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i love chimamanda – by verta ayanna

i have a serious crush on this chimamanda ngozi adichie. she is feminine and feminist.  she is strong and vulnerable. she is humble and brazen. she is beautiful and Nigerian and brilliantly talented. she is regal; from the top of her beautifully styled head to the tips of her stylishly outfitted toes.  she uses words in the ways i hope to. chimamanda and her heroine in Americanah, ifemelu, came to me when i needed them most. when i needed to see myself in this world and be more fearless sharing myself with this world. when i needed to be reminded that the human experience is not reserved for a select few in literature. there is space and a need for all of us.

Chimamanda Adichie

chimamanda and ifemelu came to remind me of all the characters and books and people that are a part of me; that define me. when obinze’s mother treats ifemelu as her own, telling her “I was once young. I know what it is like to love while young … you can love without making love.  It is a beautiful way of showing your feelings but it brings responsibility, great responsibility, and there is no rush…wait until you own yourself a little more;” it is just as i imagine my own mother would have told me, had she the words and wisdom to do so. this moment and so many more in Americanah touched me deeply. they take their rightful place next to my own memories of my grannie teaching me, and me alone, to eat avocados from their skin with a dash of salt. teaching me to savor what is given, as it is given. these moments, these remembrances, are tucked away for safe keeping; for times i need to be fortified when the world drains me.  i am grateful to chimamanda and ifemelu because when i needed confirmation that love always wins — when we let it — they came to me.

i feel sad when a book i have loved is coming to an end.  i feel sad when time spent savoring the ones that i love is coming to an end. while i am more skillfully present in life than i once was, there are moments when i find myself dwelling momentarily  in the future. considering that in just a few hours these characters, real and fictional and real, will only be a part of my memory. i will no longer see them unfold themselves before me nor will i be able to hold them near and smell the scent of creation on them. i fall in love with books and people often but not easily. i am cautious and selective about what and who i let into my heart.  i breathe people and books in deeply when they are great and admittedly even when they are not so great. i do this so that i will remember. so that i can recall their truth. great books like great people hold truths. we never know which truths will be revealed. once the revelation begins, i long to hold them with me, in the present, for a while longer. at that very moment, i find that it is with greater speed that they start to take flight forcing me to let go. this act of repeatedly letting go allows me to recall that truths once revealed remain. they stain our souls.

a few months ago on facebook, i was asked for my list of ten from a friend.  ten books that have influenced and shaped me.  ten books that caused me sadness when they came to end. ten books that have left their indelible and brilliant stain on my soul. i cheated.  it was too hard to come up with just ten.  here is my list in the order i recall them becoming a part of me:

the orginal facebook list (yes, there are twelve):

the ones i remembered immediately after i posted the facebook list:

the ones i have read after age 40 that i must include:

and the book that prompted this post:


Verta is writing her first book, loving out loud, because she believes that love should never be silent! verta shares how she is inspired by stories, by memories and by life at www.vertaayanna.com.
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