‘Mom, I want to study Music’ I heard my little brother say from across the room. I unconsciously closed my book as I directed all attention to the ensuing conversation.
My mother took some minutes to regain her composure after such shocking news my brother had so lightly delivered. ‘Why Music?’ My mother finally asked.
‘I love music. I don’t imagine studying any other course. To be honest, nothing else interests me.’ He spoke out of sincerity.
My mom paused for a while before she spoke ‘we’ll discuss this when your dad returns’.
We all knew what that meant. It was never a good thing. It was more like facing a panel of unbreakable opinions. I was quite curious about the end of this news my brother had courageously exposed.
Jide, my little brother was the musician of the family. Everyone knew that. But studying Music as a course? That was a hobby gone too far. I couldn’t help but admire how gutsy he was. I was never so bold to confront my parents about my interests. I was the perfect kid, you may add. Graduated top of my class. Followed dad’s career path of being a Diplomat. I love my job. But then again, I can hardly hide my inclination for fashion designing. The first time I mentioned that to my dad as a kid led to an outburst of laughter I had never heard before. In but a few seconds, he had successfully crushed whatever desires I had of pursuing fashion designing. As I said earlier, I love my job. Or am I just trying to convince myself?
‘Funmi!’ My mother’s voice pierced through my thoughts.
‘Yes mom’ I abruptly responded, following the direction of her voice which led me to their bedroom.
‘What’s wrong with your brother eh? Why does he insist on disappointing us?’ She barely waited for me to close the door before she began her lamentations. I quietly sat beside her on the bed and leant her the listening ears she desperately needed, pending when my dad would return from his conference.
I was a bit confused at my mom’s undisguised displeasure at my brother’s decision. If anything, she was the more liberal one in my family who believed in pursuing one’s dreams. As a successful social worker, she always used herself as an example when it came to the wholehearted pursuit of purpose. So why was this different? Why was mine different? Not like I ever pushed for it seriously. But why was this different? I returned to the issue at hand.
‘Mom, what’s wrong with studying Music?’ I was clearly treading on enemy territory with that question but I just couldn’t help it.
Just as I had expected, she gave me the look. The look that a typical Nigerian mom gives her child who is asking a rather stupid question. She began to voice out her fears on how he would be perceived. The son of an honourable Diplomat turning out to be a musician? After paying so much money for school. She heaved a deep sigh and secured her face in her palms. She was so concerned about the perception that would come our way from the thousand unrelated acquaintances she had. I didn’t know what else to say so I quietly enjoyed the silence.
Although we had lived abroad for well over 10 years owing to dad’s career, my family was still as African as our skin colour. Of course remaining true to who we are is a major plus but often times, traditional thinking such as this leaves me rather frustrated.
I tried to ease my mom out of her fears reminding her of famous musicians who even perform for the presidents and ceremonial heads.
‘Just imagine the honour it would be to see Jide performing at the President’s ball or any elitist party’ I babbled relentlessly. Trust me to see the silver lining behind every cloud, I was known for that.
That seemed to brighten her up a little as she lifted her eyes as though seeing the picture of the future.
‘Our son could become a famous musician ‘ she thought aloud. I nodded in affirmation.
Jide who had been eavesdropping smiled and hugged me as I got out of my mom’s room. I admired his dogged nature and I believed in him.
‘Don’t get too excited. Mom spoke with dad and he said it’s either you go to Julliard or you study something else’ a smirk played across my face because I knew my brother as a hip hop artist who didn’t really appreciate classical.
‘That’s not a problem’ he said with a wink and skedaddled.
I wonder what would have happened if I had taken the leap of faith as he did. If I turned my so-called fashion designing hobby into reality. I can’t start crying over spilled milk jare. It’s too late. Or is it really? Is it ever too late as long when you’re still alive and breathing?
©Mfon Etuk, 2016.
What do you think about the idea of influencing your child’s course of study? (bearing in mind that kids never really know what they want). Would you rather say it’s a way of protecting kids from the disappointments that come with pursuing hobbies? As a parent, would you allow your kid study any course (even when you know it’s not a serious money-maker)? I’d like to hear your thoughts!