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26 Nov 2016

The War Within You

Dear Kokumo,

I hope this letter meets you well.

So this is your month huh? Remind me again how old you will be in few days, oh! 23. Tell me what you are? What did you say you want again? Humph, you want to be famous, for the world to know you. You want to be rich. Is it to drown in the avalanche of notes or be able to get what you want when you want? Anyway it doesn’t matter, or does it? Your life is like a rolling drum, empty and blown away by the whirlwind. It is like those dry mooring leaves that have no more use and are fallen by the teensiest release of breath.Your life is unstable- or maybe I mean to say your emotions- for you wake up on Monday morning okay, but on Tuesday, you stare hard at the person in the mirror with a prickly feeling burning at the corner of your eyes and then fat balls of hot salty water stroll down your lids, majestically at first and then they rush out more now like the water from the tap you fetch every morning. You are scared, scared of what exactly?

You ask yourself, but answering that question is like discovering the mysteries surrounding Hades, you are scared-scared of the unknown. You lie on the bed on one of those days; those days when the sun is directly jeering at you or are you imagining that? You know those times when PHCN has graciously decided to bless you with electric power and the ceiling fan is rolling hard, yet your pores ooze water – when you lie on your bed and the tears go across your temple unto your pillow, when the icy sword of failure keeps jabbing at your chest.

Those times when an invisible hand is really around your neck, pressing hard, you want to suffocate, the creeping creatures of doom stay lurking at the corners of your mind, whispering softly, singing the eerie songs of depression, telling you your life is a wasteland. You sit upright and then begin to cry now; you remember all your past failures, you try not to think about them, they are like green bile strolling down your withered lungs, burning it in the process, but you cannot help it and your mind keeps telling you you are no good.

You cry, you cry and then you wipe your tears and ask yourself what’s really wrong. Your good spirit tells you your major problem- fear. It tells you that fear makes you a failure before you even fail, fear keeps telling you that you can do no good, it keeps comparing you to others, it shows you ‘miss neighbour’ who is just 21 years of age and already has a booming business and that wonderful writer who secretly intimidates you when you read his stories, you wonder if you can write like that. Fear tells you, you cannot; fear says you are not intelligent enough, you are lazy and sloppy and it would be better if you do not try new things because you won’t really go far.
This fear makes your heart hammer hard against your chest as though struggling to be freed, sometimes, the beating of your heart becomes so fast as though you have run a marathon, you want to take a deep breath and calm down -but you cannot. The gbim gbim sound can be heard by your ears, it even makes your head ache and your eyes sore.

Ssssh relax, you are like gold that goes through the ‘warmth’ of the furnace before coming out perfect.

Your life is boring, really boring if you ask me. All you do is think all day and write, you read books but still feel dull. There’s a vacuum somewhere, that part of you that is void, you crave for it to be filled, as though it’ll make you fulfilled- yet you cannot tell what it is, your short pretty fingers cannot find it. You need friends, real friends or don’t you think so?
You need people who can share in your dreams, who can sit with you and argue on different types of feminism. You need someone who is almost like you – who can talk about corruption, who will also get angry that a 90 year old man can marry a 9 year old girl in the North, who also believes that ethnicism and tribalism in Nigeria is almost worse than racism.

You need someone who you can argue with about books; someone who loves novels as much as you do and wouldn’t say who novel don epp? who you can sit with and share a laugh; someone who wouldn’t say you are odd, when you tell him you couldn’t sleep last night because yesterday, you went to Ketu Alapere and a policeman was assaulting an innocent person while his colleagues laughed as though it was nothing. He wouldn’t say “is it your business? Or is the person related to you?”. You do not need to talk too much for he understands your words before they are spoken.
Aha, don’t get me wrong, I do not ask you to fall in love; it wouldn’t be a bad thing though, but that is a topic for another day. I don’t want people to know you will soon be 23 and have never been in a relationship.

Kokumo, do not even let me start on your spiritual life, ah! Today you are on bended knees pouring out your heart to the One who listens, and next you are tired, you walk about disconnected from the world, your shoulders resigned.

Sometimes, your spirit is lifted, it is one of those moments when you close your eyes and sojourn to the land of the fairies, when you dream and see yourself with awards and trophies, those are the rare moments when you build mansions and then open charity homes because you have so much and you have become a blessing unto others. It is those moments you are a renowned writer and you are a voice in the world, when you are on the podium talking about Africa, racism and feminism, those moments you are laughing, your dimples sinking deep into your cheeks, your teeth white against the blackness of the world . . . and then you open your eyes, you see the ash coloured ceiling, you see the truth staring at you callously.

You remember your real world – where the stars are sad and the mornings gloom, where life gives you an accolade of grime and death and feeds you with dust and specks – then you toss on your bed, listening to Darey’s ‘Pray for me’ and cry. You do not even know why, it just seems like the saving air is retreating.
There’s a war within you, it makes you ask yourself if you are disappointing anyone. It gives you an illusion of self insufficiency. You fight within yourself; sometimes you are happy with yourself, other times you are… ssssh, relax, you are like gold that has to go through the furnace before turning out perfect – but you know that already you say, you know the future is good, you know your dreams will come through, but that nagging sense of fear asks when?

You will soon be 23, the clock is ticking fast. You ask yourself what you have achieved so far. You are scared…of the unknown.

Relax honey, relax. The future will surely come, the queen moon shall sit on her throne, in the makers bosom you shall crouch, when night owls do cry and when the raging storm is calm, the sun will rise again.

Relax honey, relax.

PS- Kokumo, I do not write this letter to you. I write it to myself.

By Oluwadunsin Deinde-Sanya

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