Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I read them all, from Chinua Achebe to authors whose names I cannot remember but whose stories stuck with me. Through books, I could leave any problems I had behind and move on to another world. As a child, I devoured Enid Blyton books with such speed that I am sure my parents were a little bit stumped because that meant that they had to go buy me new books. And books were not cheap. At least, not alot of them.
As a pre-teen, I gravitated to romance novels with much gusto. This was partly because I was forbidden to read them and partly because I had out grown my childhood novels and wanted more. It was not enough for me to read about a wishing chair or a tree with a spinning top that took you to faraway lands, or a boy called Eze who was apparently always going to school. I needed more, and then walked into my life the works of many faceless writes under the Mills & Boon banner and Harlequinn Romances. I also discovered historical romances and learned alot about a part of British history through the lives of its royalty and its aspiring ton.
It was around that time that I discovered Judith Mcnaught and Sandra Brown. One of my favourite novels of the former is Once and Always. I heard about the book before I read it. In a class with avid readers by myself, this novel must have regretted being carried through the classroom door. By the time I booked a turn and it got round to me, the book had been split into six parts so that one could read the portions at different times. This was necessary because some girls, bless their hearts, were so slow, there was the temptation to deliver a well placed blow to the side of their heads with the hopes that their eyes and brain would spring to action and expedite their reading. But they were not to be rushed and so the only thing to do was rip the book apart and read that way.
When I moved to the US, I thought I had died and gone to heaven the first time I walked into a Barnes & Noble. My solitude being a secret answer to the fact that even though I socialise well within crowds, I don't like to seek gatherings out or be sought out by them either. So, I read and Barnes & Nobles was an addiction. You could sit in it and read the book without buying though I would not try that now, with the recession and all.
Anyways, I found a brand new copy of Once and Always and rushed to buy it. After having been responsible for the murder of one copy whilst in school, I thought it only fitting that I purchase a copy in honour of the wonderful story that it was and as a form of atonement. The novel was about two young people who have been through so much hurt and pain, come together through coercion to find that they could help each other experience the beauty of love for the rest of their experiences. It was beautiful when I read it and my friends and I memorised some of the scenes to renact and retell to those amongst us who appeared to be allergic to anything that was not made a compulsory read by the curriculum.
I ran home that day, excited out of my mind. Oh, if only my girls were here to see what I had in my hand. To reminisce on those days when we were girls with what we thought were deep issues but what seemed trivial now that we were all in the struggle to build our futures. I hurriedly changed, made a plate of snacks, a drink and settled beneath my cocoon of duvets to read.
It's hard for me to describe what happened next. First, I finished the book in less than three hours, trudging through the plot. It was as if I had to slow my thoughts down to read it. The book was well, cute. It was no longer inspiring. It was no longer breathtaking. Infact, some scenes were now too incredible. I just wanted to grab the heads of some of the characters and smash them together, the way parents sometimes do when siblings are fighting. Long and short, I was bored. I was bored because I was no longer wide eyed and innocent. The realisation was both interesting and melancholy.
The same thing happened yesterday when I bought a combined book of three of Sandra Brown's early works. My first book of hers was about this woman whose identity was mistaken after a fatal plane crash. I almost came to blows over that book--story for another day--and Sandra was cemented in my heart from that day onwards.
I am almost through with the first story---Thank God---and the only reason I am reading it is because the money I bought it with was not stolen, it was earned. So, by all things I hold dear, I will labour through and finish it. I am at the point where I am almost tempted to write to the author and ask her if she is aware that her leading male is borderline on sexual harassment. And the fool has a moustache. Sacrilege! Facial hair on a fantasy male is a no-no....sigh, I guess I should be glad that I am older now.
Cos Once & Always is no longer so.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
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Thursday, September 17, 2009
picture from here
The highlight of my morning is when I get to sit and watch him. He comes on board three stops after mine, is heart stoppingly handsome, smells great and is always impeccably dressed. The first time I saw him, I stared so hard, that I missed my stop. The plus side, I found out where he gets off. We don't always end up in the same car but most of the time, we are on the same train. I know because I make sure I get in the driver's car, so that as we enter the station, I get a chance to scan the platform, to know if he is there. If it is not crowded, on that rare occassion, I will change cars to be in his. Such is my morning's entertainment and secret pleasure.
I know what I do will be considered weird and should he be told, he would definitely run screaming for the hills but I can't seem to help myself. I am inexplicably drawn to him and there is nothing I can do about it. Too shy to approach him and too afraid of a public rejection, I simply sit and watch him; stealing glances at his superbly constructed Asian features.
He is Korean. Enough time spent glaring at his reading material was enough for me to fihgure that out. The text was clearly neither chinese nor japanese and with too few consonants to be Malay or Indonesian. How I know these things is amazing to me too but such is the sort of information I have been able to amass over the years. I just do.
