so i tripped into 26…

I had a bit of truffles on the eve of my 26th, got in bed and begun playing Little Women on Netflix while switching through the various social media apps on my phone. About half an hour in, I was full on having a giggling fit at everything and the weird part was there was tears streaming down my face, not because I had laughed particularly hard but the the tears simply accompanied the laughter like lightening and thunder.

F. visited and somewhere along the lines of our conversation I got triggered, went silent, attempted to explain myself, got a response I was not expecting, got triggered again, and then the tears increased in momentum.

There I was, tears silently streaming down my face in the dark and trying to explain why I was in my feels. They claim truffles are akin to truth serums and they didn’t lie lol. Anyway, while I was explaining, although I didn’t go into too much details, it honestly felt like I was crying it away. Each tear made me feel lighter and more relieved.

My life has been for the most part, not to be dramatic or anything, but one sort of trauma piled on from childhood. That baggage was weighing me down after 25 years and in that moment, I thought to myself even if it was just for the duration of the trip, I would take it lol. But interestingly, I think it has carried on. I realised, beyond that moment of childhood traumatic release, that the root causes of most of my anxiety triggers are rather inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. I may be lucky enough to see 26 but it is not guaranteed I will not be around for long. It seemsed rather like folly holding on to them and letting them dictate the decisions I make in life, like I will go collect some awards after death or something. Cue NAO’s Fool To Love.

So yeah, it was not an extreme visual hallucination induced trip but it is said to bring out issues you might be suppressing and I guess that was it for me. I am low-key big on symbolism and since the past few weeks I have been thinking of how the Phoenix dies and is reborn. Like yeah, I done been through the fire and this is me being revived, second go at this thing called life, hoping to soar and not crash and burn this time.

P.S: I am not endorsing the use of drugs y’all, it’s legal in my country of residence so yeah, just my experience being put out there and proceed at your own risk. Check like disclaimer dey need for this matter lool.

I don’t know if I am particularly audacious now but I woke up on my birthday feeling rather strongly that there is no need to placate the emotions of others when they refuse to acknowledge and deliberately ignore my boundaries. Being my birthday, I knew the matriarch would bring up the issue of marriage and childbirth which irritates me on a good day and even more so on my birthday. I decided rather than putting her down softly, this time I would make sure she understands not to mention it again. Cannot be planning my life for me unprovoked like that.

True to form, she video called and after wishing me well, delved into, “adze kor a woaka ne dɛ Nyame bɛ ma awar na awo mba.”

To which I sweetly smiled and responded with, “ɔno dze ɛne Nyame nkasa osiandɛ m’aka dadaw dɛ me mpɛ awar anaa mba.”

“Ntsi ɛre pɛ akyerɛ dɛ enwar nwo da? Dɛm na ɛpɛ?”, she asked and so I ranted about how my autonomy needs to be respected regardless of her choice to have kids. Birthing me does not automatically mean I need to birth others. Especially seeing as I was not part of the decision making process that brought me on earth, which has been a shit show for the most part (okay I did not say this because how does one say shit show in Mfantse?). At least I get to spare some other human the misery the world has to offer and I will not be shamed for it or coerced into altering my mind. She did try countering with she meant I know what I want as per academically and professionally but personal life deɛ she dey expect say I for marry den born.

Anyway that topic ended with a, “Nyame nhyira w’ano.” And I agreed because no husband and no kids from my lips to God’s ears? Afuckingmen.

The average life expectancy of Ghanaian women is ~64 years which is ~39 percent of the time I have done so far on earth. I am likely to die before I even hit retirement so like yeah, enough with the fear and self sabotaging and kowtowing to superiors. From here on out, it’s really going to be full on centering myself and loving myself hard to always put me first be it in interpersonal situations with family, friends or colleagues.

Baby girl for life but your bitch is also a big woman now so like yeah, we for align and all. Just hoping the year doesn’t deal me cards I will be ill equipped to utilise because a bitch has suffered already la and at this point I hope the universe agrees with me when I say I deserve some kindness and softness along with plenty prosperity. So mote it be.

