Peer Review by The Dreamer (South Africa)

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Wavering Hope

By: Chidiogor D-f Nwafor

December is always the coldest and driest month of the year in Nigeria, due to the parching dust bearing land-wind called harmattan. In some other part of the world, December is seen as a period of snows falling and a period to create snowballs or a period to shovel the snows from the road, but here in Nigeria, December is a period for lips to crack and for skins to turn white like they had been bathed with bags of cements. Snows do not fall in Nigeria (I've never experienced snow falling in my entire life).  Instead the whole of the country is covered with mist especially in early mornings. Mist spreads all over the earth like smokes hanging on the sky and this makes it difficult to see what's happening ahead. Everywhere looks dull as dust coats the whole of the earth making everywhere look dirty (but it's not necessarily dirty). Even  flowers lose their beauty because of the dust. In harmattan season, people wear socks on their feet to prevent it from getting dusty. Dust is a major feature of harmattan.
We also wear hoods and head warmers to keep our bodies warm especially in the morning. It's mostly cold in mornings. I love Decembers despite the cracked lips and the cold dry weather. To me, they all contribute in making December a very unique month.
To me, December is a time to rest. It's a time to fall back and relax from the stress of the past eleven months. It's a season for countless celebrations by various organizations. Many social gatherings throw parties on December to bade the year good bye forever (be it a good year or a bad year). It's a period of eating and drinking, and a period of so many visitations from families and friends. Maybe, it's for this reason, people become lazy, even the sun rises late, like it's been forced out and the moon shine dully in the night, like it's tired and weary. Sometimes, the moon refuses to shine. At night in Nigeria, the sky looks like it's weaved up by threads of dust. It becomes grayish and devoid of stars. This makes me think, the heavenly bodies are planning to go on vacation for the holiday (maybe travel) since December is a period of traveling here in Nigeria. I guess it's a period of travelling  because it's the last month of the year. Many families return back to their states to spend the Christmas holiday with their families and relatives. (Nigeria is a big country with thirty six states). My family not exempted. We have also decided to travel to Anambra, the state I'm from, to spend the Christmas holiday.
In anticipation to the traveling, my mum and I went to a boutique to shop for new clothes. It's very essential to shop for clothes on Decembers because traders export the best of clothing materials during this period. December clothings are very unique and of high quality, that's why it's a tradition here in Nigeria to get new clothes (often tagged as Christmas clothes) on December and to get petroleum jelly named Vaseline to apply on the skin, to make the skin less dry and rough. We also apply Vaseline on our lips to protect it from cracking. Even our hairs become dry and strong like sponges. Petroleum jellies and hair creams are very essential on December. It's like that's when it's used in abundance. 
As I tagged along the back of my mother in the boutique, I stared at the hustle and bustle of the marketplace through the window. The market place is often crowded as people troop in and out to purchase foodstuffs, clothing materials and fowls (oh yeah! Fowls. December in this part of the world is a time of slaughtering animals especially fowls to prepare delicious meals.  It's legal here) for Christmas.
I smiled within myself while watching people purchase various items for Christmas. December this year is gonna be wonderful, I thought but then, something tragic and unexpected happened. One morning, during our normal morning devotion, my father got a call from a relative and that was how we got to hear about  the shocking news of my uncle's death. At first, it felt like a dream, a movie, something unreal. I couldn't believe it. I thought if I slept and woke up, everything would fall back in place and it would be a nightmare but I've been sleeping  and waking up to the bitter truth that he's gone forever. The reality of his death keeps dawning on me each day. I still can't accept his death. I've always known he had cancer but I expected him to live longer. It's been three years he was diagnosed with cancer.
My uncle (my Santa Claus), chose to leave us on December, a period of celebration, to an unknown land. I don't know what he expects of us now. I don't know who he wants to decorate the christmas tree now that he's gone. I can still remember how he sang some christmas songs for me and my brothers last christmas. I guess we'd be singing an elegy for him in return The gay and ebullient season of Christmas has become so gloomy and moody in my house because of his death. My father has called off the traveling, so I'm stuck here in Lagos state wondering how my Christmas will be. Will it be joyous and fun like every other Christmas? Or will it be mournful with lips humming an elegy? I'm yet to find out.

Message to Readers

I'd like a genuine feedback dear readers!

Peer Review

I liked the tone, the way you presented your story. It made me feel like I was reading a letter from a dear friend.

December is rough but its still a time of celebration and family. And for you, going home.

I think you could improve the time when you went shopping with your mom. Explain the moment more than explaining it. It would be a great way to make the reader feel that festive feeling.

I was quite satisfied. Though the ending was sad, it was right, it just.... fit! I really liked the ending with a question as well.

You did a great job of sucking me into that enviroment, the country. I felt like I had been there and these were my memories. The personal way in which you wrote it made it even better.

Reviewer Comments

Excellent job!