Weep not, child
Weep not, my darling
With these kisses let me remove your tears,
The ravening clouds shall not be long victorious,
They shall not long possess the sky,
Because…    WALT WHITMAN

My child, I looked at your picture when you were much tender and I cried! I cried not because of your miniature size but because of the gargantuan obstacles ahead of you. I also cried not because of your tender mind but of the mind of those out there demented with wickedness-Who can tell? I cried for your innocence.

Did I cry?
My heart bled! I have come to the realization that I have not been the best of parents to you. I acknowledge I have not fulfilled my role to you as a normal parent should do. I have wronged you. I abused you, I rejected you and yet again I maligned you.

I abused you by giving out your sister at that tender age in marriage. I knew what her fate would be after the old man had taken her away but I neglected it due to the whopping bride price he offered. I knew a time would come after he had taken her away that she would bleed and become unconscious. With her bladder bursted, urine drippling involuntarily and vulvae badly lacerated, she would smell so foul that dogs would run away from her. It’s a terrible malady known as Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF). Forgive my cupidity.

I rejected you by denying you your right- education. I didn’t make schooling worth it because I used the monies meant for your education to pursue and nurture my political ambition. I came to your school and really, I saw. I saw the way your teachers were treated like (demi-humans) beggars by paying them a meagre sum we call salary. I saw the environmental and perhaps psychological condition in which you were learning but I did nothing. Even when your teachers went on industrial action to fight for the quality of education and their pay, I abandoned you by refusing their demand because when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. I deceived them also during my campaign by promising them “Heaven on Earth” but still I did nothing!

I maligned you at home by not listening to your cries. I divorced your mum without thinking of the effect on you. I shunned you whenever you wanted to speak, jumping to a conclusion that children are not worth listening to; oblivious that “Out of the mouth of babes and suckling….” I beat you up whenever you committed any puerile act, expecting too much from you. I must confess, I wasn’t half as composed as you are when I was at your age.

My child, as I kneel before you while you sleep, I remember the kind words you said to me this morning even after walloping you. You said with a smile “My father, you look smart. I am certain your boss will like your presentation today.” True to your words he approved it! Till this day, I keep wondering how you got to know about my presentation. I know the pains I inflicted on you were grave but I implore you to find a “hair-breadth” space in your innocent heart to forgive me.

When you wake up my child, I promise you would not find that man who made you cry, he would be long gone and he’ll never come back. Rather, another who would treat you as you are would come aboard.

Till the next morning my child, …after the night comes the morning.

NB: This is not addressed to anyone in particular but to every parent and the government in general. We all have wronged “the child” in a way by our actions, deeds and statement. Use this day to make a positive impact in their lives because when a child is happy, the world around him also is happy.

•Boris, a 16yr old graduate of Josemaria College, Lagos, wrote in from Festac Town, Lagos.
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