Reading Diaz

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Today I finished reading Junot Diaz’s This is how you lose her, not particularly mind blowing but interesting all the same. I love the book. The ease with which the story flows mindless of the emotions being provoked; I love easy books. It was an easy, interesting short read.

Disclaimer: There are spoilers involved, do read at your own enlightened risk.

The story is about Yunior, a young Dominican man and a serial cheater going through different experiences in life. Chronicling his family’s move to America, his relationship with his father, his brother’s death(spoiler), his relationship with women and all the ways he lost most of his significant others.

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Lol fave! Such a fish boy

This isn’t really a review. I’d just like to let you know that I finished reading this book, and because I enjoyed Diaz’s work I went on to get The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao by (guess who?) Junot Diaz. I’ll let you know how that goes too.

I discovered This is how you lose her by religiously following Magunga’s story series based on his life but inspired by the book. He titled it This is how else you lose her. I recommend both reads to you. Due to my love for Magunga’s love tale, I went on and read and loved Diaz’s tale. I love streaks like these. Hopefully Oscar Wao doesn’t let me down.

Moral of the story: Don’t cheat on your S.O’s, it never ends well.

Okay?
Okay.

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Reading Diaz

Lekki phase 1

We are slowly driving on the road on a dark rainy night. The best I can tell of our location is Lekki phase 1 because one toll gate has been passed through. Memorizing roads and directions isn’t my thing, unless of course I utilise said roads and directions on a daily basis. There are four of us in the car: The driver, My friend’s mom, my friend and I. The car is quiet after moments of random talk about the rain and whatnot. I haven’t eaten all day, and my stomach has gotten to the stage of being numb – it’s too tired to keep complaining- but my body is weak because really I haven’t eaten all day and it’s 9:27pm.

The night lights on the road give an interesting look to it all. The sudden burst of orange in almost pitch black, save for the break lights on hundred of cars ahead of us and behind us. It’s a slow drag on the road with the continuous pelt of raindrops on the car.
Then there is a noise, an almost scream and the sound of glass breaking. We all turn to a blur of a hand pulling something back in a car, and a figure sprinting away from the car. The best way I can describe the car is it’s a really nice car without plate numbers. A lady sits at the driver seat of the car with a broken passenger seat window, leaning on the passenger seat looking too stunned to do anything else. The driver tells us it was a thief that just attacked her, he says this quite proudly. Happy at the fact that he’s the one that understands how these things happen, and he gets a chance to let us know about this.

Apparently, two guys walked towards her car on both sides with the pretense of cleaning her windows for bara, until they had gained a good view of the contents of her car. Thief 1 on the driver’s side then shatters the driver’s window distracting the lady from thief 2 shattering her passenger window to grab her handbag and phone from her passenger seat. She reacts just in time to retrieve her phone but couldn’t save her bag, as they both run off.
Not everyone is aware of what just happened, but those close enough to see are stunned at the swiftness of the heist and how it happened in our korokoro bare eyes.

The lady sits leaning on the passenger for about five seconds before it registers that the cars ahead of her have moved, and she had cars behind her waiting for her to do the same. She drives forward, and keeps dragging the rest of the way with us.
It sparks a conversation of pity for the young lady, anger at the thieves and disappointment at the other drivers for not running one of the thieves over. In all our ramblings we can’t accurately express what she feels at that moment but my guess is she’s still in shock because, what she just experienced was too big for her to process at that moment while moving in slow traffic on this Lekki road underneath the pouring rain.
Some other drivers chat her up, try to sympathize. At the end of the day, no matter what anyone says at that point she’s still just a young lady driving alone in a really nice car with two broken windows and the clueless rain pouring into her new upholstery, handbag-less and still very much in shock.
We drive on, because we can’t not.

Lekki phase 1

On absences and inconsistency.

I apologize, deeply. My absence from here has been too glaring. I didn’t forget about my blog, life didn’t take over and distract me from writing. On the contrary, daily I’d come on and read blog posts, and try and fail to produce a story. The stories somehow have managed to run dry, like a river in drought. Moreso, the urgency with which I once wrote is no longer as urgent. Writing has become a thing of complacence for me and I wonder why, not really. I understand why. I wrote to overcome a really tough time in my life. A time of heartbreak, life changes, separation and readjustment. Writing was an escape and a fix from/for all that. That’s the reason I feel I’ve been failing at it, because it was a remedy for a sad time. I realize, I can’t write as a remedy if there is nothing to be remedied. Truthfully, this is a happy time for me. So, it makes no sense for me to write to escape when in all reality I should revel in these moments. I’m trying to write to reflect happiness, and joy and blinding light. But I’m learning to do so, and learning takes it’s toll and time. The stories come in stutters and hiccups now, but in due course maybe we’ll experience a surging river of beautiful magic. Hang on for me, my stint as a “writer” isn’t quite over yet.

On absences and inconsistency.

