An open letter to my seventeen year old brother
It’s 4.40 in the morning and you just left my room. You confessed to some dumb business that you’ve been taking part in and I gave you a right verbal bollocking. I’m so disappointed in you and I’m also so furious. At the same time, I’m frustrated because my throat is dry and my voice is raspy but I know all too well that when it comes to breaking through to a stupid, mindless teenager like yourself, there’s really no telling how far I am from the surface. I hope there’s a part of you that’s still uncemented against the world, that somewhere on that bushy head of yours, there’s a soft spot that goes all the way to your core and is still receptive to the well-intentioned naggings of your sister.
A part of you is telling me out of fear for yourself and yet what is that, do I detect a hint of pride in your voice? I’m disgusted by it but mostly because you remind me all too well of the days when I would animatedly recap my misdemeanors to the innocent, receptive eyes of my peers who would only catch up a few years later (but by then tales of their own wayward ways fell on my deaf ears because I was just so over it and I hope you’ll have the same chance of feeling the same boredom because that will mean you’ve emerged victorious over those graffitied days of self-decay).
If you think you’re being sly, I want to remind you that we came from the same manipulative loins of our father. We come from a family where we’re the pioneers in thinking ahead and plan B’s and C’s and D’s are never lacking… but even if you do succeed in outwitting your family, there’s only so much you can do and so far you can go without causing self-damage. At the end of the day, no amount of out-maneuvers can talk you out of doing all the stupid things you need to do before you set yourself straight (or at least I hope you get to that stage).
The first thing I thought of when you told me you had something to tell me was that you’d knocked up some stupid girl or that you’ve been dabbling in drugs. But with a sigh of (my own) relief you assured me it wasn’t so, nothing so tragic, in fact, it turned out to be some sort of lame nerdy geeky shady business that you’ve been partaking in.
Yet it didn’t stop me from running my mouth about how all this is a downward spiral to a darker future because that’s what I do when I feel helpless, I talk and I talk like my words have the ability to fill the rapidly emptying hole that I see in you. I don’t know how to get to you and I don’t know if I should. There’s a disgusted, annoyed part of me that wants to kick you out of my room because I don’t want to know, it’s too soon, those years and your stories reek of the same familiarity of five years ago and I don’t want to see it. Not yet, just let me bask in the peace that is my current life because I barely made it out alive from my old one. But I’m afraid that if I let you go (as I’m prone to doing with people), I’m afraid that when I eventually come to my senses and rush in to save you, I’ll no longer recognize the little boy with puffy cheeks and the big butt that even now as we speak, has already evaporated into mostly thin air.
Do I put you on a tighter leash or do I let you go off on your own? I’m struggling to remember how I got through it and yet something reminds me of how little the impact that words can have on someone whose current and future prospects look so weak. But what do I do? How can I make you see? How can I make you learn?
How do I look you in the eye and tell you “throw away your money and your dodgy business prospects, throw away all your money-making talents, dispense of your ability to squeeze out money everywhere you look” because these hard, tough, broken years of the beginning of the rest of your life, need to be hard and difficult to make sure you emerge strong and capable? How can I make you see that easy money at your age may seem like gold at the end of the rainbow and seem like every other poor 17 year old’s dream but all it does is make you immune to the pay of an honest day’s work? That you’re setting yourself up for disappointment when you emerge in the real world and see what the good guys earn. And if that happens, it’s straight back down to where it all started because like you say “easy money”.
Yes, life is made up of trials and errors but can I trust my little brother to get up after a fall? What if he continues stumbling for the rest of his life? I just can’t.