I’m in the middle of a book of short stories by a Nigerian author called Chinelo Okparanta. It’s called ‘Happiness, Like Water’ and so far all I’ve wanted to do is cry. I bought it because I wanted to feel Nigerian, which is stupid because I am Nigerian, I have a Nigerian passport. Except I live in London. I’ve lived in London since I was 6/7, so every big moment of life has happened in London, my clearest memories take place in London. Whereas, the memories that I have of Nigeria are sandy and blurry, fading in and out of time. One memory I have is of rain, lots of and lots of rain, a big downpour in the middle of a town. I remember being drenched in all this rain, while I held my younger sister’s hand and then being picked up and put on the back of a motorcycle. I can’t tell if it’s a made-up memory. Another memory is a dream I had while sleeping on my aunt’s bed. It was a dream of a dream, in which while sleeping, I was dreaming I was asleep and dreaming watching myself age in time, as if nights last years and years so dreams encompass a life time. I don’t know if that makes sense.
Although the short stories make me sad, I’m glad I’m reading them. There’s a weird sense of joy in recognition and I recognize the food and the pronunciations of names, the attitudes of the men and women, the religiousness and the spirituality, all things I understand because they’re a part of my life in London. Reading this, I see the dark side to my nationality, the unspoken truths about power and control, gender inequality, colourism and loneliness. That old-age fear of being unmarried and barren, the shame you carry within because as a woman you are unable to conceive. The way the town gossips and curses your name because you don’t behave like you belong. The last story I read felt the most personal because it dealt with colourism. The need to fair instead of dark, yellow instead of black. The closer your skin resembled that of the white models in the imported American magazines, the closer you were to beauty. I wonder what my mind would be like, or what certain countries would be like if we’d never been drowned in European ideologies.
I haven’t slept properly in a while, and when I sleep I dream intensely, like I’ve spent the night walking or engaging in conversation and then when I wake, I’m pulled out of that dream world into this one. I’m falling asleep everywhere, just not in the right place and I need constant movement in my limbs to stop from drifting off. I should be trying to sleep now, but it’s far away on my to-do list that I don’t have the time to attempt to sleep.
I mean it sincerely when I say that I’m in love with Rejjie Snow. He makes me feel slightly icky but I love that. I love his hairline the same way I love Tory Lanes’ hairline. In fact, I love receding hairlines. They make me laugh, and I love grey hairs too. They remind me that time doesn’t stand still, that I won’t be 17 forever, that I’m progressing and I’m aging and I love that so much. I don’t want to be young forever. I want to be forever moving on, never solid in one place, in one moment but never losing the thrill in momentary feelings.
I feel like I’m destined to always have a broken heart.
I feel like I’m destined to always be the one left standing in the dark, invisible and unnoticed. I feel so small in comparison to everyone I interact with on a daily basis, and yes sometimes that’s a good thing, but other times, I just want someone to see me. I want someone to really see me, or better yet see past me, past the physical me. I want the human form of the Holy Spirit, who exists outside my heart instead of inside, so the comforting and the wisdom that the bible claims it gives becomes a bodily thing. We always want what we can’t have. It’s a fact. We always want more and better, except the things is, what we want is possible but out of reach. It’s why we go searching because we believe that we’ll be first overstep that barrier.
Do you ever just yearn for a book? That’s me at the moment, although I’m not sure if it’s the book or the moment in which I read it that I’m craving. I remember it being early morning and I remember feeling warm. I had this song playing on repeat in the background and the atmosphere of the song and the book felt so real that I thought was there, watching through the window of this house full of hostages. When I think of that day now my heart feels heavy in my chest, like I’m on the verge of crying. Maybe it’s because the ending was sad, in fact, I think I cried when I got to the end. Anyway, I bought the book and I’m waiting for it to arrive so I can recreate the moment, but at the same time I’m afraid because memories are untouchable in that they are impossible to recreate. I live in a different house and I no longer sleep in a bunkbed. I’m also two years older, so it’s likely that I won’t feel the same the way. I hope I do.
You know what the best thing in the world is? Love songs. Love songs sung with an acoustic guitar with voices that do that wobbly thing. Or love songs sung by boys with deep voices, or love songs done by rappers. They’re the best things in the world because they’re so honest and so raw. They make me smile.
I’ve seen this movie about three times, and this particular part about 20 times because it is the sexiest thing I have heard and it makes me blush.
Playlist collage by Oyinda, featuring an image by Maisie Cousins.
Oyinda is a very very confused teenage girl, and like most people spends almost every waking moment trying to figure things out. Born in Nigeria but resides in London, she’s trying to become herself without shunning any part of her identity. To Oyinda, the ultimate goal in her life is to be seen as an equal counterpart universally, to be accepted for who she is and all her passions. You can find her on instagram and tumblr.