Sunday, 22 April 2018

Dear Dad,

I am writing to tell you why the month of April haunts me.

It is the month we bade you a final farewell, all those years ago. At your funeral, people wailed, I wailed, and songs depicting your character tore the atmosphere. Finally, you were at peace. Since then, the memories you left behind have become taxing on the heart and soul. 

We were close; as close as father and daughter can get. You were not one for gushing, but your love was noticeable in the little things–your smile, your lousy jokes, your far-fetched tales, your warm gaze when you thought no one was watching, and in the way you hammered into me that the only inheritance worth having was a sound education. 

I get it now, I really do.

You entertained my curious mind, all that endless talk about my dreams, and you believed I could become whoever I wanted to be. You said all I needed was to be grounded, to have the faith and courage to hold on to my authenticity and uniqueness. To cement your words, you reined in on my immaturity and over-inflated confidence by recounting poignant moments where you had experienced failure, missed an opportunity and took unnecessary risks. However, you were quick to heighten my spirits by stating that life had not denied you some glory. From your overflowing bag of wisdom, you drew upon your success stories. How you scaled your trips around the world; and navigated the challenges of diversity as you interacted with people from all walks of life, among other things.

Of all the things I remember about you, it is your belief in your ancestors that I found staggering. I was a Christian; you regarded yourself as more spiritual than anything else. As I write this, my mind recalls one of our conversations where you spoke in riddles:

‘Can you see it?’  
‘See what?’
‘The future.’
‘What? In your palm?’
‘Yes, and yours my dear child, is as bright as the morning star. Look, right there.’

I creased my brow, laughed, shook my head in disbelief at your unearthly utterings. It was utter nonsense, and yet I hung onto every word. You became my muse. Now, having experienced life as I have, I know why you did it.

The last day we talked, you ditched your usual eccentricity and crammed your speech to give me the abbreviated version of your sentiments. You did not mince your words for you knew we had limited time. I treasure those final words. Sacred words of the dying every loved-one seeks to find closure.

I wish I could say that the adage time heals all wounds rings true for me. It does not. 

After your untimely departure, I rode the dragon of grief just like everyone else. I heeded the advice you gave me over the years. I am grateful for your preparation which gifted me with the resilience to withstand tough times. The foundation you laid, cultivated in me, a rooted sense of self, and the propensity to accept that, in life, we do not always get what we want, when we want. You taught me that sometimes down is up and lost is found.

And yet, the ache of longing for your presence never fades.

During my rueful moments, my mind threatens to explode with pent-up emotions. I have things to say. Things to show you. If only you could feast your eyes on what I have achieved. It is not much, but you would have rejoiced and reminded me, with a smug look on your face, of the day I dubbed you a crazy old man because of your weird prophesying. I regret you are not here to listen to your grandchildren’s crazy stories, perhaps teach them a thing or two. I want to whine about my problems, share my joys with you, and seek your advice, draw from your well of wisdom, but I can’t.

Your face has become elusive in my dreams. I see your lips moving, but your voice is distorted, and I do not understand the words you speak. There is a misty fog billowing around you, and my eyes cannot penetrate through it. Everything has become a blur.

You were not the most perfect dad in the world, but in my eyes, you were kind and prudent. 

Despite your flaws, you insisted on my schooling. 

You were by no means the perfect parent, but you were the one who stayed. 

There have been many seasons since your passing, but I am still consumed with rage. My heart still jolts from the harsh reality–you are gone forever, and all I have are the relics of my heartache, the constant reminder being the tombstone under which you lay interred in the cold grave.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Friends Like These

Image courtesy of the internet

If you are like me, then you have friends or have had friends with whom you parted or who have become mere acquaintances. Perhaps, you wish you had the foresight not to have lingered for as long you did when they manifested themselves in your life. Take heart, I am here to open your eyes as to which kind of friend deserves you. 

There are what I call good weather friends. Those who overlook you and seek the pleasure of your company at their convenience. This kind of friends cannot handle your strife and tolerate you when the sea is calm. Should you find yourself in the throes of trials and tribulations, their phones become unreachable, and your messages are never returned. They are forever rebuffing your invitations and cries for help and apologising for their busy schedules which deprive them of your friendship. 