E do a e dey bore me say I dey feel you so

Na I figure say e no go source o

Sake of e check like I no dey your league

No be say notin give me but chale your level dieer no be here koraa

If e no be my paddy wey she give me vim say make I try a

Like I still dey feel you for my head inside

So I shun dey shy wey I text you say I dey want talk plus you

Wey you too you say your eye dey den we chat saa

I see your name for my phone top noorh all my thirty two for start displaying

Wey my body inners dey do like gbiligbili barb me

Na I tink sey I no go feel like this again o

Sake of life do me basaa before

But you dey make my head scatter wey my heart no fit stop dey do tungba

I dey feel you die but more times too a e dey bore me say I dey feel you so

window

I have always been drawn to windows. I like to think of them as a portal into the outside world for me most of the time and also for external elements such as light and sound to wade in and out. I have always been one to draw back curtains and observe people carrying on with their activities through windows on buildings or while in moving vehicles. I pretty much developed an interest in people watching which I promise is not creepy voyeurism. 

My family moved around a bit and I have fond memories of most places we stayed. I was born in Takoradi, and from what I understand, we lived at Beach Road, Windy Ridge, Pipeano and West Tanokrom at one point or other within my first couple years on earth. I do not recall much of my time back then, it would be odd recollecting memories from back then if not impossible. We moved to Accra and first resided at Bubuashie. There is a bit of fuzz in there because adjusting to the move was difficult for me, I missed my mum who had stayed behind in Takoradi for a bit. The only memories I can recall of the first two places in Bubuashie are mostly of dimly lit rooms which heavily depressed me further. But then mum joined us eventually and we moved out to a bit more spacious flat on the ground floor of a single storey building at North Kaneshie. My favourite spot then was the garage which was a make-shift salon for my mum. On hot days, I would lay on the floor and sing along to the Peace FM jingle. It was bliss to me at the age of five but it was also the genesis of my fear of men and the dark. There was a guy with the family upstairs who owned the flat and he was in an affair with our domestic help. She and I shared a bed, which was positioned just beneath a window. He would sometimes come by late at night and call out to her from behind the window. 

We moved somewhere along the Spintex Road just around the start of the new millennium with flowers in front and crops in the backyard. There was not much to see but the plants from this location but sounds from our neighbours would carry so we knew, via what streamed in through the windows, which of our friends was home and invited them over. Then came Nungua, with my little sister settling into being a toddler and becoming bosom buddies with our neighbours. She would legit open the backdoor to visit them first thing in the morning and we just had to draw back the curtains and open the louvres to keep an eye on her. Our neighbours also sold oranges out front. The set up for the stall was close to the junction where my mum’s new salon was across the road from our home and the stop for taxis. The windows in the front of that building served a multiple purpose function of sorts at the time as it gave us a prime view on the rents and their movements. One would do well to finish up their tasks once kyɛnkyɛnma, as we had affectionately nicknamed my dad’s pick up, was spotted outside. The call out was, “Opana reba o!” Then the countdown began.  

I had been mildly interested in bread for the most part of my life. I did not necessarily care for it because we did a lot of porridges at home and accompanying them with bread felt too heavy. But then I relocated to Takoradi in ‘06 and my new neighbour this time was also a bakery. With my window directly adjacent the building the magic happened. The smell of fresh bread would waft through my bedroom window as early as 03:00 sometimes, the various aromas pulling me out of my sleep and giving me an acute case of nketsenketse. The sweet sticky aroma of sugar bread or the buttery goodness of butter bread were so distinct and appealing I did not mind the usual cacophony of clanking baking pans as the bakers went about their business. I would lull myself back to sleep with thoughts of the bread either myself or cousin would go get at daybreak for breakfast before school. Bread featured heavily in my dreams back then too, if we are keeping it a buck. 

Later came boarding school where I was one of the first freshers to arrive in my dorm. My house prefect asked me to pick a bed and I went for one next to a window with the thought that thirty girls in a room would mean lots of swelteringly hot nights and perhaps I could get spared ever slightly with the occasional breeze or two. I had lacked the foresight at the time to realise that position would come with the added responsibility of having to clean the louvres before general inspection every Saturday. 

