Ngala-Najla

I Celebrate Myself…


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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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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.


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Good Read

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You know a book is really good when you reach the final chapters and you want to savor each page and
especially want to wait for the best opportunities to read the book –a setting has to be perfect. And yet, although so selective for perfect moments, you can’t wait for the next moment to pick up the book.


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Americanah

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I am reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah and I have found my rhythm… My reading rhythm that is. Here I am reading it after some semi okay Ethiopian Food (man I miss DC!) and reading the book by candlelight because the restaurant is dimly lit for all the romantics (couples). I am loving a book at the moment and it’s name is Americanah and I love the reading grove that I’ve found.

I connect so much to this book, as animmigrant, as a person of African descent who is trying to navigate this racial filled mine field called America and I just love Chimamanda’s lyrical voice in this book and the way she thinks. By the way, please check out her TED talks.


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To Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

“Be calm. God awaits you at the door.” 
― Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezLove in the Time of Cholera

“Love in the time of Cholera” was a book that was written so vividly that it made me feel as if I was living with the characters. I litterally saw each scene in my mind.  That’s one of the indicators that you’re experiencing a good book, you’ve been transported to another time and another place.

For the past three weeks I found myself searching for Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez’s “Chronicle of a Death Foretold”, aiming to find it in a bookstore and not just order it online. I wanted to experience the old feeling of searching high and low for a book in multiple bookstores, perusing shelves, eventually finding and then holding it my hands… that’s the book I chose for the adventure.

When the alert of Marquez’s death came across my iphone today and after the quiet shock subsided (I know he was 87 but for some reason I was still surprised) I thought how fitting that I chose that book, with that name, with that author who wrote of the illusion of time so eloquently. And just like Chinua Achebe‘s death, it felt like a distant uncle died…feeling strangely connected to him because of his work.

Thank you for your work Sir. Like so many around the word, who may not share the same language but were connected due to your amazing work, I honor your life.

 

 

 


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No Mas

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I’ve made a pact with myself. The pact is around the purchasing (or not purchasing actually) books until I read 30 (okay 31!) books from my personal library.

As someone who is trying to save, I find that I am spending too much on books, especially when I have a lot at home that I have to finish reading or even start.

I think I have book ADHD.

Today, I went to BookCourt, my new favorite bookstore in NYC (sorry Strand)  bought a book and then went to the Barnes & Noble store in Park Slope and bought two additional books. A total of three books may not be a cause for concern, however, I can sense the slippery slope. In the picture above are the books that I will complete before I buy another book.

Here’s to self control.


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Living the Questions


“…I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

-Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903
in Letters to a Young Poet
 
Every now and again I need to revisit Rilke’s fourth letter to the  young poet, Kappus.  The fourth letter  houses the quote above and I reread that letter over and over again because the quote encapsulates, so well, the importance of being okay with “the process” — the journey, the marathon and not the sprint.