25/12

You wake up with the sound of your sister’s voice sounding slightly annoyed. She tells you that you’re going to have to pay a family visit today, and this pisses you off too. She says it’s your father’s idea and there’s no day better than this to go. You go through the motions dreading the car ride and subsequent sickness that comes from the prolonged journey, driving through Lagos is never a fun idea much less to Ikorodu. You arrive unannounced with the fruit basket hastily put together by your elder sister, with your father leading the way. Your eldest sister is too busy trying to keep up with him while you help the other sister who’s evidently struggling with the weight of the watermelons that were an afterthought in the not-so-big basket.

There’s a lull and then an uproar. Smiling faces and loud laughs from people you’ve successfully avoided for two years coming out to greet you, to lighten your load, to welcome you. The old woman barely upright in her stance greets you wide smiled and almost toothless. She hugs you like her life depends on it, then looking up to see your face, maybe trying to memorize it so the next two years of silence wouldn’t be so hard. She’s aged, obviously but she’s still active. You struggle to communicate with her in your less than half baked Yoruba, with little assistance from your father. She looks at your father, her son and thanks him for bringing you. She laments on the amount of time it has been, how she asked for you constantly. And the disappointment from not hearing back from you. She looks up, arms stretched and thanks God in every manner she can think of. She thanks him from letting her see her grandchildren one last time before she dies. She’s close to tears now, you can hear it in her voice, her gratitude naked and unashamed muttered in her Ijesha dialect. You imagine her mortal sadness if you hadn’t arrived. You don’t need to understand Yoruba to know her pain. It’s funny how the “grand” things you ask for pale in comparison to her anguish to see you maybe for the last time.

She laughs occasionally. She reminds of how she carried you when you were little, but your sisters were too old to allow her carry them so they went around with the house help. She encourages you to eat, just a little for the sake of odun. You hesitantly agree. Your Yoruba fizzles out with nothing left to say, and then you communicate in English to your sisters. She doesn’t understand but she’s content to have you there, to have seen you, touched you, embraced you.

During the ride back home your father will tell you she’s 96 years old and still very agile, how she’s doing well for her age. He’ll tell you what a shame it was that you never met his father, that he too was strong for his age. Although you knew when he was dying and you were so close to it you almost experienced it. You will hear him miss his father and then you’ll kick yourself a little for being angry earlier. He won’t tell you he misses them, he’s too rough edged and grown up for that but you’ll know in all the subtle ways he expresses it. This will be your Christmas; emotionally tiring.

25/12

An ode to the man.

Growing up I’ve always had a lesson teacher/tutor whichever you prefer, to help me through the academic year. And believe me they came in different shapes, sizes and personalities. But the most memorable and probably loved – largely because I spent the bulk of my formative years with him – was my Ghanaian lesson teacher; Mr. Patrick. I don’t mean to exaggerate but he was awesome. He was an awesome teacher, mean flogger, and somewhat friend, and encourager. He was one of those people that never saw a reason to stop believing in you; and by God it got exhausting

Mr. Patrick taught me for 5 years, Nursery 2 – Primary 4. And from nursery 2 – primary 1 I pretty much excelled in school. When I got to primary 2, there was a new girl in class named Rachel. Rachel was smart, very smart and she was Efik. She became my biggest competition in class for the 1st position. I was geared up, I wasn’t ready to relinquish superiority over my home turf to a newbie. It was an interesting fight, the constant struggle for topmost position and the constant disappointment that came from having clinched second. I remember the beginning of every school year, Mr. Patrick and I would sit at the dinning table and discuss our aim, our collective goal and how to get it. It was funny because he’d offer me incentives like money or a new storybook, there was always something to offer just to motivate me.

He’d say “Are we getting the first position this term?

Followed by my very emphatic response “Yes!

As the terms rolled by and the report cards topped with “2nd position” piled up, the eagerness dwindled and the “yes” became a “maybe”, then “hopefully”, then “I don’t know”. But through it all, the quiet conviction behind his question never faded or dwindled. It remained, patient, unwavering and never doubting. At a point I stopped getting disappointed that I came second, but disappointed because I’d let him down once more. In the two years I spent with Rachel as a classmate (I left the school after primary 3), I never did surpass her in class.

I grew up realizing that probably one of the most exhausting things is people’s faith in you, in the fact that you are able most especially when you don’t think you are.

I also grew up to realize that my class teacher in primary 2 and 3 (same person) was tribalistically biased, and that I more than deserved the first place.

I can’t ever forget Mr. Patrick not just because he believed in me, but because he gave me hope when I needed it the most and helped me believe in myself too. Mr. Patrick doesn’t teach me anymore and he isn’t a part of my life anymore but I do miss him, his Ghanaian accent, and his impeccable English.

Sometimes, I’d wish I was still little and I had Mr. Patrick to believe in me once more when I can’t. But then, I’m not little anymore and I have to learn to stop relying on people to help me believe in myself. I have to grow up and be my own Mr. Patrick and exhaust myself with vehement belief even when I just can’t.

An ode to the man.