I tend to love a good quote and, “the eyes are the windows to the soul” is a good old one. I have grown to enjoy looking people in the eyes when talking to them, as unnerving of an activity that may be. I like to think I can read them and when their eyes glisten with a flicker of light against their pupils just so, highlighting their truth, the joy, the faith in themselves and what they say. Ideally I would like to continue being invited in, bonding and understanding but I hope they never attempt to broach my windows, perhaps a little nudge may be permitted. Not all windows need to be open after all. 

lost my virginity…

I have inevitably been heavily influenced by early 00s pop culture, having grown up as a 90s kid. I knew I wanted a navel piercing and tattoo at age five, years before I would even figure out what academic interests to pursue post jss.

Navel piercing got done approximately fifteen years later and was followed closely by a couple more on my ears. But tattoo was still an idea I flirted with occasionally because I was terrified of making a commitment I would regret.

I was convinced I wanted text inked on but my first inquiry dissipated my excitement some. I would not be able to get the font size I preferred because there’s the risk of it not being legible a few years ahead.

I held on to my disappointment for a few years but decided I would love whatever font because it’s the text that matters, not necessarily the aesthetics. So, I set an appointment only to have cold feet immediately after but the deposit had been paid and slot confirmed for the next day.

With hours to go, I decided to change the design from text to an image with symbolic meaning to me. Yeah, tattoos are just that, tattoos, but so what if I want to attach more meaning than necessary to it? I get to live with it for however long I’ll be around for so might as well 🤷🏾.

The initial phrase I wanted was a line from a poem in Questions for Ada by Ijeoma Umebinyuo, “tell the darkness I did not die“. This line hit me smack in the chest when I first read it at a time when I was going through it proper and had no idea what my next steps would be. I figured if I survived that period, I would get that inked on as a reminder of my tenacity.

But then also I’m generally sentimental and appreciative of symbolism. I have always been drawn to the moon and water bodies (astrologically, I’m a water sign so I guess no surprise there.)

One of my sisters first taught me that the moon reflects light from the sun and does not actually generate it’s own. However, it’s visibility depended on the phases it transitions through which quantifies time.

Going to the beach on Sundays became the norm for my sisters and I when we stayed in Takoradi and it was interesting observing the behavior of the tides in conjunction with the moon’s phases.

I decided I would be less likely to hate a minimalist design of two natural elements of my choosing as opposed to settling for a font type and size I wasn’t fully sold one.

Design process started off with my poorly artistic rendition of how I envisioned it:

Then I went scouring the internet for inspiration and came up with this which I emailed to the artist five hours prior to our appointment:

I was excited to see what he would make of it and squealed with delight when he showed me this on arrival:

All set to go, I decided on my inner arm just under my elbow crease over my inner wrist to house this design. We were all done about four songs into a Rihanna playlist with her crooning “feels so good being bad” just as we wrapped up:

I am obsessed with it 😍.

The moon and ocean are pretty much the OG ying and yang. Pushing and pulling constantly. Like a flirtatious dance with cycles.

I went with a waxing crescent because it is the moon’s first step towards fullness, a sign of growth. Waves to represent the storms of life yet it’s comforting effect on me. E do a more times pain dey hia so we go transform and grow to move on comfortably and confidently in this world.

Tattoos aren’t always meant to be meaningful but I’m glad my first is basically representative of my life philosophy.

Pain wise, it was nothing but an irritating pricking sensation you kinda get used to after the first couple of minutes in. The artist constantly wiping away ink also helps relieve discomfort because it kinda gives your skin micro breaks in between. But overall, negligible yet somewhat enjoyable amount of pain (could be that I have a high pain tolerance so take that with a grain of salt.)

It looks like it’s healing nicely; not sure my mum’s disappointment will heal just as well but YOLO, lol, and cheers to semi impulsive artistic expressions aligned with complete body autonomy 🥂.

There is a Global Anti-Blackness Issue and Europe’s Silence is Deafening

The murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis sparked global outrage and protests across the globe with one chant, “Black Lives Matter”. 

This is not the first act of brutality against a Black person in the United States, nor anywhere else in the world. It has been years of kidnapping, murder, discrimination, redlining and so many other absurdities perpetuated against Black people, which started on the continent of Africa with Europeans as the main perpetrators.

