rI’ve got to confess, I didn’t physically meet her. But I really wish I did. I know that I’m late to the party, but I have finally read Americanah. This is a really big deal for me. Simply because of who I am and what I love to do.
I remember being young, and being in awe of all of the toys in Toys r’ Us. How appealing they all looked. Walking through the aisles, finally seeing what had been shown during the adverts. Back in the day when Nickelodeon and Disney Channel kept their adverts to a minimum. I had to have it. My enthusiasm for those toys disappearing, pretty much as soon as the cashier scanned it. I would unbox the toy, play with it maybe once, and then in to the toy box it went. At the time, I didn’t think that I was ungrateful. I remember telling my parents that I would play with the toy, if only they bought it for me. I wouldn’t discard it like the others. But more fool them for believing the promises of a seven year old.
You see, it wasn’t that I didn’t like the toys, but playing with toys was not something that I liked to do. Give me a toy and I’m content, but give me a book and I’ll love you forever. Reading was my way of escaping. Before you start worrying and calling social services, I wasn’t running away from anyone or anything. For me, reading was my Barbie, my dress up and my GameBoy. As the authors carefully chose words to paint amazing pictures in my head, I became lost.
It was my birthday recently, and one thing that I asked for was books. Americanah was on my list and I knew that I had to read it. I had heard so much about it that I just knew that I needed to read it. So I found myself getting lost again. Missing stops on the train, doing mundane activities quickly so that I could get back to the book.
Those four days that I spent with Chimamanda, gave me a new passion for reading. Beautifully crafted, it is more than just a novel, it is a social commentary. The conversations and blog posts in the book were my favourite. Her critique of blackness, of race, of gender, of culture of generations. She made me laugh, both at the characters and at myself. I didn’t love the book because of the fact that I saw myself in some of the characters, I loved the book because she dared to write it. With Obama out of the White House, I found myself longing for a part two. What impact will this have on Dike? How is Ifemelu? What would it be like for me to leave England and return? Where would I be returning to? Where is home?
The four days that I spent with Chimamanda were comforting. Already a classic. More than just a love story or a tale of two immigrants. Chimamanda showed me that a story can be about more than just one thing. I can be about more than just one thing. Life can be about more than just one thing. The complexities of life are guaranteed, but you can be the author. You can choose to find the meanings behind the metaphors or simply allow them to be.