by Ayokunle Odekunle
And if you ask me to
Daddy’s gonna buy you a mockingbird
I’mma give you the world
I’mma buy a diamond ring for you
I’mma sing for you
I’ll do anything for you to see you smile
And if that mockingbird don’t sing and that ring don’t shine
I’mma break that birdie’s neck
I’ll go back to the jeweller who sold it to ya
And make him eat every carat don’t fuck with dad- Eminem (Mockingbird)
This has to be one of the sweetest, yet hardest things I have had to write. Okay, hard is not the word. However, the problem is that I have issues penning down my feelings at the moment, perhaps because of my emotions. I wanted to write this last year, the year before and the year before the one before the last but the mojo wasn’t there. If I recollect, I wrote you something like this some years ago, when I was a boy (at the University). This is different, as I write to you as a Man. Writing this to you on my first birthday as a married man and very importantly, the first as an expectant dad fills me with unspeakable joy.
Years and years before you were conceived or before I met your adorable mum, I already had an idea what kind of child you’d be and what you’d look like. Meeting, falling in love and marrying your mum – my wife, sent me running back to the drawing board to reconstruct what you’ll look like and oh my! What I saw was and is still so impressive, owing to how beautiful your mum is. Now listen, it’s not that I am so ugly and all (I am actually cute) but your mum is the epitome of beauty itself. But hey, I am digressing.
You changed my life the very moment your mum told me while we were having a meal of Noodles “Baby, this doesn’t taste like noodles…” and I knew you were in the formation already, lol. I remember waking your mum up from her sleep at 4:30 am to have a very early pregnancy test and she said “Baby, I can’t feel anything. There is nothing here and I am not pregnant”. Still, I convinced her. Seeing the ‘two red lines’ show got me shouting like a crazed goat at 5 am. I could have wept but for some reason, I couldn’t. Driving to work that day, I almost made my car somersault on Eko Bridge as the joy within me made a speed like Sebastian Vettel. That day will never be forgotten.
You see, life is full of ups and downs; bumps everywhere and only a strong person can survive. Just like you survived and won the race to be our special child of the millions of sperm cells who also yearned for the opportunity to come bless us. Life is also about struggling, hustling, fighting tooth and nail for even the simplest of things. Man must sway as that is man’s default way but you must never give way. Life is about competing and fighting, till one fights to save his own life and eventually having to let it go. It is the way of the world.
From my last paragraph, you’d think that people are bad since you have to compete with them and since they must ‘sway’. But I have good news for you: There are still very good people around and you need these people around. However, you must keep your circle very small as the chaff must be separated from the wheat. There’re always going to be drinking partners (Hey, I am not asking you to ‘drink’ like daddy), hanging out partners and there are going to be friends. Friends who stick around like family and your dad has quite a few… Edward, Uche, Demola, Kelvin, Muyiwa, Tobi, Gbenga, Ayobami, Ikemesit, Mani and co (You’ll get to meet these very great people).
Life is also about survival, as I opined earlier. Survival is not just about being able to afford the basics. No. It is about keeping your reputation intact and surviving attacks when the mudslingers come. Key to this is being true to yourself and what you believe in, sticking to what you believe in and not being a turncoat whose opinions are easily influenced by people, money, circumstances or even the fear to be wrong. See, you should never be afraid to stand your ground for whatever you believe in, even if you stand alone. I mean, he who must lead an orchestra must turn his back to the crowd. To be a gladiator, you must be separate from the spectators and spectators are never leaders. Remember that.
Also, money is not everything but it is something. Man strives to make all the money in the world as if it brings happiness but it really doesn’t. You need to find happiness in the very little things of life, things like Family, Friends and so on. I remember telling your mum about a group of bakers who stay close to our house, always working through the night and are always happy. Perhaps, happier than some money bags whose lives are governed by the knack to have more than is necessary, and which eventually leads to untold misery.
Importantly, life is vanity. I am currently listening to a song (Barry at 40) by the Late Sikiru Ayinde Barrister who released the song to commemorate his 40th Birthday. In his heydeys, he was the toast of the society and when one is at that level, one almost always feels a tinge of invincibility and a feeling that one will live forever, but you know what? Time passes fast, everything will wither away. The world is a stage and we are all actors. While we should bear in mind that we are only here on earth temporarily and also remember that people have come and gone, and people will come and go after us, we should strive to make our marks on the indelible sands of time.
The greatest religion on earth is being good to your fellow man, and being religious is never enough. The Rotary 4-way test – “Is it the TRUTH? Is it FAIR to all concerned? Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?” – should be your guiding principles in life. Whatever religion you choose to follow is impotent without these 4 principles. Never forget.
From the first time I heard your heartbeat, we developed this special bond. Watching you wriggle in your mum’s tummy while I sing brings joy to my heart. Hearing you hiccup for minutes non-stop excites me to no end. Your mum and I can’t wait to have you. While we may not be able to give you the world, we’ll try to give you the world as you deserve more than the world for bringing so much happiness into our world.
I gotta go now and make some money but before I go, I must tell you about a club called Arsenal managed by a god called Arsene Wenger. The club is the greatest club in the world and its Manager, Arsene Wenger is the greatest there is. Its fans are also the best. I can’t wait for us to watch Arsenal together so we can sing loud and proud cheering the greatest club ever.
Tottenham Hotspurs are shit and are the enemy. Never forget that.
Love you always
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Ayokunle Odekunle is a Senior Associate at a Top Commercial Law Firm, in Lagos. He tweets from @oddy4real