be easy for you, but like all skillful concubines, they will snap your spine if you let them. They are best gifted to the bachelor with no woman and much need for a cozy skin; give out money as soon as you’ve earned it– and yes, you must earn all your money, it will fetch you honour and loyalty. You will find out how cheap people are, and your spine will stay by you till old age.

You will get to school and it will be hostile there from the first day. You’d cry and find someone who will make you cry, but please, stay in school. Do your assignments yourself, that way you won’t feel out of place when you sneak pornography between your notebooks, you won’t feel like an empty head when you’re chased out of class. Stay in school and learn fancy English, and calculus and relativity of matter. Read books twice as you sleep, tell your mother when school becomes difficult; I might not understand you well enough.

Just stay in school and keep learning daily, and one day, just when you’ve learnt enough, money will find you. Nobody finds it, it finds us. And you will know when it has found you, it might propel you to finish the degree or compel you to stop in your track, but like all matters of the heart, you’ll know when it’s your call.

Church and religion is difficult to talk about, it is mostly political and limiting. Find a religion that reads a book, has order, respects the neighbours and has flaws historically. Bow to their god and meditate a lot, until you can obtain absolute solitude, do not call yourself a god, solidarity with your brothers and worship of your creator is your best strength. You must not inherit my church, but respect the rosary, make the sign-of-the-cross when you are out on options, say “My help is in the name of the Lord” when you’re troubled, and “Glory be to the father” when you’re grateful. Fast and forgive trespassers, other than these, stay away from the drunken argument of religion and its sickening politics.

Emotions will rush afore you like dust in the Sahara, but be calm and strong. Fear and anger are bilious, do not taste them, do not serve them. Gratitude and love can bloat, do not hold them to yourself.

Finally, family is a gift. I speak of your uncles and cousins and grandparents also; the inseparable sheath that feeds and protects you, even the days you doubt these, they love you endlessly. Open your worries to them and let them see your intent. Success or failures must not break the bridges between you, shed-off your garment of pride or sorrow whenever you smell your blood. Family is all you’d ever truly have.

Nel Ibuola lives in Jos, where he studies medicine. He has just finished work on his first book- Things Easily Lost, which he published free electronically on OkadaBooks. This letter is an extract from the short fiction. He tweets from @n_ibuola, and blogs on nelibuola.wordpress.com.

Thanks for the time spared to read this. Please endeavor to leave your thoughts, views and/or comments behind. Your feedback is highly appreciated.

Iyim-Eli

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