A Few Good Men

a few good men

Movie previews vie for prominence in IMAX theatres as summer calls. The themes are the same though special effects vary. Whether resetting the day to secure a better future in Edge of Tomorrow or fighting for the survival of the species in X-Men: Days of Future Past, the protagonists are ‘ordinary’ men and women juxtaposed in extraordinary circumstances. They earn their place on the wall of fame in our hearts by navigating tough choices and taking the ‘high road’.

They may fall on the way eliciting groans from us or run with injured limbs drawing encouragement from us, but in the end, we discard popcorn cartons and nod to the beat of the song that accompanies the credits. We are looking for heroes and don’t even realise it. Year after year, Hollywood sells us this basic story of redemption, and we say, “Oh yes!” with our Dollars.

The big screen that typifies courage, honour, and integrity is a macrocosm of what a woman’s heart longs for. Sometimes political correctness, feminism, gender equality, etc., educate me to the point that when I place my hands on my chest, I no longer feel my heartbeat. Nevertheless, when darkness causes me to trip, I see clearly.

At nineteen, I chose love that devalued me. Dark alleys and groping hands crumble truth and leave broken hearts. I love you, should be said in daylight so the heat of the sun can scrutinize the lips from which the words pour. Then I met a man who did not kiss the girl and make her cry, although I was ripe for the picking. He said, “You mustn’t fall in love with me, you must reach for your dreams.” A man’s heart can be a safe place for your dreams, because if he believes in you, he will walk beside you and invest in your future.

If women declare unequivocally, “I want a man who will fight for my honour, yes, a knight in shining armour and baby, I’m no pushover, I can certainly hold my own,” then perhaps men will rush to borrow Superman’s cape! Heroism isn’t always glamorous. Countless choices refine what it means to be a hero. Every choice is a ripple in the river of time. Enough ripples, and you can change the tide for the future is never truly set.

Some men look at the dizzy neon lights of the casinos of life and remember that although they once hit jackpot at the slot machines, the house advantage in a game of roulette sets them up for long-term disappointment. They walk past so they can arrive home at six to ruffle Peter’s hair and read Anna a bedtime story; to watch reruns snuggled next to Mary.

They shove their hands into deep pockets when voices rise and tempers boil and even wave a white flag when it is their right to hoist a red one. They let the door click in place because a slam reverberates through the house instilling fear that clings to the occupants in its wake.

Others nurse battle wounds and walk with a limp, a gait at once laudable and laughable, but pay child support like clockwork. They embrace the dawn to polish their dull swords knowing that sheen comes from consistent practice and that just because someone loses his way, it doesn’t mean he’s lost forever.

Fathers, grandfathers, husbands, brothers, friends, sons, nephews, uncles, and cousins, although we do not see you featured in 3D saving the world, we need you to hope again. The curtain is lifted and the spotlight is on you. Don’t be a dying breed.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

p.s. Ayonfe okon mi, olowo o rimi, this one is especially for you.

 

 

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A Father’s Love

Father's Love

My father’s love is different from my mother’s love because my dad is not like my mum, as it should be. He is a thinker, not a talker; his low rumble rarely punctuated the soprano-rich chatter that filled our home.

While I can dig up a dozen memories of my mum the superhero, without knitting my eyebrows and closing my eyes, I can only dig up a few of my dad. However, each memory, etched with a permanent marker in my consciousness, represents a turning point that defined me as a writer.

During my childhood, my father was two things to me: Father Christmas and the man I wanted to please at all cost. Perhaps it was because he lived far away and I did not see him every day; the heart often longs for that which is not near. He returned home at Christmas with lots of praise and presents. He brought us tons of Judy, Mandy, Betty & Veronica, and Archie comics.

He made sure I had one Naira every day so I could go to Challenge Bookshop or Leventis Stores to buy a book. That was how I discovered the enchanted world of Enid Blyton and my imagination soared to distant lands and distant shores. I cut my notebooks to mini squares and wrote the stories I would have loved to tell.  That was how I learnt about pace and dialogue without going to writing school. Encouraged by my dad, I read and read and read.

As a teen, we read together because he was home every day. I scanned the newspapers daily, but saved the columns and editorials for weekends. Then I would lounge with him in our veranda, he lost in his world of words, I lost in mine, as the clock ticked away. When night fell and the queen of the night flowers released their scent, we slapped the moths and mosquitoes away, turning the pages of our newspapers faster than we had done in the afternoon.

He indulged my love for reading and there was always money to buy more books, Cosmopolitan, Vogue, The Economist, Times, Newswatch, and Classique magazines. That was how I learnt to argue for what was important to me with my words instead of my voice. Enthralled by the magic of words, my worldview changed one sentence after another. I wrote opinion pieces that enticed people to read and not skim, arranging my stream of thought in a logical flow.  That was how I learnt about exposition without going to writing school. Encouraged by my dad, I read and read and read.

Now a young woman, it is my turn to be Mother Christmas, heaping gratitude and gifts, so my father can continue to read. When we talk, I listen. I listen for it. I listen for the lilt in his voice as I imagine the spark in his eyes, because something he read has transported him as it does me, to lands of possibilities.

As I connect the dots of my life, it becomes clearer and clearer still: my father’s love is different from my mother’s love. Her love is loud and the spotlight magnifies her heartbeat in motion. In the periphery, my father’s heart beats too, at a quiet even pace that masks its fervency.

My dad is the mostly unsung hero who in a time of uncertainty wrote me a letter that has frayed at the ends and torn at the fold. Whether soaring or plummeting, whether laughing or crying, his words have remained with me, reminding me of when I first dared to dream. Reading and rereading the letter through the years, his writing style has become my own.

Happy Father’s Day dad.  Surely, my ink flows in part because of you.

 

© Timi Yeseibo 2013

 

Photo credit: http://www.creationswap.com/LuisGarcia

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.