Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Daughter of the Diaspora

I live here now
Was born here and may die here now
Memories are rooted in stirring fufu in a tiny pot now
Fufu made out of jiffy mix
Bought at a Price Chopper (exactly 2 dollars and fifty cents)
Put it in a pot and stir till it becomes nice and thick
"It's supposed to clump together and should be able to form itself into a ball," Mama would say, "But remember child...real fufu don't really taste that way."
"We're trying to get the flavor I was used to back home." Mama would say, say to me.
"Does it come close?" I respond.
Mama laughs, "Not really."

I live here now
Memories are rooted in eating fufu when it's 5 degrees out
Or singing Nigerian gospel songs quietly instead of singing out loud
Mama says, "We usually sing these songs out loud till everyone sings...
but we'll try to sing these songs more quietly.
Can't wake the neighbors now."
My voice carries little traces of another place
I'm not anything like Mama
Memories are rooted in reading Morrison and singing like Nina now
And finding any black woman who looks like my image
Mama says, "Child, you are African but you're different now. You're a child born in America. And you'll experience different layers of pains and pressures now. So you can teach me and I'll teach you. 'Cause I'm thinking of going back home and home seems to be here for"

Mama's been trying to get me to go back...back home
"I'd like us to live there some day,"
Mama says, says to me
She's speaking as if she's caught in a dream
"We'll eat
real fufu, sing Nigerian gospels loudly, and it won't be 5 degrees out."
Mama says.
I think it would be nice to go...and see,
"But I don't think I can stay there Mama...I think I'm meant to be here now."
Mama breaks out of her nostalgia.
"True child," Mama says, says to me,
"You live here now. You'll visit but you may not stay...guess we'll have to wait and see. Guess we'll have to wait and"

Monday, March 8, 2010

Untitled Excerpt Continued...

Her parents came here in the late 1970s. They hoped to learn the white man’s education and take it back to become the intelligentsia of a black nation. At the airport they came with enough luggage filled with enough things to last for only a year. Or two.

The mother and father arrived at the airport basking in their “been-to” status. Been-to’s. People who when going back home would be considered the elite, the people who had “been-to” America and come back to show off all their newly learnt American mannerisms and style….that was the was African dream. To go back and wave your “been-to” status in everyone’s face. And bring back some American chocolates and act as if only Americans could invent something as tasty as a Babe Ruth bar.

But Niahra's parents are stuck in the American dream. And they never got to claim their been-to status or insult loved ones with American chocolate. They’re stuck-here’s now. And that’s a status that carries shame. The African dream is a dream deferred.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Untitled Excerpt Continued...

And her name ain’t that square neither. If she were fated to live square she would have been given a square name. It would be palatable and easy enough for your teeth to chew on. But not her name. Nee-ah-rah. Bet you’ll say it wrong before you say it right. 'Cause its not spelt the way it sounds. And there are silent letters in her name that if you were spelling without seeing you’d write it like they weren’t supposed to be there. But they are. That’s not a square name. Now try to tell her that.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010