Daoju Abrakasa--who until she came to depend on it for the courage to face up to each day’s challenges had steered clear of even the whiff of alcohol--had taken to the bottle not long after she and her three children were forced to abandon the comfort of her husband’s house. Prior to her removal she had for five long months been engaged in a tooth-and-nail battle to secure what was hers by right of marriage. Pa Abrakasa, eighty-two years old but still hale and hearty enough to drain five calabashes of palm wine at a sitting and then make the bedsprings squeal every night as he played house with his fourth and youngest wife, had one day thrown a quizzical glance at his chest, scratched his grizzled chin, and died. His death struck his household like a thunderclap: no one had seen it coming.
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And courtesy of 'The Binj', a new story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, My American Jon, exclusively on Binyavanga Wainaina's blog. A narrative of 'race, writing and difference'. Oh, plus sex and romantic love. Amaka has been with white Jon for 2 years. Are they headed for the altar, or will 'complexity' get in the way? Put another way, will Amaka do something to shake that 'certainty' with which Jon regards everything and everyone? Here's an excerpt...
Who says we were not lying all those times we clung to the comforting idea of complexity? It wasn’t about race, we would say, it was complex – Jon speaking first and me promptly agreeing. What if the reasons for most things didn’t require blurred lines? What about the day we walked into a Maine restaurant with white-linen-covered tables, and the waiter looked at us and asked Jon, “table for one?” Or when the new Indian girlfriend of Jon’s golf partner Ashish said she had enjoyed her graduate experience at Yale but had disliked how close the ghetto was and then her hand flew to her mouth after ‘ghetto’ and she turned to me and said, “oh, I’m so sorry” and Jon nodded as if to accept the apology on my behalf. What about when he, Jon, said he hated the predatory way a black man had looked at me in Central Park, and I realized I had never heard him use the word predatory before? Or the long weekend in Montreal when the strawberry-haired owner of the bed and breakfast refused to acknowledge me and spoke and smiled at Jon and I was not sure whether she disliked black people or simply liked Jon and later in the room, for the first time I did not agree that it was complex, at least not in the way I had agreed all the other times. I shouted at Jon – the worst thing is never being sure when it is race and not race and you’ll never have this baggage!