From Sweden to Denmark, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Germany, France, Belgium and the United Kingdom, to name a few, these States masterminded the present day anti-blackness campaign but at present have washed their hands off accountability and prance around as the bastion of human rights advocacy. Following centuries of looting, pillaging and presenting theory with organised religion as proof of White Supremacy, these States now sit back silently as their devil spawn, the United States of America, carry on with their legacy.

Anti-Blackness was so ingrained and normalised by Europeans that other States picked up on it and ran with it. Demonstrated by the glaring response to events in Germany in comparison to colonialism on the continent of Africa. Not to play the oppression card but the harm meted out to Jews, spread over the duration of the Second World War, received more contrition and apologies with other States fighting to end their oppression, in contrast to the decades of oppression meted out to Africans on their soil. Because they saw the humanity of Jews, to them there was no distinction between themselves as allies and the other people of the Book. So speak to Belgians today about the crimes committed by Leopold and they will deny that ever happened, Swedes will also glaringly lie about their colonial past and the Dutch will be adamant that their Zwarte Piet nonsense is in no way linked to their colonial history and ownership of slaves as if the Dutch Antilles and Suriname do not exist, as if they did not have the head of Badu Bonsu II on display in one of their museums for years because he had the audacity to fight Dutch soldiers who kept taking slaves from then Gold Coast. 

Where the process of decolonisation was a struggle and basically illegal for Africans wanting to take back their autonomy which had been unjustly stripped off them for centuries and various political leaders murdered, Jews got land given to them, through the disposition of Palestinians from their own land with the help of allies once again. Then to top it off, Africans saw their wealth moved along to the shores of Europe when we demanded self-governance. How on earth is that fair? How on earth did the international community look on silently as we were robbed in broad daylight once again but with the title of independence thrown at us as appeasement? There are reserves of gold in the Dutch national bank from present day Ghana which they claim as theirs. Same in the United Kingdom along with cultural items of importance to us. We have been stripped of so much and yet we still have not been given back what rightfully belongs to us.

Is it really any wonder how the condescension from Europe towards Africa still persists? When they had perceived us as lower than humans for years? Where was their conscience then? Even if they did lack one at the time, in light of their moral awakening, why has there not been a reckoning? How do we constantly acknowledge the injustices towards Jews yet not a nod is given in recognition of the harm done and still being meted out to Africans? 

Educational materials in Europe are stripped bare of the truth of our shared past. The human zoos, the inhumane treatment given to indigenous people back under colonial rule, the indiscriminate murders, stripping us of our culture and beliefs, ingraining in us that we had to aspire to whiteness to be accepted, the sheer monstrosity of psychological and generational trauma caused, are all non-existent in their history books. How do we expect growth and development to happen if the perpetrators of said violence do not own up, apologise, and pay back for the harm caused? Is it the paltry scholarship funds allocated to select few individuals that are supposed to make up for it? Or the developmental aid provided with nifty clauses which still have African states under their thumbs and with absurd payment terms and conditions? Or the never ending exploitation of resources while dumping their products on us ensuring we never truly attain self-sufficiency because they are threatened by our potential? Or the fact that there is still a tax Francophone African States for taking back freedom as France does?

Europe has had the blood of Black people on its hands for a very long time and they do not get to choose to wipe them clean and pretend they did nothing. The United States is what Europe designed, it is their descendants holding on to the harmful and archaic theories that to be treated better one must be white otherwise forget about it. And yet Europe stays silent. 

We demand redress. We demand official recognition for the harm caused. We demand reparations. We demand that Europe, for once, grows the balls to apologise and re-educate itself on its dark history. Continuously ignoring our pain and still maintaining a sense of superiority after centuries is nothing but a spit in the face to Black people the world over and we are saying enough. 

It is time for Europe to condemn its past, to condemn the United States and to make up for the years of stealing, killing and other abominable acts they have engaged in. There will never be peace in any shape or form until we start at the root of the issue.

Black lives have always mattered and will matter for infinity but to get to the point of usurping structural racism, Europe must speak up now and own up to their shit and give up the performative reaction. We demand genuine accountability now.

choke on our rage

I am incensed. With everything happening, with all that has been happening. Things which should have never been to begin with. Things which could have been resolved eons ago. Yet here we are, still going through the motions.

