I don’t think it is some mere coincidence that I am sitting here listening to Akotowaa’s #SolitareEP at work (or school cos it feels the same), and bawling. God does this to me a lot when He wants me to open my eyes and see some things for what they really are, and this time it is Me. Me. I needed to fully see me…and it was crystal clear yesterday. I find that this is going to become a two-in-one post, kind of. An appreciation of the EP, because of how I have been affected by it, almost all of it…and by so doing, saying what it is I want to say.
In March this year, The Writers’ Project of Ghana launched their second poetry anthology in which I was featured. I had to attend, to take part in the readings. I was there. I read. I got home. I cried. That night I sat up in bed, wondering what was wrong with me. Why was I feeling like I had just gone through some ordeal? Was it something else I couldn’t readily identify, and not the event itself? I talked about it with some friends. What it felt like to me, then, was some kind of aversion to being in the spotlight and having to be there and be “enjoyed” by an audience. I was not sure, however. It felt like a done deal, that I was never going to do that again. The spot was killing me, the applause was killing me…I did not understand what it was that I was going through. Now, before that event in March, I hadn’t been out to public events like that in over a year, and after that, it was not till yesterday that I was out in such a setting again. The outcome? Much more revealing.
I identify as a writer, a poet…an artist. No matter how bad I am, or delusional, that I am these…let us say I am.
Although how I related to this is from a different perspective, what happened yesterday made this particular one move me much more deeply than it may have, had I not experienced what I did.
- It took me days to decide that I was going to go for the literary event at Springfield Gardens yesterday, mainly because I felt I had stayed away from such for too long, and it would be good to try and be out there before the year ends.
- I intended to go as an audience, not to go read or perform, or be anywhere near the spotlight.
- I made these clear to anyone who asked.
- I planned to leave before night fell, because I know my body.
This is what happened.
- I was happy I decided to go, because I met awesome people I was looking forward to meeting. I do not regret it.
- I was in control of the evening, going at my pace, and enjoying it.
- Then I hit a wall.
Pause. I hit a wall. The event was supposed to end at 7pm. We started at 3pm roughly. I hit a wall at 5.30pm. I did not want to be there anymore, and it wasn’t even because of my body (although I had started getting cold, and was starving because I had not been able to eat the whole day cos I had nursed a migraine and nausea that morning, had popped my pills before leaving home, and it was not till we were on the bus to the venue that it subsided). It was because I felt strongly that I had reached a limit, and I did not want to be there anymore. I desperately wanted to vanish. But this is what happened: just around the time I felt the need to not be there, the MC called my name. What for? To go perform or do a reading. I was not there for that. I was not ready for that. Who did that to me?
For the next 30 seconds, my mind went in so many directions. I thought of declining. Meanwhile, the crowd went loud when they heard my name, and folks were cheering and so I was also wondering “Why are they doing this to/for me?” And they wouldn’t stop, or listen to me, because I kept saying “I have nothing to share. I did not come for this. Who did this?” They were just cheering. And then I was also thinking, there are people I care about here and they are also cheering. Should I do this for them? What do I read? Do I want to do this? Do I want to walk up on stage? And read? No I don’t want to! But then I stepped down from where I was seated and made my way to the stage (and walking there was killing me partly because I was doing something every part of me did not want to do, and partly because some members of the audience had decided to come whooping all the way to the stage, behind me) It was killing me. But I went up on stage. And I read a poem I wrote in both Twi and English titled DUST..it was a random pick, but it was not a coincidence that that was what I picked. And I came down…applause killing me…spotlight killing me…that was not why I was there.
I left about ten minutes after that, grouchy as hell, and drained. Walking home, I recalled the evening, considered myself as an artist, and I felt unacknowledged although in a way I was “
acknowledged”. Do people just see “A writer” or “A poet” or “An artist” and not consider that this is a HUMAN writer, a HUMAN poet, or a Human artist? So that at least that will make them more attentive…more sensitive? Yes I wrote that and I know you’d love to hear me read it, but can we not make it about you all the time? Don’t be selfish, don’t kill me. please. Listening to Undeath of the Artist on the EP this morning…this made sense;
“I used to misplace my priorities
Linking my thinking
to people who placed their opinions upon mine…”
Because I realize I did not just start disliking this…I used to do it anyway, but that was not me. I am an artist but I want to be in the audience, all the time…most of the time, and it would do me and my art a lot of good, if everyone respected that…if people saw Amma Konadu and not “the Amma Konadu”…whoever that is. I am tired.
I don’t understand this make up. Me. Why am I like this? I do not know. There are layers and deep faults, and too many people are bent on labeling people, lumping one in a sinlge category but I look at myself and I am not “straightforward”. I make silly mistakes, I hurt people, I love fiercely and stay loving most of the time, I forgive while bleeding, I can’t help it. I tell lies…I omit truths…I stay silent. I want to be great, and not great. I want to leave this place unknown and known. I see my purpose clearly, and then I get discouraged. Rage…depression…encouragement…hope. I am a complex package. I don’t think anyone cares about all that once you an artist. You cannot slip…you cannot fall…just satisfy us and let us go about town telling of your greatness. “Why don’t we see you enough???” Well half the time I can barely move in bed. I do not want to come and be so fatigued I become grouchy and everyone can tell from how I can’t hide my wincing, that I am in pain. I WILL STAY HOME AND MISS IT AND BE SAD ABOUT IT yet content somehow, cos I know it would not have been enjoyable anyway if I had been there because conditions suitable for my make up will hardly ever happen. Ideal is rare. I am tired. I am tired.
“I get frustrated,
People make me agitated…”
I wanted to kill myself before I died.
The road was too long, and I just felt too tired.
It’s hard being misunderstood
When you don’t understand yourself,
And life is hard,
But now this:
“Sometimes it takes years to learn how to be comfortable in your own skin
to realise that this body is the same flesh you will live and die in.”
So I opened my eyes and saw me for who I am. Yes, sometimes it takes years. Yesterday weirdly made me aware of how much people run away from people, yet they are standing right there. You get to the point where you need to be okay with you. Learn to like yourself. I often get frustrated when my loved ones do not seem to understand, I forget that they are not in this skin. How can I blame them? I find that all this time I had been running with them, away from me,
“Forgetting the fact that we are the one person we cannot run away from.”
Why, we all have our crosses to bear. I cannot make other people’s lives about me, they have theirs to live. My shortcomings and failures; fears and pain and death; and then love and light and God; and hope and resilience and passion, have opened my eyes to the fact that
“[I] know how to be by [my]self.
…how to be without.
…how to be within [my]self
…how to be.”
And from what happened yesterday and what I learned about me, it is okay if it does not get better out there, I do know how to take care of myself. I know how to handle my complexities, and live with me. I understand that;
“Sometimes, comfort in your own skin means being okay with walking alone…
It is being okay with liking yourself.”
I opened my eyes. And I saw me.
P.S : Thank you, Akotowaa. I love you.