I was in an optimistic mood, encouraging a writer friend to go for larger opportunities. I turned to her and pressed, "But don't you want your work to be more out there, more present in the culture?" She thought for a moment, then asked, "What culture?" Good question.
The devil was already inside Amenze when she walked past Goodies on Awolowo Road. At first, it was squatting inside her small stomach, leaning against the walls and eating ground up groundnut from the day before. Then she felt it becoming a fuller presence from her waist, expanding through the width of her chest.
Syllables are hard and round in my mouth but my self is a shape without edges. Sentences have speech marks and indentations, so I may know the difference between speaking and thinking. There are full stops and commas, so I may know the right time to draw breath. When I read words on a page, the markers are provided for me. Living in a body is different.
Somehow in America, I became meek. At job interviews, I contorted myself to fit my interviewers’ projected ideas of Asian woman excellence: polite, good-natured, a 'team player', which is code for following orders and not making other people uncomfortable. I did it to make my parents proud.
Margate is a thirsty place. Its switchblade tide draws back so far that by the time it turns the shore is parched. Rude epithets, scrawled in chalk, line its coastal paths. Lustful and wayward, this town is wild. With a steady drip of London transplants fleeing the city’s rapacious capitalist appetite, it’s gentrifying fast. Yet Margate’s wildness persists.