Some friends invite you for coffee to assure you of their perpetual sympathy. They console you but never splurge on congratulations on your victory, achievements and success. Their habitual pitying words give them the upper hand and feed their superiority complexes. Like ticks, they suck every detail about your sorry little life only to jeer and spread it like the gospel when your back is turned.

You are so strong, I admire you. I will lend you a tenner, pay me when you can. Ah, poor you, I don’t know if I could have survived your ordeal. Why don’t you do this to avoid a, b, c, happening in the future? 

Their tongues are like daggers piercing your chest. Your blood boils as you watch the condescension in their carefully modelled faces. Their snide remarks are swathed in tenderness, compassion and concern, but really, they are aimed at reducing you to size and making you feel worthless. 

Deep down, you know that were it not for the circumstances that compel you to endure such degrading insinuations, you would have the gumption to rid yourself of such poison and set your sights at cultivating better friendships for yourself.

Then they are vile friends. Those who sit back and watch you heading towards disaster. They foresee danger and your demise but choose to withhold counsel. Like the chameleon that changes to suit its environment, they sing your praises in your presence, to inflate your ego and give you a false sense of security, but participate in your slander and whisperings about your shortcomings. Some of these friends genuinely do not want to ruffle anyone’s feathers and do not know what they stand for. But among these, are those secretly itching for your downfall. Beware.

Only when you find yourself in the pit of hell, do you become privy to such friends’ real thoughts. Their real character. You should have, why didn’t you, had you, I wish. What’s the bloody use?

If I have dampened your spirits, do not despair. There are great friends out there. Friends who see the tears behind your smile. Loving friends gifted with the discernment to know what I am doing just fine really means.

Everyone deserves to have that one friend to whom they can empty their heart and soul. The one who will jealously guard their deepest and darkest secrets and take them to the grave. That friend who brings out the best in them, cries with them, celebrates with them and stands firmly by their side even when the universe condemns them. The kind of friend who is not too proud to say I am sorry, I need your help, I love you.

If no one has ever said wake me up anytime, I will be there it is time to change your circles. If none among your friends has ever chided you behind closed doors and spoke the harsh truths no one dares to utter to your face, and later hugged you, then it is time to do some soul-searching.

This kind of friend does exist. When you find them, treasure them for they are rare.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

How Time Has Changed Me

I can’t say I remember my suckling or cooing days. Neither can I claim to know for sure if I was a terrible toddler or not. What I can vouch for are the marks tattooed on my legs and forehead. Mama tells me they are monuments of the numerous falls sustained during my tender years. She has recounted to my horror, my audacious attempts at clambering the tall mango tree in our backyard at three! And how I slapped other children across their cheeks and watched them wail, unfazed, devoid of emotion. I am also told I once chortled and tried to reach for the slithery viper that crept into our living room. Thank God, Mama was always there to save me from myself.

There is a phase my memory has not deceived me. The time the upbeat, patriotic songs blared on the street corners and lyrics of Michael Jackson and Grace Jones thumped through open windows and muffled gramophones. I remember reciting every verse of Nothing is Gonna Stop Us Now and painting my diary pages with every word. My interests were innocuous at first. But as the music took on a new meaning, I was no longer just chanting, scribbling and dancing to the rhythm. To the boy who sent my pulses racing, I professed I Will Always Love You. When he shattered my heart into a thousand pieces, I begged him to Come Back to Me. I was just another Broken-Hearted Girl. Each melody, each beat, every phrase, became poignant, sacred and meaningful. An allegory for my life. 

Those in the know say I was just a teenager with raging hormones. 

But I swear the world was conspiring against me. How else could I explain other girls having superior coiffures? Or that my bulging thighs were an eyesore even in steeply priced habiliments father bought with his hard-earned cash? By now I had sassed what calls for flattery and roused the opposite sex, and it was nothing I possessed. Nothing I could pin down. Is it any wonder jealousy, self-doubt and paranoia consumed me? 

Then I took a stab at engineering my transformation. Skin lightening creams, hot combs and Palazzos came to the rescue. I am thankful there was no Snapchat and Instagram to increase the torture. Looking back now, I cringe at the things I did. What was I thinking? It was inevitable, I suppose, that gradually I would embrace who I was. It turns out, being me was okay. My looks did not define me. There was more to me than my hoarse voice and knobbly knees. My intelligence mattered. I could shift my focus towards greater heights. Reach for the stars. Become the so-called woman of substance. 

