Dear alien, by Hadiya Aliyu Tilde

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Welcome to our society, the world of paradoxical beings! Here, none of us is special but each of us is unique. Each of us is a blend of unique features, memories, opportunities, experiences and personalities that make us behave and respond to situations in a way only we can. Despite our differences, our world never provided a template for our temperaments. We are common in our diversity.

Alien, you will soon come to notice that as humans, we are uniform in a broad way. We are of different colorful races, beautiful cultures, religions and beliefs. Our world is enveloped in so much loathe and chaos because of these differences. We do not like to remember that black, brown and white skins all cover the same colour of flesh, but we simply dwell in the differences of colour. We do not like to remember that despite our different lifespans, death unites us. We do not like to remember that despite the different sizes of our graves, we will be lying in the same still, unbreathing way in them. We do not like to remember that our different IQ digits are governed by two brains each, no more. These differences did not earn the respect they command, but we respect them nonetheless.

Limit your expectations. The shoulders you will cry on will often be ice-cold. We tend to be good speakers – we offer advices with our lives as reference points, we don’t mind going on for hours about our adventures and heartbreaks – but we are bad listeners. We do not want to be there when you happen to be on a roller-coaster that is riding downwards. We want to hear about the polished secrets of your success, not your loans. We are good at promising to be each other’s shoulder to cry on, but the boredom in our attitude is loud enough when you talk to us about your depression; please be in our company only when you’re a little bit maniac. We will rarely listen to the challenges of your school or workplace, but we will post about your graduation, or appreciate that you earn for yourself. You will learn the hard way the differences among your friends, family and your shrink.

Do not expect positivity when I wrote that humans will like to see your highs and not your lows. Do not misinterpret the phrase. Humans will not want you to be low if it will be a burden to them. Envy is a hungry beast that lives within us, it thrives when fed, and withers when starved. Hands that feed are often bitten. If you are unfortunate enough to be climbing down the ladder of life, you will see those whose hands you have strongly clasped on the way up kicking you down with their legs. More often than not, humans will be empathic towards your woes in public, but rejoice them in private. Beneath our over-flaunted charities and generosity lies a dire need for appreciation and attention. The givers-by-heart exist, but you will only know them by miracle.

We are all a little lost in our grandiosity. We are all entangled in a web of narcissism, no matter how little. We tell others to love themselves, live for themselves, and in the same minute preach selflessness. We live by the statement, ‘me and others’. Extravagant compliments, if ever turned down, will not be turned down heartily. We save fortunes that will not be wholly spent by us, yet we make plans for them. We build charismatic names that will be maintained only by us not benefitting from the fame. We gift less to the poor, and more to the rich. We cheer the accomplished, and criticize the budding. You will have dozens of friends, but it is not a room for you to ask too much. Your demands are inversely proportional to your earned respect.

We were created for paradise, not earth. You will come to learn that fulfilment is rare in our world. We always appreciate better friends, products and partners. Hence the periodic elections, the divorce, the buying and selling of commodities. We hardly strive to make people better, because better people always exist. We abandon failed acquaintances, we renovate homes or move to better ones. This struggle for the better always drives us towards emptier, but nevertheless, more beautiful beginnings. We become nostalgic at the sight of memorable pictures and clips, but we do not want to go back.

Our lives rise and fall. We are unpleasantly beautiful, and beautifully unpleasant. We start from the bottom, when we are held by able hands of the older, fed and nurtured. Then we learn to speak, walk, and learn new things. Then our tongues get so sharp that we talk back at those who raised us. At a certain age, we hit the top. If we hit the top with success, the world will bow at our feet, and we get so lost that we forget that hitting that peak of life happens for a nanosecond, and the rest is all about climbing down. Slowly, we lose everything. If we live long enough, we return back to earth the same way we came, nurtured, fed, unable to walk or speak. See, there is beauty in this lesson that we are yet to master.

If you are to live well, accept this bitter-sweet truth about us, even though we are yet to.

Miss Tilde is an architecture student at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi