I looked at a girl and she reached down to cover her cleavage, her fingers pulling at the neckline of her blouse as though I were a man. Maybe I am. I live on a campus where buildings float on water and I still don’t love it. Maybe I would love it if my friend were still here. Your mum looks down on me, I should say. She wishes I was white.
Maybe because I wish I were white.
Which I don’t. Which would mean a fight and I have not gathered enough momentum yet. My whole existence is a fuck you to the rigidness of these systems, their jaws set in place like iron. So I am always fighting. Imagine fighting. When I accept I am a dead man walking I stop fighting. Which means the systems are crumbling. Which means there’s nothing like blind optimism. Which means - I have not separated myself from myself but from the idea of myself which is
I once described myself as a dancing thing: I am Toni Morrison dancing carefree, big tits hanging like mangoes. Toni Morrison danced braless in the wake of her working and I found liberation there. A. was my liberation.
I mean it that she was.
Brilliant Nigerian Writer, she wrote as the subject of the email she sent to an editor who said, This isn’t quite right for us. That is to say, You are not quite right for us. That is to say, You are not quite good enough.
A. speaks of resonance. Every time she writes, she writes of spaces interspersed with lovers. Every time she speaks of lovers, I wonder if it’s the lover we shared. We share a lover, she said to me when she was still a stranger. Huh? I thought.
I spent hours after school spinning complex character portraits of fantasy families as I danced around the garden of my father’s church, alone, she wrote.
When she sleeps, her tongue dances in her mouth and I can hear the sound. I used to like the dark but she taught me to draw the blinds and crack the windows. Now I only want to see darkness at night and even then, the sky is still blue.
There is a period I am in love with this city. A small city town set at the outskirts of the world, brimming with forest, I write of it in my fiction. I wanted this to be fiction so bad. But I followed my heart. And this is how A. saved me. By saying normativity is kind of bullshit.
(Be oddd. Be so odddddd, you become the goddess of all things oddtanstic / or fantastic.)
Which is to say be yourself.
And we are all so odd.
I am nonbinary and dating a man.
His mother visited us one weekend and I came late because I was off in Amsterdam chasing my dreams. She had cleaned and cooked by the time I arrived. The next day, I opened my laptop to write some words and at that point she suggested we should cook.
(A. said she wouldn’t work in front of people because she can feel their mental constraints.
Me? I am haphazard.)
She asked about Nigerian history in the context of Europe and I said: Oh yeah, we were colonized by the British. Those Africans with clear skin and nice hair, she said - talking about Africans that could pass for white. I fought the urge to run and look at myself in the mirror: my unclear skin, my wooly hair. What if she had said what she said and I had heard what I heard. My insecurities infusing her speech with meaning. Later, she would ask her son if he was sure about me/
I know it was the way I sliced onions like I had no bone in my hands
He would say, I’ve never been more compatible with anyone ma.
In December, I would get on a plane from Schiphol to Murtala and find my way into my mother’s embrace. Maybe I will show off my new self or my old-new piercing. It’s the second time I’ve had my septum pierced. The first time hurt so much I couldn’t even touch my nose.
The second one is beautiful and painless and this is why I must show it off.
I guess sometimes moving countries makes sense.
If the piercer is kind and affordable and they pierce your nose without blood, then it makes sense that you had to leave your own country.
Afopefoluwa Ojo is a writer, multimedia artist and creative technologist who currently lives and works in Amsterdam. Through their work, they are interested in exploring themes of otherness, spirituality, multiplicity, and experiments with form, language, and the lyrical.