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Read Letter


Dear Jack,
Let me intimate you about the life and times of a young man named Flibbertigibbet. Quite a mouthful of a name I agree. Trips up your tongue. And you have to study the pronunciation too. It’s not one of those names you can’t pronounce in rapid fire succession, unless you’re a rapper. To get round the tongue twisting, his friends simply call him “Fli”. I’ll oblige you that honour in this letter.

No one really knows what Fli studied in school, but Fli is everyone’s friend, knows everyone. Fli is involved in everyone’s project idea. If you want to record an album you call Fli. If you want to shoot a music video you call Fli. If you want to stage a fashion show you call Fli. Fli’s everywhere! He seems to have a nebulously defined all encompassing energy and talent for everything. Some say he lacks focus.
It’s been three years after graduation and you can’t really say what Fli does, or where he’s going. No discernible vision or direction. Gets energised but has no omphalos. Fli’s friends are gainfully employed. They work in banks, law firms, industry, consultancies etc. They’re making progress up the corporate ladder. Some are in business, charting their way up… But Fli? He’s a popular kind of guy. An avant garde rendition of life. Never wakes up early.
Fli has patent imagination, and diverse gifts of administration of talent. He has all the time in the world too! In fact Fli is not conscious of time. He’s not in a hurry in life (what’s the rush?)- a forever young kinda dude. It’s almost like Fli lives in an “alternative” universe, a place where time moves slow.
You see in Physics time moves slow on a vehicle at high speed. That means whatever planetary vehicle Fli is on must be moving pretty fast. [I’m talking relativity now. It’s what made Einstein famous]. Of course Fli doesn’t know the laws of Physics. He’s just taking it easy, taking it slow. He’s young!
The thing about relativism is that you’re unaware of how fast your vehicular transportation is unless you use a side mirror. I’m simplifying things a bit. Relativity is not so easy to explain. It says there’s no universal time. That there are different times on objects moving relative to one another. But to the man inside a fast moving vehicle time will seem “constant”, until he looks out the window. It’s like driving a car very fast. If you don’t look sideways at other cars you won’t realise how fast you’re going. It’s why people are shocked when they look at the speedometer on a stretch of lonely highway.
To the man in the car time doesn’t seem to be moving. Everything is in a “constant” state. Again I’m over simplifying things, but you get the idea: there is not one time. Therefore the time on Fli is different from the time on everybody else. His friends are fast, he’s “constant”. Relativity! Fli obviously doesn’t know how fast life is moving. And since Fli is cool in his life car, he doesn’t waste his time watching out for his friends. Can’t be bothered.
Were he watching he’ll have seen Emeka zoom past him. And Gloria too. And John. And Mo. And Garba. They were all classmates in secondary school. And some were born disadvantaged. Indeed Akin’s father died when he was young. His mum brought him up; nonetheless he’s focused. He might also have seen Greg getting an apartment of his own, signifying his rite of passage into manhood. And he might have seen John’s relationship with Mary moving into matrimony. The parents are talking. And at the rate at which Mike is going he’s certainly going to attain silk and become a senior advocate. Of course Tayo is growing her trading business at a clip. She’s just secured a major order. Since Fli lives in an “alternative” universe he’s not aware of all these.
He’s in a world of his own marching to the rhythm of slow music, blues in broad daylight, in the marketplace! He can’t understand why Clara is eminently opposed to him dating her sister. “The guy has no ambition” she keeps shouting. “He’s NFA!”* (*No future ambition). He wasn’t copacetic. But Fli is cool. Has so many “projects” going on; in his head though. Most are just ideas. Who knows which will yield millions! And when he’s rich he’ll make it up to his baby! Take her round the world, live in the best hotels!
It’s not unusual to spot Fli at his friends’ offices during the day, gisting away. Fli has all the gist, very sociable. He’s an ardent Gunner. And he can tell you a lot about Barca, the strategy of Man U, the prospects of Leeds. Kind of reminds you of a famous football fan called Radio NEPA, a fan of NEPA FC. (Does the club still exist by the way?) He could run nonstop commentary on a match with his back to the pitch! Ask your Dad.
Relativity tells us if you fly into space at a certain speed you’ll come back younger than the rest of us. That probably explains why Fli is so young at heart. He’s spaced out. Doesn’t realise time is going. At thirty he thinks he’s twenty. Still using college slang. He’s beginning to look funny with those dangling trousers. Fast forward a few years. One day Fli visits our universe. He discovered that his mates are now much more successful. Many are married, with kids. Some kids are in school. He finds the whole “responsibility” thing strange. Then James’ 2-year old son points at Fli and called him “Uncle”. Fli is shocked! He’s now “uncle”?!
By the time Fli became thirty-eight he still hadn’t figured things out, or sorted out things. His girlfriend- a shambolic subscriber to the tenets of Rastafarianism, dope et al- was badly pregnant. Then Fli turned forty. But he had no apartment of his own. He was “hanging out” in the studio. If only Fli would look out the window. He might have seen a strange bird flying. It’s called Time.
“Ówurö löjÔ is an African aphorism that is difficult to translate without resorting to long-winded prose. The poor English variant of that proverb is, Make hay while the sun shines. And Solomon wrote: Foolish dreamers live in a world of illusion; wise realists plant their feet on the ground. Pro.14.18 MSG. Solomon goes further- “A life fritted away disgusts God; he loves those who run straight for the finish line.” Pro.15.9 MSG.
Focus, my dear Jack. Turns out Flibbertigibbet wasn’t Fli’s real name. An angry old woman spat that at him. You know what “Flibbertigibbet” means? It means a young, frivolous, talkative scatterbrain.
I’ll write you again.
Your mentor, LA.
©Leke Alder 2013

Tags : Focus, Young, Speed

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