When I can't stare directly at him because he has either chosen a seat facing me directly or I am in another car, I comfort myself with the fantasy, with my eyes closed, of what I wished our relationship would be. So many times in my mind, we have bumped into each other outside of the station and he surprises me by remembering my face. Other times, we end up seated by each other and the metro operator helps us out by stalling the train. He will smile at me in greeting and I would give him what I imagine to be a shy response. Because I am listening to my Ipod, I would hum softly a tune which I hope he knows because it is the only Korean song I have. I have Chinese, Indian, Japanese and even some Thai but only one Korean song and that will be the one Korean pop song out of all the millions that exist that he would just happen to know. He will steal glances at me in surprise and one way or the other, we will begin conversating. By the time, the train restarts, we should have covered the basics....
Someone stepped on my foot as the last batch of commuters boarded the train.
"Excuse me, I am sorry," someone said
I opened my eyes and nearky screamed. It was him.
He motioned to the empty seat beside me and I was able to snap my brain into function and move my huge bag off so he could sit.
He smelled like heaven and yet all I could do was hold my breath.
Why today of all days when my hair is a hot mess, would he sit next to me?
The gods are always having a laugh at my expense
Aaaah, my wierd African friend. Her hair's interesting today.
Always sitting with her eyes closed. The music she listens to must be calming because her face is always peaceful.
She smells nice too.
God give me the strength to ask her name.
She would probably scream if I told her that I take a later train every morning because I hope she will be on it.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
The main reason I never desired to live in New York--even though over the years I would entertain the idea after a well enjoyed movie set in the bustling city--was the cold. I had learned very early that the temperature drop in the Big Apple could be alarmingly severe, so I blanked that city as a potential place to live. There was also the fact that the cost of living could make your heart stop. All these thoughts were brushed aside when I had to make a quick and unexpected trip to this much talked and fantasised about city to attend the Arise Africa Fashion as part of the annual Fall season Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.
I raided my aunt's purse for money to make the trip, packed an overnight suitcase, rushed down to Bethesda to take the Tripperbus, on which I was the only black person on the bus besides the driver and ironically was seated at the back of the bus, and began my four hour sojourn to the city. The trip was pleasant and uneventful--
I digress: One of the things I always loved about living in Nigeria was the option to travel. Through travel, I was able to experience the complex and beautiful land that is my fatherland. As you passed through each town, the terrain would change, the people would evolve, the sights, smells and colours would mesmerize. Then there was the "buka" food at the various rest stops--if you were going by public transport--or the toll-gate shopping. I loved it all and could not get enough of it.
--there was nothing to look at on the drive from DC to New York. I mostly slept and tried to keep an hourly account or observation of my trip on my HP Vista laptop that faithfully failed to connect with the available wireless connection provided on the bus whilst everyone around me was able to.
When I got to New York, I stepped off the bus and the first thought that popped into my head was "This is like DC on crack." First of all, it was raining and it seemed like everyone was running somewhere, wet and neurotic. I bumped into so many people and apologised but they were so busy hurrying along, they did not respond.
Then it happened, I had to go meet up with a friend who was allowing me to come over, change in her place, leave my stuff while I attended the show--I was going to be spending the night with a cousin I had not seen in years--and rest a while. The catcher, I had to ride the New York Subway.
It is the dirtiest thing you have ever seen. It was like Ojuelegba bus stop with electricity. It was dank, outdated and smelly. The entrance was narrow and there were no escalators for people with suitcases or elevators for the handicapped. There was no one to ask, no maps on the trains to check where you were or where you were going and I got on at rush hour so everyone and their mama was on it. Thankfully, there were people whom I asked for directions who told me exactly where to get off and how to go.
It was at that moment, I realised that I loved DC. I had been so unkind to my resident state that I had overlooked how much good stuff we had. I use the metro all the time and cannot imagine what I would do if I it looked like the one in New York. Maybe, I would be used to it and not be so bothered...
I attended the show. It was beautiful. I am looking forward to the day when everything in my wardrobe is completely African. From my lingerie, make up to hair extensions. The show started late but it went so fast that it was over at the time i expected it to be. I could not take good pictures because my camera's zoom was not that strong and since I was standing--got a free ticket--I could not get that good a view.
Highlights: Tiffany Amber's collection and Eric Raisina's collection. Oluchi was on the runway and so was
I had fun. Got a taste of the city and realise that if I am to live there, I want a nice, clean uptown neighbourhood....and a car.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Saturday, September 05, 2009
Thursday, September 03, 2009
She moved like her life depended on it and maybe it did because she knew that if she were to stop, following the rhythms of the guitar, she might die. She turned this way and that, bending her skirt with a furor that was only matched by the staccato of her feet.
A tear rolled down one cheek and then another and then another and then another. She wept, swept away by her private grief. I watched her, wrapped up in mine.
She wept for her lover, departed, returned to the cloying hands of the earth. His farewell unattended as it was not a place where she was welcome even though at his side, she had been for almost a decade.
She turned this way and that, her fingers curved, wrists flicking back and forth with fierce precision, her face a wet mask of agony. Bathed in the soft, poor light of the stage, her form silhouetted against a wall whose paint had been worn away by years of smoke, sweaty bodies and forgotten dreams.
I loved her, this beautiful dark dancer. She would never be mine. I was only the girl who would hold her while she mourned for the one to whom she had given herself