There are things I wish I had, want to have like yesterday, but I try not to dwell on what I cannot change or control. I am learning to trust the process. Friends and the need to belong are essential to me. But I am also at peace in my own company. When I experience defeat, my mantra is to try, try, try again. I pride myself on my resilience. My ability to bounce back. For how can I grow if I do not fall?

Somewhere within me, lies a passion for igniting. I have something to offer, not only to my family or my immediate surroundings but the world. It’s funny how an appetite develops into insatiable hunger. The realisation that there is an entire world to explore. Something else. I derive satisfaction from motherhood, wifehood, occupation, and all that which makes me a grounded being, I suppose, but should I suffer for wanting more? Striving for more? Geography and responsibilities do not a hindrance make. Personal expansion is mine for the taking. But first, I must know - what is my purpose? 

With each season, I become my own philosopher, pondering, searching and demanding answers to life's tough questions. I know little, but I have heard and read the success stories. The great men and women inventors. The DaVincis of our time. Writers and performers, and those whose names are not visible among the stars but have changed the world all the same. Who am I to stand in my way? I could write the world's most celebrated novel or find the cure for cancer. This fire is past kindling. Perhaps one day, like the cleansing furnace, it will rid me of the disquieting voice. That constant whisper that nudges me towards greatness and prompts me to find a reason to live. My purpose. Meaning.

Inevitably, I will enter my twilight years. Without a shred of doubt, I know that when the time comes, it will be the cacophony of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren's whines and feet that will afford me the most pleasure. I will treasure the feel of their tiny hands exploring the contours of my wrinkled face. I will attend to their questions with as much zeal as the desire I have to make sense of it all now. I shall drown in their stunned, twinkly eyes when they listen to my tales. I will chuckle when they gasp at my ancient words. For it matters not if they get it or not. Because in the years to come, they will. 

When the time comes for me to slow down, cross over to the other side, I want to reflect, inhale and exhale, knowing I did all I could. That I swum with the sharks and survived. That I swung for the fence, reached my full potential and fulfilled my destiny. Or at least gave it a whirl. 

Hey, come back soon!

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Things That Keep Me Awake At Night.

Image courtesy of the internet

Sometimes it's the cold or the heat. Easily remedied by peeling off a layer or two of my covering, the hot water bottle or... 

On other days all it takes is a nagging word. That careless whisper among friends. A derogatory phrase or statement that unintentionally spills into my ears. I am not in the habit of eavesdropping, but I cannot 'unhear' the words spoken about me or to me. I spend minutes, hours, mulling as I try to decipher their meaning. The intention. When answers fail me, I remind myself of that all-important doctrine which says, I am the master of my thoughts. I have the power over my reactions. I choose what I entertain. So, I let sleeping dogs lie and drift off to sleep.

Sometimes it is the near-misses. Words I could have said to change an outcome. The missed opportunity. That wrong turn I made. If only I could undo it all. What is done is done, I finally let the harsh truth sink. It is only then that I begin to feel the weight of my eyelids.

Image courtesy of the internet.

Occasionally it is the hefty bills. Those red letters the postman keeps tossing through the letterbox. That pile I have not dared to open. The endless phone calls from the lender. As if one reminder is not enough. Don't they know that threats and final warnings will not change my circumstances overnight? That if wishes were horses, I would be buying their electricity and gas company? That I will be the CEO of the most magnificent bank in the world? Yeah, tell that to my sleep.  

Excitement. Joy. Superimposed upon worry. It could be the pains of motherhood. On the one hand, my heart bursts with pride to see my children grow. As time shifts them from one stage to the next, I hold my breath and hope they are learning what they need to learn. At night I break into a cold sweat when I imagine the world in a few years’ time. The time when they will have to fend for themselves. When I am no longer around? I pray I am a good role model. That I have done enough, doing enough. For now, I am glad they are sheltered in my bosom. But I worry the world will soon swallow them up. Things are constantly changing. Wherever they go, messages and indoctrinations are continuously being injected into their brains, subliminally or otherwise, through the internet and other channels. I hope and pray that our preparation will prevent them being tossed out to the sea. Or that when that happens, the can find the strength and courage to swim back to shore.