I am still obliged to maintain civility in the face of it all. My waking moments are filled with trauma on the daily, but I cannot let my anger out. “Remember to keep it in check”, I remind myself constantly. Having always been hesitant to explode even in righteousness. Because I want to communicate and be heard. My righteous anger, as just as it may be, still does not afford me the luxury of publicly displaying it without the nagging thought at the back of my mind that, what if i am shunned and shut down because as just “another angry black woman”?

I am slowly telling myself it is alright to demonstrate my frustrations at everything. Why do I need to be burdened with the feelings of the recipient when it is likely they are part of the larger group oppressing me and others like me? I cannot suffer the pain of inhumane treatment, discrimination, sexual assualt and abuse and the endless list of grievances and then have my reaction subdued. The peculiarity of that expectation from abusers will always leave me baffled. Why and how do you get to live comfortably when I am left with the sum of the harm perpetuated on me to bear?

There are times when words fail me in this language imposed on me and then I run to the comfort of my mother tongue. So I attempted writing the below which came to me in a fit of a anger when I got on twitter: 

Ndɛ mosoɛree

Bɔgya rosu wɔ famu

Me nua banyin kor aka beebi

Ndɛ mosoɛree

Bɔgya hyew agu famu

Wɔato me nua basia mbɔndar

Asan ekun aka ho

Ndɛ mosoɛree

Me nyinsuwa kuruwa ayɛ ma

Me ndze ayew

Moroko ama me nuanom mbanyinfo enya hɔn fahodzi

Na hɔn nso regye medze kakra a mowɔ

Ndɛ mosoɛree

Me honam abrɛ

M’ahom retsew

Meyɛ basia

Meyɛ basia bibinyi

Na ndɛ mosoɛree

Megye ahom a, ɔnnyɛ yie

Ndɛ mosoɛree

Megye mo ho a, ɔnngye

Annhwɛ a ɔkyena meda a, monnsoɛr bio

Minnyim sɛ mo nua anaa hɛn tanfo

Na ɔbɛgye me nkwa efi me nsa mu

                                                              * * * 

I have sisters who have been abused by men.

My friends have stories to share, albeit in whispers because sometimes we’re just not sure, you know. Are we overthinking and overreacting? Was it as horrible as our brains recall?

I have had moments of confusion, fear and instances where I walked away berating my body for feeling like I had been an accomplice to it being violated. I have had? Scratch that, it has been a constant all my life.

I recall a friend of my mum’s banging on our door one evening. She looked disheveled and distraught. She pleaded with my mother to give her shelter for the night at least. She would figure out accommodation later but just for that night she could not bear to stay at home with her partner. He had beat her and followed her to ours and beat her some more.

When everyone had retreated inside and he’d left, I noticed red droplets on the floor and whispered questioningly to my sisters if the lady had been bleeding. I felt sad for her. I felt her fear. After he left, I felt rage I could not articulate. I must have been nine or ten at the time.

I have had to see women close to me, or otherwise acquainted, get treated like they were subhuman by their partners all my life. Yet still they are expected to maintain a smile and work at building a home – ensure the kids they both birthed are healthy, have warm meals on demand even when the bread winner isnt exaclty winning any, ensure their vaginas are readily available for a fuck whenever with no consideration whatsoever regarded for their wellbeing. 

I have always known men to be violent and unkind and they prove me right every other second, almost as if to serve as a reminder when I begin empathising with them that trash is what they will always be.

I am unable to separate my very personhood from interactions in society. And I refuse to bottle discomfort at the expense of the oppressor’s peace of mind. I will no longer stifle myself to accommodate mediocre attempts at accepting me for who I am. I do get to be sentimental. I am allowed to be that and more when I am plagued with heart wrenching news from East to West.

If it isn’t a black child committing suicide due to bullying from white kids,

It’s a black woman being harrassed, sexually abused and shut down either by black men or white people

If not that, it’s a black girl being stripped of her right to education, innocence and joys of childhood, given away to predators to continuously abuse them under the legal cover of marital rape – results of policies implemented by men

And when they fight back, they get murdered

Or a queer black person being treated like an anomaly; shunned and hurt in myraid ways… 

The attacks on us is endless and it really fucking hurts that most time it comes from kin. But all skinfolk ain’t kinfolk, right?

