Postcard from 2016
Much has been said about 2016 and as we are in the final hours of this very interesting year, many cannot wait to enter 2017, holding on to the hope that it will be a lot better.
Here is my postcard from 2016, as I reflect on reading, writing and the demise of a camera.
Reading: After spending most of the year discovering new fiction, I am ending 2016, reading two pieces of non-fiction which are completely dissimilar in their subject matter. Yemisi Aribisala’s Longthroat Memoirs: Soups, Sex and Nigerian Taste Buds, is exactly what the title says it is. Erik Larson’s In the Garden of the Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, also does not leave much to the imagination. Both extremely interesting reads, I find I have to read them at a rather gentle pace, in order to take everything in.
2016 will go down as the year I discovered Jojo Moyes. I still find it hard to believe that it took me this long to find out about this incredibly gifted storyteller. I stumbled on the trailer for the cinematic adaptation of her glorious book, Me Before You and decided to read it before the movie came out. As is often the case, the book is so much more better than the movie. I devoured her other books, including the follow up to Me Before You: After You, One Plus One and The Last Letter From Your Lover. Each one, left me wanting more.
Other pieces of fiction that I sunk my teeth in were Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing – an inspiring and seminal book reminiscent of Alex Haley’s Roots and also quite timely. I got to meet the author at this year’s National Book Festival in Washington D.C. and told her how much her book meant to me. While I really enjoyed her writing style, Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers, somehow rattled me in its portrayal of the African immigrant as completely vulnerable and totally ignorant. Sarah Ladipo Manyika’s Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun gave me life on a number of levels. I mean with a title like that, what else would you expect. Leye Adenle’s fast-paced action thriller Easy Motion Tourist, kept me exhilarated and Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth illustrated the power of all-surpassing love to transcend dysfunctions within families.
In 2017, I look forward to starting my fictional reading journey with Chibundu Onuzo’s Welcome to Lagos – books set in Lagos always capture my attention.
Writing: I started 2016 working on my first full-length novel. Having carved a niche for myself in the short-story genre, I feel I will not be fulfilled as a writer until I have that one novel (and maybe even more). After bouts of frustration, I also came to the realization that I did not have to write this thing in chronological chapter order. I know how I would like the the story to start and end, and if I want to write Chapter Ten before Chapter One, I can. I will always remember the fist thumping moment when it dawned on me. This after pangs of guilt and low enthusiasm as I struggled with writing. There is always something self-gratifying when you independently discover a simpler way of getting things done.
In 2016, I made a somewhat feeble attempt to revive the dying art of letter writing. The instant connectivity that technology allows has made the simplicity of putting pen to paper and sending it off in the mail, an archaic form of communication. Bearing this in mind, from my home in the U.S., I penned a letter to a childhood friend in Ibadan, and sent it off. It was received with love. While visiting Buenos Aires, I sent another letter to a friend in the U.K. That letter was never received. Here I suspect the negligence of the staff in the hotel where I stayed who, when I requested for directions to the nearest post office, insisted that I leave the letter with them and the equivalent amount of money in stamps to send my letter to its destination, with a promise to mail my letter. I would later find out that I had been conned.
BlogNiversary: In 2016, I (quietly) celebrated 10 years of blogging. I did this by transforming my website and migrating my content from Blogger to WordPress. According to my always dependable web designer – Jane Clark of Teakettica, this was long overdue. I take pride in being one of the least tech savvy bloggers around – perhaps there are others who also lay claim to this crown. So I had thoroughly enjoyed cutting my blogging teeth, so to speak, on Blogger and I will fondly remember the years spent on that platform with. Moving to WordPress is a decision that I will never regret, the ease and comfort of blogging on this platform is amazing. I also managed to categorize my content and also create new pages: La Racontrice – the Short Story Project, Inspired! and Jola Photos, which brings me to the sad news of the year.
The Demise of my Nikon: I got my Nikon camera in 2008, on the recommendation of a friend. Learning that I was going to be doing a lot of travelling that year, her simple words, ‘Get a good camera’ echoed through my system as I came to the realization, that I needed something nifty to capture some of the Kodak moments that I would be encountering. Ah, what a blissful and breathtaking journey it was.
From the beaches in Hawaii, the Cape Coast in Ghana, Cape Town in South Africa, Nantucket Island to the streets and buildings of Lagos, Abuja, Boston, Paris, Bath, London, Gorée Island, and so many other places, the Nikon was a trusted companion and served me well for eight incredible years. It’s ability to capture still images in a way I did not even imagine was possible, often left me joyfully incredulous.
I did not think much when it started acting up. Not being a seasoned photog myself, I decided to take it to the experts and presented myself and my camera at the Camera Repair Shop. It was there that I would receive the news which made me very nearly crumble into tears. The Tech Guy at the store was very sympathetic as were the other customers who saw how emotional I was to learn that what was wrong with the camera could not be fixed and I would need to replace it. Quelle Horreur! One of the other things the Tech Guy said was that, the cameras that were being made these days were not built to last and if I did get another one, I should expect the lifespan to be about the same as my previous Nikon, if not shorter. A subtle word of warning not to get too attached. So I find myself on the hunt for a new camera, with the hope that the next one will serve me as well as my former one and if it lasts longer than eight years. Tant mieux! Tomorrow is not promised, and there is beauty in enjoying the special moments that time gives us. And as I write this it is late afternoon here in the U.S. and I have already received New Year messages from friends and family in Mumbai and Auckland who have entered 2017 with grace and boundless enthusiasm. To all who are reading this, I pray for peace, love and light in every corner of your world and that it extends to your community and to the larger world and beyond.
Here’s to the magic of beginnings.