There are times when I lie awake at night planning and plotting. It’s not what you think. It usually starts with the panic that comes with the realisation that I have wasted the entire day, my whole life. As the guilt of hours spent watching the marathons of Scandal and Autopsy on Netflix rips through me, I go into full-blown panic mode. How could I let the precious hours go to waste without filling a page or two with inspired words, perhaps a bit of editing? My dreams will not materialise out of thin air. At which point I spring from my pillow and compile a comprehensive list of all my deserving accomplishments. Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful for the little things. After all, ‘gratitude shifts your energy and brings you more of what you want.’ I toss these platitudes around to quell despair. I give myself a pep talk - Bertha, you deserve to rest. You deserve some ‘me’ time. After all, you completed a chapter yesterday. You saved a life at work. Now, that is a good compromise, don't you think? 

Sometimes during the small hours of the night, I wrestle with my raging mind. How it shows no mercy by dragging me to back to yesteryear. Back to my roots. Those earlier times when my parents still roamed this earth. Before death snatched them away. As I lay my head on the pillow and squeeze my eyes shut, I swear I can see my father smiling at me. I can hear his laughter and smell his snuff which, even now, still tickles my nostrils and almost makes me break into a violent sneeze. 

The yearning for my mother's gentle touch also disturbs the night's tranquillity. I long to hear her sweet voice egging me on. Slowly, the fond memories turn to horror. As reality sets in, sweat and tears drench my nightgown and my pillow. I stare at the ceiling. There is nothing to see except darkness. Nothingness. The void left behind makes my heart jolt with grief. My chest tightens. Sometimes I can feel it being pulled sideways as if by the surgeon's retractor. God, why? Why torment me with such memories if there is nothing I can do to turn back the clock?

There are some moments during the night, which quite frankly, I could do with a pick and a shovel to bury ghosts. Relics from the past. Those friends and lovers with whom I have parted. Why open that Pandora's box if it only curtails my sleep with things that no longer concern me?  Thanks to social media, all it takes is a tap and a click to glimpse into someone's life. Poring over pictures and comparing. How the heart rests when one sees the bulge around their nemesis's waistline. One can't help but notice the banger sitting in their driveway. Hurray! My life is better than theirs. I have a cuter husband. The lies we tell ourselves when we succumb to such whims. I suppose it is human nature to wonder. But I would like to think that such nights are sparse and far in between.

I wish you all pleasant dreams. Come back soon. 

Take care!

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Get Over Your Broken Heart....

(courtesy of internet)

When your heart is aching, the world looks grey. The flowers lose their fragrance. The birds’ chirping irritates you, all you want is to toss pebbles for them to scatter as further away from you as possible. Seeing what’s right in the world has become nothing but a futile attempt. You curl into a ball in your bed as you cover your head with a blanket and nurse that ache inside of you. Right now, darkness and pain are all you know. 

For reasons you cannot fathom, you seek out that jolt inside your heart. You do it daily, seamlessly, for it has become your constant companion. Because without that ache gnawing away at you, there is nothing else. Without it, you cannot make sense of what has happened to you. You can’t explain how it is that the world has lost its meaning. Why you can’t laugh. Why you can’t be happy for others. Why you can’t celebrate their victories. Only your pain helps you to make sense of it all.

There is a reason why you, the broken-hearted will not let go of your pain. To let go of that ache means forgetting that which caused it in the first place. Did you lose your only child? To no longer grieve is to let the child go. To undermine the memories of the one whose birth you heralded with ululation, song and dance. To turn your back on the pride you felt as it lay nestling in your arms. To cease being its mother.

Did you lose your lover? The one you had come to care for deeply? The one who meant the world to you? You know letting go of your broken heart is to kiss them farewell. You know it would be the final nail in the coffin for you will have to move on with your life. Moving on means letting your once treasured memories fade. It means acknowledging that the person you once held dear to your heart no longer matters to you. It means admitting their lack of significance in your life. It means, soon, you won’t remember that special bond you once shared. You won’t recall the way they once made you laugh. The way they once made your heart surge with joy. That is the part that scares you the most, isn’t it? 

