“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 →