Today is an auspicious day. It is the 11th of November, 2020 which means Hindus around the world are lighting up fire crackers and oil lamps as they celebrate Deepawali (Diwali), the festival of lights.
It is one holiday you’ve always said you would love to experience for yourself, Diwali, second only to Holi. You still dream of touring India, attending Spoken Fest and seeing the Taj Mahal one day, amongst other dreams. Right now though, you are still in Nigeria. You are in the family house in Abuja. It’s windy now. The harmattan weather has made the air so dry, you wake up every morning with a cough and in want of water.
2020 must seem like a really long time ago. I can only hope that 2025 has been kinder to you than this year has been to me. The lingering ASUU strike and the COVID-19 pandemic have put your schooling on pause for nine months straight. There are rumours that this strike is going to be the mother of all strikes. We can only hope that those rumours aren’t true and seek better schooling alternatives.
How has life been these past five years? You’re twenty-four now, six years from your dirty thirty. How do you feel about that? Have you found contentment? I would say happiness, but that is such an ephemeral thing. Contentment, though synonymous, is all in one’s perspective. Happiness is reactionary, but we can will contentment to come. Have you? Have you made peace with where you are now? Have you made peace with all the milestones I expected you to hit?
If you haven’t, I would like to remind you of something. Can you remember when we started taking writing seriously? We were fourteen at the time and we had just finished writing that manuscript. You know the one. We really thought it would be a hit. We thought that at nineteen, five years from then, we would be a published author with several books under my belt. We thought that we would’ve won the Caine prize and that we would be the next best thing since Chimamanda. We thought that we would be on some bestseller’s list somewhere, and that we would’ve won a ton of famous literary prizes. We’d never imagined that at nineteen now, all we’d have to show for is an email address filled with rejection letters and a slapdash literary blog. Can you imagine the horror on my fourteen-year-old face if I could go back in time right now to tell her that this is what I had to show for FIVE years later? She would flip. She would probably quit writing then and there, and start putting her energy into something else, maybe on getting better grades at school (lol). My fourteen-year-old self would never understand where all that time went. She simply wouldn’t, because she’s fourteen.
The years have taught me that life is a lot more complicated than I imagined. I’ve learned that you can plan all you want, but when you don’t factor in responsibilities, as well as priorities, your plans are doomed from the start. I’ve made peace with all the expectations I put on myself when I was fourteen. I’ve made peace with the fact that I run a slapdash literary blog that earns me no royalties at nineteen, that I’ve not made a name for myself in the Nigerian/African literary space and that I’m no Chimamanda.
So, Amarachi Chinonye Juliet Ike alias Amie, if you are reading this in 2025 thinking you haven’t done enough, I want you to make peace with all the expectations I’ve placed on you that you couldn’t fulfil. You know them by heart. You daydream about them. You scribble them in your journal and talk about them at every given opportunity. I don’t want you to focus on all the opportunities lost (because surely those exist). I want you to focus on all that we’ve made possible through hard-work and consistency. I want you to be just as ambitious and diligent as you’ve always been, and I want you to set our sights on the next five years to come.
In all your adulting now, do not forget who you truly are. Don’t become a slave to money. Don’t settle. Don’t ever settle. Keep dreaming. Keep believing. Keep fighting!
PS: Please, keep in touch with the family. Also, don’t get pregnant. Lol.
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