book of memory

BOOK REVIEW| THE BOOK OF MEMORY

The blurb of this book is one of those that gets your attention and I could not stop thinking about it afterwards, so I bought it (a decision I’m glad I made).

It is the story of a young albino woman named Memory who is languishing in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, where she has been convicted of murder. As part of her appeal, her lawyer insists that she write down what happened as she remembers it.

The narrative flits without ceremony between past and present, although the book is split into three segments. Memory is a good story teller, albeit a distractible one, but then again no life is ever so linear. Her prison mates make for hilarious parts of the book when I found myself clutching my belly and laughing. Memory herself is such an interesting character: smart, witty, resilient. Her life is honestly quite the tale.

I love, love the use of indigenous language in this book. I feel like Zimbabwe is one of those African countries that I knew nothing about before this book. There’s information about culture and history in this book that was far better than knowing nothing and definitely piqued my interest.

I don’t even remember how I first found Pettina Gappah anymore but I’m now simultaneously excited and nervous about reading anything else by her, because what if its better or it’s not this good, you know?

QUOTES:

Until you attempt to write the story of your life, you cannot quite understand just how hard it is to grasp at the beginning.

That is something that may interest you, by the way: that the magistrates here hand out stiffer sentences for stealing cows than for raping children.

“You must open your hearts to the Lord. You must fill your blood with his power, so that even the mosquitoes that bite feel that power. They will suck the power in your blood.”

Joyi’s face wore a pinched expression after each hair session; she stuck out her head as though it was now too heavy to rest on her shoulders, or like it carried an invisible load… It was only after two days that their faces relaxed as the style settled in.

I had famously used English, and only English at my trial. In my first week in prison, I had overheard Jimmy tell Evernice that even when I cried, I cried in English. ‘And she even laughs in English’, she had added, with what sounded like admiration.

The biggest surprise about prison is the laughter. There is laughter to go with sudden quarrels; there is malice and gossip along with acts of generosity.

Until I came to Chikurubi, I had never gone more than three hours without reading. Whenever Loveness brings me the newspapers, I drink them in quick, thirsty gulps. When I first got here, I thought I would go mad. I hallucinated pages rising like mirages before me, the letters dancing away when I reached out to touch them.

‘And what’ she often asked ‘is God’s telephone number?’ ‘Jeremiah thirty-three verse three’, we chanted in unison.

I would have taken Whizi’s eyes, and Lavinia’s limp and added it to Nhau’s scar and Drunken’s speech, only to have colour in my skin.

I also read, perhaps in the same article, that memory is closely linked with the acquisition of language, that without verbal ability to articulate experience, there can be no memory, and this is why our earliest recollections date from the time we learn to speak.

Looking back, there was something essentially joyless in their drinking, a determination that had nothing to do with conviviality.

 

It’s a lovely, funny, unique experience, this book. Read it.

 

Cloud 9: A new place to shop in SVG

Hi there!

Did you have a good weekend? I did! We had a long weekend here and the week started just today for me. I know the weekend is even more far reaching for people in Nigeria. Last week I stopped to check out a small, (not so) new department store which opened on the island late last year… And I loved it!

They stock everything from home/decor (throw pillows, decorative pieces, picture frames, coffee maker, table lamps, throws and duvets etc) to clothing, shoes, swimsuits, stationery and even skin/hair care products which are in the retail store on the ground floor. The first floor is their furniture showroom.

My favorite thing about Cloud9 is that they have really unique pieces; stuff that’s hard to find on an island this small and somewhat remote. The prices are also super affordable. See for yourself!

This is not a sponsored post (I wish!) but you should go have a look.

Find them on Instagram @cloud9svg and the store itself is in the gap just next to the Salvation Army (right by the ACE store in Kingstown). If you get lost, you could just call 534-900. Or visit their website here.

Enjoy what’s left of the week! x

Afoma

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CURRENTLY LOVING…| JUNE

Hi there, lovely people of the internet,

It’s me again with all the good stuff I’ve seen, read, listened to and experienced this month. June was an alright month. I made a bunch of new (good) friends, saw a lot of patients, didn’t sleep enough, ate a lot and listened to new music (courtesy, new friends). I’m starting July with a trip to one of my favorite places for a convention and I’m so excited!

