By: Alfred Nwankwo ~Online Editor~
In the summer of 2013, I remember the celebratory feast at a Presbyterian church in Albany, Ga., that was propagated as a college send-off for members leaping into the crossroads. I remember the joy and happiness that shone bright in the festive room situated inside the wing of the cathedral.
There were deliberations, recognition of the course that was upon us and prayers for the crossroads that were ensuing. When I leaned back and painted pictures in my mind, I realized that my sensitivity clung onto the idiolect – crossroads, which stood out for me within the holy precincts at that moment in time. My gaze at the word, “crossroads” did not intimidate me so much as the realization that it was not typically present in my own parlance at that point in my life and even more so the fact that it was not a route I traveled often.
Maybe, it was an epiphany considering the vantage point of the cross. Whenever I saw the cross, I have not so much made a stern habit to append it to the big name that is The Church. It meant something personal to me, an unfettered self-sacrifice and a point of undiminished faith in crossing the road even in times of trembling affliction.
When the celebrations were over, the next few weeks in preparation for college were not easy. There were not difficulties with regard to the logistical layouts for college. My siblings were wary of my ambitions to attend a college in the Midwest. Amidst their concerns, the notion of crossroads came back to me. I felt dissuaded. Their concern was that a community college could not only placate my interest in attaining a higher education but could also do so at a lesser cost. The other strand of worry for them was how I would cope in the new environment I was seeking though it was not expressly mentioned. Even in the face of the remonstrations, I felt a visceral urge to heed the path of the crossroads, parts unknown.
It was with this resolve that my mom accompanied me to embark on the strains of a journey to Xavier. It seemed as if my sibs’ cacophony over my departure was the overruling consensus for me to reconsider my journey. On the contrary, the unreserved blessings from my parents ensured I did not look back.
Upon arrival at X, I remember the helter-skelter scramble to settle in. During my first semester, the financial burdens weighed down upon my shoulders, and I eventually went in to resolve them with the Bursar. Financial holds had a bearing on my account and meant that I could not declare a substantive major at the time. I came into college with accounting as a discipline I would pursue, a major prescribed to me by my dad and backed by my family because of its perceived utility. However, the reality at the time was that I was listed as undeclared as a result of the financial restraints on my account. In these moments, mixed messages crept into my mind about the concerns that my siblings foresaw earlier about attending a private institution.
The financial struggle was real in conjunction with the simultaneous struggle of my first college all-nighter. It became obvious to me that the amorphous crossroads that I did not know much about was manifesting itself before my eyes and on my nose, albeit at an infant stage. In subsequent semesters, I would encounter moments of reproach and grief. When I declared English Literature as a substantive major that I passionately wanted to pursue in my junior year, I received a stream of scathing criticism from some members of my family mainly to the effect it would serve on the feasible angle of economic utility.
During the first semester of my senior year, I was dealt a blow by the disheartening message about the passing of one of my dearest uncles, Uncle Ude, from my mother’s village in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. If there is anything I imbibed from his brief physical passage on this planet, it was his philosophy of communal living wherein one lives within one’s modest means with integrity and commitment. Being at a crossroads is a journey situated in the world of lived experience. On behalf of my uncle roaming the universe and burning within me, I leave this message: I plead with every one of you to breathe, endure, never repose hope and build personal resilience – sustaining it through community resilience in the critical moments of now.
Yours Truly and Resiliently,
EZE, An Embattled Musketeer for Life