Ngala-Najla

I Celebrate Myself…


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Through the Eyes of My Grandmother

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My grandmother will be 85 this year. More and more I hear about someone passing from her generation and I think to myself the reality of my grandmother getting closer to passing. The greater, overarching reality is, however, that we’re all getting closer to passing…

I’m in Jamaica visiting my grandmother. In the middle of her telling stories that make you believe it happened yesterday, we’re also talking about wills and funeral preferences. My grandmother, the last of my grans, is telling me how she would like my mother and I to take care of her funeral arrangements. I stated to her the irony of life –death has no particular order.

I am here, in the house where part of my life I lived. Everything looks smaller than I remembered… Excepts the mountains that I can see from her house, they are seemingly larger and looming.

My grandmother lives off the land. She has someone who helps her with the farming. My grandmother is a strong woman and a strong soul. In our conversations I tell her of my progress, I show pictures of our family in New York, including my nephew (her great grand child) because I want her to see and hear about her legacy. My grandmother had, formally, a fifth grade education and I, her granddaughter, has a Masters. There was a lot of sacrifices that occurred on my behalf and just by being here and holding the space while my grandmother shares the triumphs and despair of her life healing is happening for generations before.


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Reconnect

Sometimes this world gets unbearable, words are misunderstood; loneliness begins to feel almost like a permanent reality. Then there are songs that lift you up and out of the darkness… such was true for Hezekiah Walker’s “I Need You to Survive” this morning, which reminded me that I am indeed connected to something bigger than myself, to this vastness that is humanity.

My heart is filled with hope and although there is still an ache there, I know I am not alone.


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Upon Reflection

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Each morning I wake up, I work hard to not take it for granted that I am here. The realities of death and life are more poignant as I get older. I am so grateful for this moment of reflection. The fog of the morning beckons me to be still and sing praises to the Most High. I am in Prospect Park where the chirping of the birds and the gentle waves of the lake are soothing. The intermittent passing of ducks on the lake and birds flying low so that their wingtips touch the water leaves me in awe. And every time a bird flies close to me, so close that I can hear the fluttering of their wings, I feel even more blessed.


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I am blessed…

This afternoon, I laid in savasana, the final yogic pose in a yoga session where your body is completely at still, and  I listened to the words of Ben Harpers song, I am Blessed. I have never hard that song before and it was a sweet addition to my day, which I took off.

Yesterday I celebrated my birthday with a birthday brunch. It was lovely. It wa perfect.  In savasana listening to Ben Harper’s words and the drums playing, I could not resist the tears forming under my closed eyelids. There is no denying the blessings that I have.

 


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To Mama Maya Angelou, With Love

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I am not sure if I can articulate, in words, my emotions correctly today…but here goes:

 

This morning as I stood on the escalators of Broadway Junction, I looked down at my phone, which was just receiving reception. What flashed across the phone’s screen was a New York Times alert, ” Maya Angelou…dead at 86.” I gasped and looked around to see if anyone else knew. I wanted to share it with someone but others continued and their faces gave nothing away. When I got home after work, I lit a white candle (a suggestion by Iyanla Vazant that rang true for me) to bid Maya Angelou a safe transition…

I am not sure how I was introduced to the works of Maya Angelou. I would beg to say, she has been a part of my life for a very long time. Now reflecting on her life and what it means to be, like so many others are doing today, a few events are replaying in my mind:

1. Her poem, “Still I Rise” was recited in my voice at my church as a teenager. I told a friend today that I remember finding the poem and reading it for my church’s Black History Month celebration. In the middle of reciting the poem I forgot the words and sat down disappointed…moments after I went back up and told the MC that I wanted to finish the poem. To me it deserved that reverence. “I am the hope and the dream of the slave!” I proclaimed, feeling the power of those words but not really understanding it completely at that time.

2. I have never seen my mom connect to a book like she did to “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” I would assumed that the words of the book spoke to her in a way she has never shared with me or my sister. She was the first person I called when I found out.

3. “Phenomenal Woman” I presented to my English class in college and as I read the words, they and I became one. I remember clasping the book in my hands and reading it and when I was finished I hugged the book, so proud of myself…. because I found words that really got me.

 

Maya Angelou gave me words that my spirit understood before my mind could comprehend their power. She has always been present for me and always will.

 


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Questions

There are times in my life where I revisit and wonder about alternative endings. This often includes my involvement with men, who on some level I loved.

We’re often told that looking back is never a good thing but on nights like this, when the air is heavy and all is still except for the sound of the fan, I cannot seem to control my mind from wondering.


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Nostalgia

I finished Americanah today. I found myself crying and laughing throughout the last chapter. It ended beautifully. After closing the book, I began this fantasy, in my head, about having some way to write Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie, as if she were a good friend, to really encourage her to turn the book into a mini series. Of course Lupita Nyong’o would star in it and it would be set in Nigeria, with flashbacks. I still haven’t determined who would play the other roles…but Chimamanda may want to have a say in it.

I mourned the end of the book and felt as if I was no longer in the Unites States…Jamaica felt real to me. The heat today of course helped. It felt like the Caribbean.

Home is indeed calling.