In the meantime, here’s the stuff:

Articles around the web:

This is the absolute most enlightening thing I read all month. Love it. Why do we like what we like? What even is taste?

Can reading make you happier?

Did you see this photo reel of real Barack Obama moments? Love.

Ife says we why need to banish cynicism; something I struggled with this month.

My fave, Caroline Donoforio is back and blogging about books. Great recommendations here!

This tongue-in-cheek New Yorker article about ‘Quitting your job to travel the world’ made my day.

I finally got around to reading Paul Kalanithi’s heartbreaking book mentioned in my summer reading list. Sigh. Read this if you’re not sure who he is.

How cute is it that this woman’s mum photobombed her husband’s photo years before they met!

Thinking of starting this show. The New Yorker has great reviews of books and movies.

A case for long distance relationships. I enjoyed reading this.

Uche’s ‘Long Hair’ took me straight back to secondary school. It’s also very funny. Read it.

I always wondered what it’s like to work for Uber and other on-demand service providers. This article sheds some light.

A couple re-marry after divorcing each other. What changed?

This portrait of friendship in the face of cancer broke my heart.

You know I had to have this brainpickings article with my mama Cheryl Strayed on the latent recognition of how our seemingly unremarkable experiences add up to our becoming.

Alithnayn wrote this lovely non-fiction piece about dating an older man.

Here’s how you tiptoe around a depressed mother.

Did you catch my review of Yaa Gyasi’s ‘Homegoing‘? Read her piece on the difference or lack thereof being African and Black in America here.

Shame, by Warsan Shire❤

KitchenButterfly published her letter to her twenty year old self again on Medium. I’d read it on TNC, but it’s worth a second mention.

Silence is the enemy for doctors with depression. Please take care of yourself, and seek help.

You know a Tracee Ellis Ross interview gotta feature. She’s so articulate.

Lucy Kalanithi on why being a widow doesn’t end your marriage. Sigh.

I’ve been practicing mono-tasking since I read this.

Why can’t we just ditch small talk altogether? I’m here for this article.

An Open Letter to Young Women Considering a Career in Surgery. This is so necessary.

PODCASTS

June was podcast mania month. Whoo! I enjoyed every second. I found a few new good ones to enjoy (new to me, obviously).

Dear Sugar Podcast: I cannot believe I didn’t start listening to this soon after I read the book. Better late than never. Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond give fantastic advice with the help of a guest in each episode. It makes for great listening. Guys, listen to this episode to begin. I’m currently making my way through ALL of the episodes.

Here’s the thing with Alec Baldwin: someone described his voice as velvet. I literally only listened for his voice but now I’m hooked! It’s conversations with his famous and not so famous friends. Love this one with Sarah Jessica Parker. I’m excited to listen to his interview with Julie Andrews.

Millenial: is a fantastic podcast by Megan Tan about navigating your twenties. The newest episode is about what happens when you discover that some of your friends are from richer and more privileged families and don’t have to work half as you have to. It’s great.

Are you following Strangers‘ ‘Summer Of Love’? Adore this episode.

Tig Notaro and Gillian Flynn are on Nerdette and its one of my favorites yet.

INVISIBILIA CAME BACK! This episode explores whether our personalities are fixed and why it’s so scary to believe that personalities are totally subject to change.

The newest episode of This American Life about why people deliberately make the wrong choice is fascinating. So is this one on how to teach little children about difficult things like sex and death.

ALSO, Nik-Nak started something podcast-y. I’m excited about Voice Notes.

This Hidden Brain episode is great. A 42 year old woman explains why her baby blanket is still comforting. I enjoyed this.

MUSIC:

I’ve found mostly singles this month, not albums. Here are some of my faves:

Chainsmokers ft. Daya – Don’t Let Me Down

Cobi- Don’t you cry for me

Rachel Platten‘s album Wildfire– Listen to Stand By You

Halsey‘s Badlands album- Listen to New Americana

I also think the Me Before You soundtrack is worth a listen.