So, you hold on to that pain for as long as possible. Because keeping it buried deep in your heart justifies your anger. Your sadness. Your lack of motivation. Your persistent loss of appetite. Your insomnia. Your depression. It explains why the object of your torment is still in your life. Why you keep their photos pinned to your wall. Why you cannot open your heart to other possibilities. Why you cannot love again. Somehow, the pain you feel has become your twisted source of comfort. I am right, aren't I? 

Often, you, the broken-hearted are the master at defending the status quo. You hide away from those who tell you everything is going to be alright. You shun their words of encouragement. When they insist you will smile again. Love again. Go out again. Laugh again. Their platitudes enrage you. Patronise you. Let them try walking in your shoes. Let them experience the kind of pain that suffocates you and makes you sink daily. Let them handle the confusion and desperation that comes with holding on to the very devil that threatens your existence. I imagine you telling them. Right now, the last thing you want to hear is that your misery can be conquered. That you have the power to move on and be happy again.  

Sometimes you say things that hurt others, especially the ones you love. Those you need the most. It is not because you don't care. You do. Of course, you do. You say these things because it is the only way you know how to deal with that gripping pain inside of you. It has manifested into the dragon that spits fire. A venom that quickly spreads and destroys anything and everything in its path. As you watch the demon encroach further into your territory, you sink deeper into the black hole. You are fighting a losing battle.

Listen to me, I understand. Your soul has blackened, and you do not know how to cleanse it. You have dug yourself a deep hole from which you cannot get out. Some may suggest therapy. Some will swear by the pill. But it takes a real friend. A real friend to make you understand that only you have the power to save yourself. It takes a person who genuinely cares to utter some harsh truths to you. It takes a genuine heart to drag you out of your bed. To slap you in the face and tell you to get a grip. The kind of friend who will stand with you in your hopelessness and demand that you toughen up and face this monster. 

Because right now, tough love is what you need. Get out of bed. Wash your hair. Go outside and sniff the hope that’s out there. Because there is hope. And to borrow words from a movie - 'You shall be well. You shall be yourself again. You shall be perfectly content.'

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Tidbits About Me

If I am going to talk about myself, then let me start with my 4c natural hair.

I like accessories in my hair. Makes me feel feminine!

Sometime last year, I made the bold decision to do away with my straightened (processed) hair. What prompted this is the shock I got one day when I saw a picture of a beautiful black supermodel online whose hairline was receding. In fact, she did not have hair at the edges at all. It pained me to see this beautiful, black queen with only half her hair. That's when it hit me. I was not going to let my hair deteriorate like that. I was going to make changes to maintain my God-given natural crown. 

I've got the Afrothing going on

All black women with 4c hair like mine know that it is not the easiest to manage. However, that does not mean that processed hair or having a weave makes it any easier. Every style one chooses comes with its own challenges. For example, when I used to straighten my hair, I dreaded going to the salon because sometimes the chemicals burnt my scalp. At times it took days, even weeks, for my scalp to heal. I endured this because processing my hair made it softer and easier to manage, or so I thought. But, I have since realised that my 4c hair can be just as easy to maintain and so much fun if you know how. I now know the kind of products that gel well with my hair. Products that retain moisture and gives it a shine as well as strengthening it. Not only that, I love the different styles that come with different lengths. Short. Medium. Long. At the moment, my hair is transitioning to medium. 

  Styling can be fun    

I love that as a black woman with 4c hair, I am not restricted to one style. I can experiment with different hairstyles to suit my mood. However, preparation is crucial if I am to exploit the natural hairstyles fully. My hair needs moisture. Lots of it. Depending on the style I have in mind, I can twist it, braid it with my own hair, straighten it using wool, wrap it or simply tie it. What I now understand is that I need to give myself ample time to style my hair. Again, it all depends on the style I am going for at any one given time. Some hairstyles are easy, some time-consuming and may not always be possible to do, especially if I need to rush to work in the morning.


Natural Black African hair is the most versatile hair I know. As a black woman with 4c natural hair, I have options when it comes to what I can do with it. I for one quickly get bored with just one style, so this is ideal. Sometimes I switch to braids. Braids have been a part of Black African hair for generations. For me, the primary purpose for having braids is to protect my natural hair. If you live in a cold climate as I do, then you will know that natural 4c hair tends to become brittle and break easily. So, to protect my hair from the cruel weather elements, I braid it. It also saves me time on busy days, and it’s always a welcome change for me. Also a much-needed break from all that combing and twisting. With braids, you can be as simple or as sophisticated as you like.

