Things began to turn around just before dinner. Phew. That was really close…
The day before, I was proudly taking the bus from the Optimum Health Clinic back to my flat. It was early evening on a Saturday. But because it was December, the sun had set and it was completely dark outside. No matter. I had made it on the bus, and I knew that all I had to do was sit there until it got to Marble Arch. I didn’t even have to worry about the energy draining problem of figuring out which way to walk from the bus stop.
Taking the bus had been a goal since arriving in London in the Spring. I was feeling happy and proud because of my accomplishment! That is, until the bus driver announced that everybody had to get off. They were prematurely terminating the route because Oxford Street was so crowded with Christmas shoppers. Continue reading →
When I first saw it, I think every single hair on my body stood on end. I knew something new and different was happening. I wasn’t sure what. But I really liked it.
I’ve never seen so much and such cool promotion for the Paralympic Games. Maybe it’s a UK thing or perhaps a sign of the times. Or maybe it’s a Channel 4 thing. Whatever the reason, this video gives me serious goosebumps. –Bola Odulate
I found the video online and posted it on my personal Facebook page. None of my friends said anything. Hmmmnnn, was I wrong? I went back to Googling. This time I found an article explaining that Channel 4 was looking to get people to “reassess what they thought the Paralympics is.” Continue reading →
“When I was in school in England, did you ever wonder about me? Whether I liked my school, which subjects I liked, whether I was sick or well, if sick did I know what to do, when my school holidays were, whether I had a place to stay?”
“It never occurred to me,” my mother replied. She was visiting me for the first (and last) time in California.
You would know the secret of death. But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life? Continue reading →
Sefi Atta won the inaugural Wole Soyinka Literature in Africa Prize and is a high school friend. Her latest book is Everything Good Will Come. When we reconnected recently, I learned a few surprising things about her memories of me! In this Forgiveness series, I’ve written about sources of overwhelming stress in my childhood, which I now understand contributed to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. What Sefi wrote about her impressions is reprinted below with her permission. It helped me to understand the stark difference between my inner life and outward appearances, and the value of reconciling the two in order to heal.
The Three Times My Bladder Failed
by Sefi Atta
When I was ten years old I had a piano teacher who hated me – Okay, perhaps she didn’t, but I couldn’t sight read music and this clearly irritated her. She would glare at me as I tried my best to wing it. Continue reading →
I don’t remember why I was walking through the library of my new boarding school in England, with a guitar in my hands. I’ve never known how to play one. It was close to bedtime and there were a few girls from my year sitting in the carrels. Somebody asked me if I played the guitar and I said yes. Then I encouraged everyone to come out and sit around me.
I was the new, 15-year-old girl from Africa. During those first two weeks, I had been mostly quiet while I took in my new surroundings. I can’t say what I was thinking that night. Maybe it was simply time to break my silence. Once everybody was sitting politely in a semicircle around me, I dramatically put one foot up on a chair, took the guitar out of its case, perched it on my knee, and strummed away. Continue reading →
The rumor was that the woman my father married used to be a prostitute. “Look her up,” someone apparently said, giving father a note as he prepared to leave my mother at home and fly to New York. “She’ll show you a good time.” Wink, wink.
I couldn’t care less about race, class, or social status. And anyway, I wonder now about the word “prostitute.” If the person speaking English also speaks Yoruba, perhaps they are referring to another meaning. The Yoruba translation for prostitute is ashewo which also means woman with loose morals. Maybe my father’s set just didn’t like her.
My prejudices generally lie around things like pronouncing nuclear NUKE-U-LAR. I also never got over the guy who put his fork and his knife in his mouth at dinner. I probably didn’t look too good myself as my mouth fell open with food in it! Continue reading →
I listened in horror to my voicemail. Somehow, it had recorded a conversation between my father and a friend of his. The incisions on my tummy had only just become painless in September 2005. But no longer. Apparently, my body couldn’t take listening to less than flattering words from my own parent.
Later his friend tried to justify my dad’s behavior. “Devin” had expressed anger because my father was nowhere to be found while his daughter prepared for, then underwent, major surgery. Father was only reacting to that anger. “At any point in all this, did he ask how I am?” I inquired. Silence. Continue reading →