The plan was to ensure that whilst you are busy building your home to meet certain expectations, you have an eye on the child on the other side of the street- the one who drags himself to school in tattered uniforms with lean slippers, tired eyes and saliva smear by the side of his mouth. He hasn’t had a bath in days. He is an angry child- angry at his mother for denying him breakfast, angry that he is always hungry, angry that his father is never at home to help him with the nagging questions society throws at him, angry that when his father finally arrives by midnight- he comes in smelling of alcohol, shouting and cursing.
He is growing up to be an even angrier teenager. It is not your primary responsibility, yes. You do have your hands full, after all. There are three bubbly kids in your care. You send them to good schools where they teach them how to dance ballet… they watch DSTV in the evenings and read a story or two from the Enid Blyton series.
Nonetheless, you must keep an eye on that angry child on the other side of the street because the happiness you are creating in your own niche might be stolen cruelly by one of those angry children who, out of fear, cannot confront their parents and would easily take out their rage on the next person who represents a system that has failed them.
Your child reminds him of the things he never got (may never get), the things he was denied, the opportunities that never came, places he couldn’t visit; the life he only dreamed of but couldn’t have because his mother had too many children to care for and didn’t have the energy to spread her love equally. Your child reminds him of a life that is far beyond his reach- he would hate that. That angry kid would hate the sight of your happy, fulfilled child.
And in him would rise a burning desire to destroy something in your child; crush his happiness- that happiness that seems to mock him. The happiness he begged to have and was never given.
So your child, now out of tertiary education, gets a befitting job. You sigh out of gratitude and relief; now you can sit back and watch him go into the world, fly up to the sky and bring a piece of the clouds for you to feel. It took you all your life savings to groom this child who makes you so proud.
It took you years and endless hours to teach him about good behaviour, how to treat others, how to create the balance life requires. You taught him about respect, empathy, drive; how to go for what you deserve.
You pour your years of experience inside of him like a bottle of wine into a glass. He has learned to be loyal, kind, civilised. He learns the ropes, acquire the right social skills, etiquettes, appreciates the tough road to success; and you have taught him to sit back during the course of living and get a taste of life.
Then this child of yours is stuck in traffic one day, after a hectic day at work, tired and dying to get home to his bed. He thinks of you- his dear mum. He wants to call and share his day, so he is hoping to get home before you go to bed so he can spoil you with the latest gist in his life… but his thoughts are interrupted by a rattle on his window. He turns and for a moment he thinks it is a tout that would go away eventually; after all it is just past 6pm- what harm can possibly befall him in “broad day light” with hundreds of people stuck in traffic?
He is wrong. The man at his car window gets impatient, he smashes in, robs your son of his valuables… and just for being what he could never be, decided to end the act with a bullet to your son’s head.
Your son is dead. All the years of love and attention and teachings and preparation, ends with a bullet to his head. He is only a few years shy of thirty. He is gone, shot dead by that angry child who was raised wrong- beaten for every mistake, always hungry, neglected, called names, abandoned by a mother, ignored by a father, raised on the streets, no care, no love…
You lose your child because someone else raised theirs wrongly. You cannot blame yourself. Life, like the earth, is round…and ugly.