Box Braids
Besides box braids and cornrows, I have also experimented with crotchet braids which give my mane a more bouncy look.When I am having a bad hair day or can't be bothered to style my own hair, I slap on a wig. All these are ways to protect natural hair from the adverse weather. Ways to spice things up a bit. 

They say, if a woman cuts her hair there's no going back. I don't know if it applies here, but the decision to cut my hair was the best decision I ever made. There's no going back for me. My edges which had begun to thin are starting to recover. Not only do I feel fantastic and more confident being able to rock my natural hair in different styles, but my hair also looks and feels healthy. I cannot wait to explore more hairstyles with my 4c hair as it continues to grow.

Come back to this blog for more tidbits about me. 

Take care!

Saturday, 9 December 2017

My Year in Books: The books that challenged me, took me places and kept me company in 2017

As the year draws to a close, I've decided to give you a list of the books that I enjoyed reading throughout the months. The list is not exhaustive, but I picked the ones that struck a chord with me and left a lasting impression. Before we get to that, let me go off on a tangent and tell you how I came up with this list.

How I select books to read.
When they tell you, a book is judged by its cover, believe them. The first thing I do upon entering a bookshop is to walk over to the shelves marked according to genre and scan for the covers that catch my eye, assuming I have not predetermined the novel I want to read. Call me superficial, but jackets have a knack for drawing me in. For me, less is more. I like to be intrigued. Challenged. Give me a puzzle that I can put together as I explore the story.

Once I spot the one, I zoom in on the title, flip the book over and read the blurb. It is true what they say about the hook. I’m always looking for that thing that arouses my curiosity and piques my interest. The promise of what I will discover inside.
Reviews make or break an author. You better believe it. Some reviewers do know how to spoil it for everybody. Some are fair, some, well, darn obnoxious. I am sympathetic when it comes to reviews because I know how it feels to be told your writing is a dud. 

I am also influenced by the author’s use of language. I like to pore over a few random pages to gauge the author's writing style. To see if their voice speaks to me. I love books that are simple and yet sophisticated. I don't want the kind of distraction that comes with trying to decipher what the author is saying (Ernest Hemmingway will be spinning in his grave). Just write what you mean, and I will thank you for it. 

Then there is word of mouth. That book on everyone’s lips. The hype on social media, radio and television. All these channels guide me to my next read.

Below is a list of the books I devoured this year, numbered according to how I rate them. I am drawn to stories that challenge my emotions. I am a sucker for love, a good murder and a cry. Also, stories that make me want to explore what I thought I knew already. Stories that make me uncomfortable and enable me to view the world from a different perspective. Sometimes I crave for tales that inject in me, some degree of nostalgia.
1. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Recommended by my daughter, this novel had me at ‘nurse.’ Where do I even begin? Critics refer to it as the To Kill a Mocking Bird of the 21st century. I agree 100 %. The story about a nurse (midwife to be exact) who could not carry out her sacred duties due to prejudice. Imagine wanting to save a child but you couldn’t because you are not allowed by the parents of that child. The nurse's only 'sin' is that she is black! The story is emotional I read it with tears rolling down my cheeks. I am a nurse so you can imagine my horror. The author, though white, did her research well. The way she addresses black people issues, her use of language. It was as if I was reading a book written by a black person. Some may feel such a story should have been written by a black person. I beg to differ. I have no doubt Jodi wrote the story that chose her. The author finishes by giving a heartrending commentary about race and our society today which meant more tears for me. I was emotionally exhausted by the time I finished reading Small Great Things. But reader, do not despair. The ending is quite encouraging.

2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.
The story that had me at the edge of my seat. Quite a thriller. The suspense in this story, how twisted things get, is what keeps you flicking through the pages. A woman vanishes, and the husband’s life spirals out of control. Throughout the novel which is told from Nick and Amy's perspectives, we are left wondering if it really is Amy playing mind tricks on her husband. It appears she is, but why? How? At one point, I thought Nick Dunne was the one framing his own wife. Again, it’s about relationships. In this instance, marriage. How certain things we do and say affect our partner. Beware. You have been warned. Gone Girl is what I call a What the heck kinda story.