Movies & YouTube:

I watched ‘Hello, My Name Is Doris‘. It was alright, very funny at times, but mostly okay.

I binge-watched the entire first season of Code Black and I’m looking forward to season 2!

In this Skin Deep video, a couple discuss their 45 year age gap and how it makes them feel. It’s sweet.

Lidia Yuknavitch’s TedTalk about being a misfit got me.

A friend put me on to Kevin Yang’s ‘How to Love Your Introvert’ poem and I have all the heartssss.

Favorite Things:

I contributed as a Travel writer in the GuardianLife magazine! I’m pretty much going to be there every third Sunday for a bit, so look out!


I passed my six week mark for internal medicine rotation, aka 50% done.

Actually read 4 books this month, HELLUR.

Saw the most stunning sunset.


I went on a hike along the Vermont Trail here in St Vincent and it was just great.

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Published my first style post shot by myself using a tripod. It’s not the best but I’m super proud of it.

What was June like for you? Watch anything you like? Read any good books? Go anywhere new? How’s life? Tell me!

 

STYLE| ALONE

Hello there!

Long time no style post! I’ve essentially been without a photographer to document my stylish escapades in recent times. I have also not been in the mood to wrestle my tripod and change lenses and smile two seconds before the camera’s shutter sound at six in the morning (which is around when these photos were taken). One weekend though, I got tired of all my excuses and just figured out how to set up my tripod, the best length, best angles and decided I’d photograph every outfit that week.

I only did this one outfit. I was so irritated with the way the photos came out, the in and out lighting and the weird angles but you’ve got to start somewhere, innit?

I’ve gone on and on about how H&M makes my favorite blouses and this is a good example. These pants debuted on the blog here and are such a favorite. I didn’t realize how bright they were until my intern said when I wore them

‘Oh? Red Pants’

Also hated the initial bare neck so I put on a necklace for subsequent shots. What do you think? Bare necked or necklaced?

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Dressing for work has been my favorite thing! I haven’t worn jeans once in over a month! Do you like dressing formally? Or do you miss the jeans lifestyle (if you can’t wear them to work). Let me know!

Till soon, Afoma x

untangling

you say it’s over and i laugh.
you think we should take it slow;
take a break is actually what you say,
but what’s the difference?

i no longer know where you end and i begin
because together we are the yellow of youth and sunshine
there’s no red and green anymore-
just us and the light of our love

our love was magenta,
the red and blue are now lost
in the hue of what was.
how dare you ask me to move on?
how dare you ask me to find myself again?

the warmth of our love is
the dipping sun
and all that we dreamed we’d be
is reduced to the half life of an orange horizon

our love was snow on the mountain top
and i was not prepared for the avalanche
it was the fragile thing i let teeter on
the edge
because i thought we were the exception

so don’t tell me to move on
because now some of my music is yours
and i’ll never watch another movie without
hearing your commentary
or read anything without your face in my mind
because a few words have changed meanings since you.

homegoing

BOOK REVIEW| HOMEGOING

Wow.

I just finished reading this book and I decided to write a review while everything is still so raw and so close to my heart. What a story.

Homegoing is the tale of two black half sisters separated, one (Esi) raised by their biological mother and the other (Effia) by her step mother. Effia marries a British slaver while Esi is sold into slavery in America. The book follows 6 generations after the sisters, Effia passing down their story to members of her lineage while things get a bit messier on Esi’s side. Every chapter is by a member of a subsequent generation, each side alternating. I really thought I would get confused a lot but I got so drawn into the story that I felt like I knew all of them so well, almost like there was a face to every name. Yaa Gyasi’s storytelling is beautiful and spellbinding.