Because when these same perpetrators of violence turn around and get taken away from us, it is these very same people they vilify and abuse who shake systems down, demanding accountability and justice.

Every single time.

As at now when it seems the winds of change are moving across the globe, these stories still persist. People like myself are still having to endure various forms of maltreatment. I really cannot take it anymore. 

I am bitter, angry, frustrated, sad, at times defeated.

I am also hopeful, passionate and resolute in the belief that this too shall pass. It is abhorrent that we need to shed blood to get to our desired goal and all I look forward to is an elongated moment of peace sooner rather than later. 

And in the meantime, I will be as brash and hella big mad until I drop.

Fuck it all up in honour of the victims whose stories I have heard since as long as I can remember and those who didnt get to have their voices and names amplified. They deserved better. We deserve better. And we owe it to those yet to come to give them a much healthy society to live in.

***Resources here if you’re so inclined to support movements as we all make sense of our present state.***

bland…

they celebrated your emancipation

made your joy theirs

paid pilgrimage to your shores

Black bodies free

on their land

was it not glorious

settling 

the soil, like home beneath their feet

sirens sing on their land 

and you dare 

mock those who commiserate 

how did your soul 

get as bland as the oppressor… 

but chale, dem dey do some show bi laidat for W.E.B du Bois Centre

make we go? 

Hey Queen!

I just finished reading Queenie by the brilliant Candice Carty-Williams and it was such a well told story with so much candor and very relatable. I generally don’t do book reviews and I won’t say this is one but for a 25 year old black girl going on 26, this book hit somewhat close to home which made me uncomfortable at certain moments because of the striking similarities. In that sense, I appreciate the story being up to the times and expressing our current realities as frankly yet tenderly as possible so I thought why not put down my thoughts about it?

Granted, I started off annoyed at Queenie’s pining and whining for Tom after the break which was clearly a break up. I was particularly annoyed at her friends who seemingly encouraged her and more or less prodded her on to using promiscuity as a release (definitely no judgement). Okay, that may be somewhat unfair because they did warn her, albeit rather gently and still let her have her way because well she is an adult and ultimately responsible for herself. 

But my goodness, what friends! Darcy is an absolute ace and Kyazike is that one friend you absolutely need to have in your corner as a Black Woman. As in yeah you have friends but the one who understands your lived experiences as well in this society where just existing feels so taxing. That one you can share certain things with because although you are both Blacks speaking English, your roots are different yet speak in a language only you both understand for comfort. Cassandra…well, the least said the better. I will say though, Queenie was way too generous in getting her a seat at the table after the shit she pulled but I guess that’s what they call growth or whatever (yes, I know I get emotionally invested in books, please allow). I’ll know once I’m able to afford a Janet but until then, I maintain she was a rather appalling friend and yes, I can rationalise her decision to follow Guy at that moment but really sis, really? Which takes me back to my point about Kyazike being the friend we need because my good sis sniffed out Cass from the very start smh.

Anyway, life out here where you stick out every time as an other can get exhausting no matter how much you try to, or do actually assimilate, friends are absolutely necessary in maintaining your sanity. Darcy and Kyazike pulled through for her so beautifully. I legit let out a, “finally!” when Darcy reminded her how rather basic Tom was and didn’t do much for her. Girl, you could have said that before the self-destruction but okay cool. 

Yeah, Tom did not need to be harrassed by Queenie like that after the break but also wow Tom, you let your family be racist to your partner and then make her out to be problematic for reacting? Trash. Their relationship in general was unhealthy and yet I understand her latching on when she had to let go. It be like that sometimes.

That said though, I’m upset Queenie actually put up with his racist uncle for that long. See yeah, smiles and home visits won’t ever make these people defend your humanity when needed. They’ll kiki and love up on you yet expect you to be okay with being dehumanised because decorum and propriety. As someone who has never been in an interracial relationship, I cannot speak much on their dynamics but one thing I do know for sure is it could never be me. Fuck that shit, whatever your race may be as a partner, just don’t let them get disrespected by your family and expect them to be okay with it in the name of love. 