3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A great read, but not for the faint-hearted. There are challenging themes and some PI words. The storyteller is inquisitive. She is one of the Finch children who is intrigued by a strange man who lives next door. Then there is Atticus, the lawyer who faces the onerous task of defending an innocent ‘nigga’ in court. Because of this, he is dubbed a Nigga Lover. You can't help but feel for Atticus, and for Tom Robinson, of course. He has been wrongly accused after all. A great read, but difficult to swallow. The author shows a great deal of courage in telling her story, and I am not surprised it took Harper Lee a while for her book see the light of day. 

4. Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
Another gripping, emotional read. A story about marriage. Love and lies. There is a lot of pain in this book. But then again many great books draw from pain, tragedy and deceit. A lot draw from the African experience. The desperation that comes with wanting a child. The need to uphold certain expectations and sacrificing one's happiness along the way. Everyone is talking about this book, so, I had to discover for myself. I’m glad I did. 

5. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
I saw this on my Twitter timeline and found myself on Amazon clicking buy. This is a story of slavery. Of broken relationships. Societal prejudices. And more. A simple read. Fast-paced and the author seems to cram a few generations into one book. An emotional read I find, but then again, who isn’t touched by the evil of slavery. I have to say though that the ending was rather abrupt for me. I was left wanting more, hoping for more. I needed closure, perhaps. Oh, well. *sighs* 

6. The Power by Naomi Alderman
I stumbled upon this title when I searched best sellers on Amazon. Men are in trouble and guess who the troublemakers are. Women. You guessed right. They have mysterious powers that kill men and boys, and it is scaring the living daylights out of them. A certain reporter is on the case. There is some weird shite going on in this book one has no choice but to discover how it all ends. Is it any wonder Barack Obama endorsed this literary masterpiece?! Loved it.

7. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
I could identify with most themes in this book. The hope that all economic migrants carry when they move to another country. The disappointments they face when they realise that it’s not what it’s cracked up to be. In the end, most long for home. Home is where the heart is. The immigrant realises that they do not have to be scared to return home. That if they try hard enough, they can dream again and make it in their own country. The main character in this book does just that. They go back home, eventually, after years of trying to make it in America. I wanted the protagonists to dream big. To have more ambition. To swing for the fence. I wanted more conflict. Stakes to rise a little higher. I craved for more drama. 

8. Under the Udala Trees by Chimelo Okparanta
It's possible this book would have eventually found its way into my hands had a friend not recommended it to me. A story about two girls who fall for each other. Unheard of during the time and place the author describes. I managed to finish the book as it addresses some real issues in our society today. Mother-daughter relationships, sexuality, sacrifice, religion and love. I am always drawn to themes that tug at my emotions. I learnt that you cannot sacrifice your happiness or change who you are to please others. You will regret, and it will haunt you until you develop the courage and resilience to go after what you want.

9. Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
I found this book, again, when I searched for best selling novels. Read the blurb, and I was hooked. A heart-warming story about lost objects that need rescuing. Each object has a story behind it. Interesting read. Kept me going as I wanted to know if the storyteller fulfilled her promise to return the lost things to their rightful owners. 

10. The Letter by Kathryn Hughes
A story about an abusive husband. About a letter that lost its way and was found years later. Love. A light read. One of those books I read when I need something to lighten my mood. Perhaps one cliché too many for me. But then again, some readers thrive on those. Just goes to show, the book business is subjective.

11. Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Another literary champion. A story about the experience of interracial couples. The relationship between two girls who come from different backgrounds and who view the world through different eyes. The author gives a realistic portrayal of Britain as a society. There are some lighter moments, but overall, I found the story somewhat depressing. Rather grim. I tend to navigate towards hope. But Zadie is undoubtedly a tremendous literary writer. 

12. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
You may be surprised I had not read this classic yet. Well, it was always at the back of my mind, and I kept putting it off for other reads. Eventually, I came around and read the novel. The author’s use of language is embellished, of course, but not in a discombobulating way. The author explores the society of the wealthy. Philandering husbands. Dreams. Tragedy. Love and complexities of relationships.

Besides the books I've listed above, I read I See You by Clare Mackintosh, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Together by Julie Cohen and the short story The Arrangements and the novella Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. 

If one of your favourites is not on my list, why don't you pick a title from my list and give it a try? You never know, it may be the book that opens your eyes and grows you. 

Happy Holidays!