My favorite thing about the book is how much it is about the people. Admittedly there’s more on certain characters than there are about others and I did feel more drawn to some characters for this reason, but I think that’s just like life. The book explores the cruelty of slavery and I began to feel such a deep appreciation for Ghanaian culture and everything the Gold Coast and Africa in general have been through. The book has been touted ‘Roots’ for the 21st century and I think the most important difference between ‘Roots’ and ‘Homegoing’ is that the latter is about a country closer to my heart and about people’s stories and humanity and love and survival.

“The family is like the forest: if you are outside it is dense; if you are inside you see that each tree has its own position.”

“It was only when Effia didn’t speak or question, when she made herself small, that she could feel Baaba’s love, or something like it. Maybe this was what Abeeku wanted too.”

“She’d heard the Englishmen call them “wenches,” not wives. “Wife” was a word reserved for the white women across the Atlantic. “Wench” was something else entirely, a word the soldiers used to keep their hands clean so that they would not get in trouble with their god, a being who himself was made up of three but who allowed men to marry only one.”

“Since moving to the Castle, she’d discovered that only the white men talked of “black magic.” As though magic had a color.”

“If he wants to call you Emily, let him call you Emily… Better that than to listen to him butcher your mother tongue over and over”

“Hell was a place of remembering, each beautiful moment passed through the mind’s eye until it fell to the ground like a rotten mango, perfectly useless, uselessly perfect”

“Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves.”

“Quey, this village must conduct its business like that female bird. You want to pay more for slaves, pay more, but know that the Dutch will also pay more, and the Portuguese and even the pirates will pay more too. And while you are all shouting about how much better you are than the others, I will be sitting quietly in my compound, eating my fufu and waiting for the price I think is right. Now, let us not speak of business anymore.”

“You can learn anything when you have to learn it. You could learn to fly if it meant you would live another day.”

“for the rest of her life Esi would see a smile on a white face and remember the one the soldier gave her before taking her to his quarters, how white men smiling just meant more evil was coming with the next wave.”

“She wanted to tell Mrs. Pinkston that at home, they had a different word for African Americans. Akata. That akata people were different from Ghanaians, too long gone from the mother continent to continue calling it the mother continent. She wanted to tell Mrs. Pinkston that she could feel herself being pulled away too, almost akata, too long gone from Ghana to be Ghanaian”

“All children had heard the fables about people who lay together before they had their marriage ceremonies: the far-fetched one about the men whose penises turned into trees while still inside the woman, growing branches into her stomach so that he could not exit her body; the simpler, truer ones about banishment, fines, and shame.”

“You cannot stick a knife in a goat and then say, Now I will remove my knife slowly, so let things be easy and clean, let there be no mess. There will always be blood.”

It is Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel. Read it. I’m so excited to see what she puts out next (whenever that is). I will always be grateful for this work.

WHAT’S IN MY WHITE COAT POCKET?

Hi there,

I’ve been on the internal  medicine service for the last 3 weeks (by this Friday). I’m enjoying it so much, it literally feels like time is flyinggggg by! Minus standing for two to three hours in one go and occasionally forgetting to eat lunch, it’s perfect.

Here are the on the go resources stuffed in my white coat pocket everyday:

First off, Stethoscope, which I like to wear across the back of my neck, then, my ID. I carry this Maxwell quick reference guide in my coat’s breast pocket. It is literally life saving for history taking, checking out normal lab values and even writing SOAP notes. No idea what I’d do without it. Also, gotta have as many pens as I can carry in my pocket, because sometimes your superiors borrow your pens. Then there’s my penlight.

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My lower pockets contain this Medicine Pocket book which is great for finding quick information on your feet. Also have my phone for that quick medscape check during ward rounds. This tiny moleskine notebook is the perfect size for my pocket. Love it. I usually have a hand sanitizer and lipbalm in my pocket. I carry a ‘borrowed-from-the-hospital’ tourniquet in my pocket, just so I don’t have to look for one every time I need to draw blood. Last, but not least, my reflex hammer.

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If I liked chocolate as much as the average person, I guess I’d have a bar in my pockets? I usually don’t. It also gets really hot and I have an irrational fear of melted chocolate irreversibly staining my white coat, hohoho.

Med students in the house, what are your favorite things to stuff your white coats with?

Afoma x