“The person who came out first doesn’t have two heads”. Papa, you said these words to me twelve years ago: yes, I still remember the exact date you made this statement. It is still as vivid as it was when you said it. You were sitting on the cream three-seater sofa in the living room with your back slightly bent as you read the Daily Times. It was a cold evening and I guess that was why you were in your pajamas even though it wasn’t bedtime. I was beaming all over, proud of my myself and of my achievement, I couldn’t wait to show you my report sheet. I had waited patiently for you to return from work so I could present it myself just like a victorious warrior would brandish his sword. I wanted you to pat my back and sit me on your laps while you reeled off on how proud you were. I was in my second year in Junior Secondary School, I had taken the 3rd position in a class with a student population of two hundred. To me, it was more than a dream, it was ethereal. I even beat my best friend Ola, he had come fifth. So I took calculated steps as I made my way from the room Tony and I shared, each step graced with pride and fulfilment. I finally made it to the sofa and leisurely presented the sheet to you. You took it up and after about ten minutes of painstaking perusal, your face was contorted in a frown.
“The person who came out first doesn’t have two heads two heads” ,you thundered .
I was lost in the miasma that followed,
“You could only make an 80 in English? What did I send you to do in school?”, you asked.
You went on to tell me how disappointed you were and that you weren’t sending me to school to clap for other students. You made me realize that I didn’t matter if I wasn’t the best. You even went as far as saying that the true proof of your paternity on me was by my being the best. There were so many things I wanted to say to you, so many questions I would have loved to ask you but I was too scared to even imagine them in my head. What if I wasn’t the best?, Would that really have made me any less your son? Would that have branded me a stranger before you? You see,Ola’s dad had a Lincoln Navigator even while you were still struggling with ҅your push and start ҆Peugeot 504,but that didn’t stop me from calling you father. I would still have called you father even if you were as poor as a church rat. That day, something died in me and I decided that I would do whatever it takes to gain your acceptance, to make you proud of me -a decision I regret to this very minute. I resumed JSS3 with unprecedented ardour, I later realized that Ola’s dad bought him a Play Station2 for making the fifth spot, ironical, right?
To ensure that I finish this letter before the drugs start to take their effect, I’m going to brush aside certain things .Senior secondary school presented a rough start for me Papa. I know I fell back due to the new teaching methods and the volume of work we were introduced to. That year, I came out fourth. I still remember the look on your face; it spoke of betrayal, disappointment and shame. You didn’t talk to me for days, but Papa, do you know that while you sequestered me, our neighbour Iya Bisi killed a chicken to celebrate the fact that her daughter was finally promoted after repeating SS1 twice? Eight months after, I had emerged the 2nd best student at the national Cowbell Mathematics competition. I was thrilled, “Papa would be very proud of me” I thought. I later realized the contrary, you said I had done well but you did not hesitate to draw my attention to the fact that a girl had beaten me to emerge 1st– a situation which you termed an “embarrassment’’. The Joint Admissions And Matriculation Board [JAMB] examination came. Prequel to this, you did not bother to seek my opinion of a career choice, you wanted me to become a doctor and my fate was sealed. After all, your colleague Mr. Adedara had a son in the university who was a medical student and you had to get even with him.
I think the drugs are starting to exert their effects; my eyes are beginning to form fuzzy images. I think I’ll have to summarize my letter. Tomorrow is the supposed convocation ceremony Papa, but what you don’t know is that I won’t be graduating as a medical student. I was asked to withdraw from the university during my third year following my use of ‘‘holy grass’’. My friends said that my assimilation rate would be geometrically increased if I smoked it. I conceded to them after all, it was what I wanted-to make you proud. My eyes are almost shut, I guess I have to go now but before I do so, I want you to realize that even though the doctors are going to say that I died from drug overdose, I am actually dying from an overdose of pressure and tension. They’ll tell you that the drugs caused pulmonary compression and congestion. They say suicide is a crime but you must know that you are a greater criminal. You raped my conscience, stole my pride and murdered my self-esteem. The police are going to make you believe that this was suicide but realistically, it is murder.
Goodbye paterfamilias, for I’ll never use the word ‘father’ in addressing you again. I wish I had never met you. I’ve got to go now, I know you’ll be joining me soon.
Dedicated to all teens who are caught between fulfilling their dreams and living their parent’s life.