It is 2050, and I am 32. I am writing you this letter while sitting underneath a mango tree in the Volta Region. There isn’t really anything particularly spectacular about what I am doing, but in 2014, I never would have envisioned myself doing it. I never would have envisioned any event in 2030 in the first place, seeing as how I expected to die at age 27. Well, that’s a twisted version of the truth; I’d expected to have killed myself by any means possible by this time, actually.
Do you remember that discussion? It was a comment I passed on a somewhat random day, either before or between classes, at a time when I was particularly depressed for no particular reason. Of course you don’t remember – it hasn’t happened to you yet. What I said was, and I quote:
“I don’t want to live a life that I don’t want to live.”
It seems unnecessarily paradoxical now, but I assure you that you understood (or will understand) perfectly. So, if there was any hint, in my future, that I was to live the rest of my life in misery, I would not live the rest of my life.
But here I am, now, writing this letter in the shade of a mango tree. You happen to be a greatly significant factor to my present condition, aside from the fact that you are the planter of this mango tree.
As I write, I am addressing the ten-year-old version of yourself. There is no particular reason for this. I just think it would feel weird to address it to your present self, since you are just a little way off, reading a storybook to Artemis. You don’t know me yet, and neither will your ten-year-old self ever read this, but kudos to you if your future self ever manages to get a hold of this.
My dear, you are a weirdo and an outcast, and I mean this in the hardest, most un-sugar-coated way possible. And I say it this way only that it may strike you hard: you will never fit in.
Perhaps ‘outcast’ was a little far from the truth. You’re merely more comfortable being ostracized by the beings you ostracize by making them think they are ostracizing you.
Do not, for one second, regard this as a bad thing. After all, you can’t be depressed – not by my standards, at least. That is, perhaps, the one thing in which I have ever managed to outstrip you. You never have, and never will meet anybody more depressed and/or depressing than I have been. I probably went as far as a suicidal person could ever get to madness without actually performing the action of suicide. The point I am trying to make is that you are not depressed; you are just supremely weird, and that will always be the foundation of my love for you.
Natural weirdness, as both of us know now, is not enough, and is significantly more insignificant without wisdom to accompany it. The first step to wisdom, unfortunately, is realizing that people are very stupid – including yourself. However, when you have finally come to terms with this fact, you will be that much wiser than the rest of them. The next time you notice the stupidity of people, you will be well on your way to Solomon-ness.
Your wisdom, which you will inevitably acquire – I know this because you were wise when I met you – will reveal to you that this is a world of evil and drudgery, and the only path it is taking is straight down. There is, according to prophecy, nothing we can do to prevent that. But do not give up; despair is entirely my job. Yours is to provide the satirical humour that makes me laugh with grave amusement.
In spite of the hopelessness of the universe, we managed to brighten up our own solar systems, and you are the Sun of mine. When you are older, you will begin to become my tangible reassurance that the world is not – at least not completely – beyond saving.
One day, you will tell me that you are the person you are because I made you that way. I will maintain that this is inaccurate, and the reciprocal might be more veritable. You, I believe, were born awesome, and without your influence, I would, as I have mentioned earlier, have killed myself already.
In case you’re curious about what you will be, let me tell you now: you smile often. Your stomach is still flat. Your children love you, but they only laugh at your jokes because they are horrible and absurd, not because they’re funny. And finally, whenever I ask you, “Are you happy?” your response is a smile and a “Yes.”
The last thing I want to tell you is that you are in the prime of your youth, and you will stay there for a very long time, regardless of your age. In fact, you are immortal, with your existence remaining physical as well as stored in ink, and also in bytes, somewhere in cyber-space. You are immortalized in almost everything I write, in some form or the other.
I’ve heard it being said,
“If a writer falls in love with you, you can never die.”
I am a writer.
Make the deduction.