The urge to come back home
So she had banished "fat" from her vocabulary. But "fat" came back to her last winter, after almost thirteen years, when a man in line behind her at the supermarket muttered, "Fat people don't need to be eating that shit," as she paid for her giant bag of Tostitos. She glanced at him, surprised, mildly offended, and thought it a perfect blog post, how this stranger had decided she was fat. She would file the post under the tag "race, gender and body size." But back home, as she stood and faced the mirror's truth, she realized that she had ignored, for too long, the new tightness of her clothes, the rubbing together of her inner thighs, the softer, rounder parts of her that shook when she moved. She was fat. She said the word "fat" slowly, funneling it back and forward, and thought about all the other things she had learned not to say aloud in America. She was fat. She was not curvy or big boned; she was fat, it was the only word that felt true. And she had ignored, too, the cement in her soul. Her blog was doing well, with thousands of unique visitors each month, and she was earning good speaking fees, and she had a fellowship at Princeton and a relationship with Blaine —"You are the absolute love of my life," he'd written in her last birthday card—and yet there was cement in her soul. It had been there for a while, an early morning disease of fatigue, a bleakness and borderlessness. It brought with it amorphous longings, shapeless desires, brief imaginary glints of other lives she could be living, that over the months melded into a piercing homesickness. She scoured Nigerian websites, Nigerian profiles on Facebook, Nigerian blogs, and each click brought yet another story of a young person who had recently moved back home, clothed in American or British degrees, to start an investment company, a music production business, a fashion label, a magazine, a fast-food franchise. She looked at photographs of these men and women and felt the dull ache of loss, as though they had prised open her hand and taken something of hers. They were living her life. Nigeria became where she was supposed to be, the only place she could sink her roots in without the constant urge to tug them out and shake off the soil.
Happiness consists in frequent repetition of pleasure.
I wish you endless dreams and the furious desire to make some of them come true.
I wish you to love what you need to love and forget what you need to forget.
I wish you passions, I wish you silences. I wish you bird songs on waking up and children's laughter.
I wish you to respect the differences of others, because the merit and value of each one is often to be discovered. I wish you to resist the bogging down, the indifference and the negative virtues of our times.
Finally, I wish you never to give up research, adventure, life, love, because life is a magnificent adventure and no reasonable person should give it up without fighting a hard battle.
Above all, I wish you to be you, proud and happy, because happiness is our true destiny.
- 1968 -
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Monotony collapses time; novelty unfolds it.