John gently raised his head when Dad walked into his room. To Dad, he looked like he was tired of life. He slowly sat up as Dad entered. He couldn’t understand why Dad was in his room. But Dad wasn’t looking angry and that helped calm him down a bit. Dad sat beside him, a moment of silence lingered. Dad couldn’t help but stare at John’s childhood picture on the mini drawer beside John’s bed. He picked it up, looked at it, smiled slightly and dropped it back.
“You know I attempted smoking when I was quite young.”
Dad was gentle, John listened.
“I really didn’t want to do it, but then, my friends would think that I was too dull and wouldn’t want me to continue to be their friends again. But then my grades began to depreciate and luckily for me one of my teachers called me to order. I heard one of them became addicted to drugs and is presently in a psychiatric home now.” John shifted uncomfortably on the bed.
“And if I hadn’t changed from bad ways, I wouldn’t have been able to have a wonderful family and even be able to carter for them.”
He stopped and stared directly at John
“Why did you do it son?” John looked up into Dad’s face in confusion. Then in a very soft tone,
“Why did you make the choice to start smoking at a very young age?”
“I… I don’t know Dad. My friends were doing it and… , I wouldn’t be their friends if I didn’t join them.” John stammered.
“But didn’t you know it was wrong?”
“I… I knew it was wrong Dad but… I didn’t have anybody to talk to. I was afraid of losing my friends. I couldn’t talk to you or Mum and my teachers are always mean; I couldn’t possibly talk to them without getting my friends into trouble.” Dad sighed
“I am really sorry son for not being there for you. But always remember that there are times when you must make decisions on your own. the fact that you are just 14years old does not mean you should not be wise in making tough choices”
“I am sixteen Dad,” John injected, but with a smile. He was already overwhelmed with the way Dad was talking to him.
“sixteen? Wow!” Dad was really surprised. “When did you get to sixteen? My little boy is almost a man,” he said, hitting John lightly on the head.
“We all have conscience son and we always know when we make the right choice. And if you are confused about making any choice, come and talk to me.”
“But you are always at work Dad.”
“I promise you that as from today I will always be there for you to talk to. Don’t worry about my work; I will work out something that will be fair to every one of us.”
“Thanks Dad,” John said, he was deeply glad. Dad stood up and stared at him for some time,
“You know I can’t believe how big you have grown.” John smiled sheepishly. “Do you have a girlfriend?” John looked sharply at Dad,
“No” Dad regarded him for a while, wondering what he was doing with a sachet of condom.
“Girls don’t like me and I am scared of talking to them” John found himself saying.
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“That’s not true; you are a very handsome young man. You see, girls like intelligent and confident men. That’s why you must concentrate on your studies and build your self confidence. All these you can’t achieve by missing classes. Right now your only priorities are your studies. If your friends can’t accept this decision then you leave them. People will respect you more when you make the right choices always. Thank God you were even thinking of protection, but can you handle the consequences? No. it will only succeed in distracting you from your studies.” Dad preached.
“I am sorry Dad,”
“I want to trust you to make the right decision and talk to me when you are confused. I want you to promise me that you will concentrate more on your studies,be a good boy and make better grades this term. Will you do that?”
“Yes Dad, I promise,”John said with a smile. Dad patted his back and left. John felt happy for the first time in a very long time.
WATCH OUT FOR EPISODE 17