Actually yeah, all the men in this book sucked. Every single one of them. And it was not even surprising because have you met men? Lol. Ted was a first class arsehole who had the impudence of a dying cockroach up until the very end of his character’s presence in the book. Adi, another unimaginative cowardly one. Guy too was just one posh bastard. Simon wasn’t much relevant to the story but I really hoped Darcy would leave his behind for another who won’t drag her to early retirement. 

Now, there was a point I tweeted this book had me conflicted and that was when I came to terms with Queenie’s past and what that meant for her mental health and the way she was. I do think the book spent too much time on the break up and self-pitying, which is fair, Lord knows breakups suck. A large part of the book focused on the whole eye-rolling bits and gave us background context and proper character development about forty percent towards the end. 

But what actually had me conflicted was how much of myself I saw in Queenie which I’m sure is the same for a lot of Black Women in ways we tend not to talk about often. Dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship, check. Abuse by men in our lives both formative years and personal relationships later on, check. Mental health struggles we suppress because we have an image to uphold, check. Family members being dismissive of said mental health issues because what is that to Black people, check. Perhaps it wasn’t conflict but rather a realisation of me being unkind after piecing all that together post my get-over-the-break-up-already-and-move-on moment of irritation. 

We don’t always need to be aware of the backstory of others to determine whether or not we are going to be empathetic. I was mostly worried about her losing her job which was what had me irritated but then I reminded myself I had brushed off the miscarriage she had learned of at the beginning. The shock of her finding out and then going straight to officially losing her man. Of course that was likely to make her breakdown in some way and not everyone deals with pain the same. You see, the expectation of women, Black women, is to shoulder everything with a brave face and smile. Never show your pain nor acknowledge, always make others comfortable at your own expense, compromise on your autonomy and all the while carrying on with your usual routines like all is well and dandy. I criticised Queenie and her grandmother all for internalising that only to check myself with that too lol. Unlearning on a daily, innit?

Truth is though, all is never well and dandy. I appreciate Queenie’s family coming around to the idea of therapy and being encouraging eventually. I wish that was the reality of us all. 

This book is a Black as hell one. I love the vulnerability it expressed, the beauty and love of friendships, the strength family support brings. The characters were endearing, with the obvious exceptions of the trash men who like in real life, we can’t avoid and Cass who gets an honorable mention because *eye* am personally rather petty. 

I typed this all out in a flurry right after reading and it probably doesn’t make much sense as I’m blabbering but, tl;dr, love this book, I got reminded of M.O’s “hey Queen” speech towards the end when Queenie and Darcy had the pep talk and I definitely think it should be on everyone’s reading list for the year (it’ll make a great summer read for when you go on vacation, you’re welcome). 

Shoemaker

It was their seventh visit to Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.

The last prescription had not worked either. They were prescribed something new. Her mother sighed and folded it into her purse. She would give it to her husband to buy the drugs tomorrow. 

On the way to the bus stop, the strap of her sandal got loose. Threatening to fall out. She told her mother and they noticed a shoemaker just across the street. 

They crossed and sat on a bench behind him. The enormous branches of the tree they were under providing comforting shade. 

The shoemaker squatted before her as her mother told him what the issue was. He noticed the rashes on her feet and commented on how uncomfortable it probably was.

Her mother responded saying it was the reason they had been to the hospital. 

“O sɛ wei nnyɛ hospital hospital. Ɔtaa hyɛ cambu ɛne socks?”,he asked.

Her mother answered in the affirmative. 

“Ɛyɛ heat no. Wo deɛ ma no ntaa nhyɛ sandals na mframa nfa ne nan ho. Ɛyɛ nso a na wo de Mercy Cream asra ne nan ho. Nyinaa bɛ kɔ.”,he said.

Her mother thanked him and decided to give that a try for a month and hold on to buying this new medicine.

And it worked. 

Her mother went back to the shoemaker a month later just to thank him for his advice. 

Years later as an adult living in a much colder climate, she was forced to wear boots and the like to keep her feet warm. 

Every now and then when putting on her socks while dressing up, she remembers the shoemaker and smiles as she mouths a silent, “thanks.”