chimamanda adichie: quality street


One of my favorite online literary mags has a piece up by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It has been published before under different cover.

I won't comment, lest I be accused of bemoaning my literary failures again, but one of the passages really tickled me. Like the protagonist, I also sport dreadlocks and refuse to eat meat. ;)

Excerpt from Quality Street, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
guest-edited by Claire Messud

...Perhaps Sochienne should never have been sent to school in America. But who knew a private university in Ohio would mean that Sochienne would return six years later, announcing that she was engaged to a Kenyan, refusing to eat meat, asking the baffled houseboys about fair wages, and wearing her hair in long rubbery dreadlocks. What should have alerted Mrs. Njoku, she realized now, was discovering, on her first visit to her daughter’s university, that the students wore bathroom slippers to their lectures. Oh, mummy, they are wearing sandals because of this rare blast of warm weather, Sochienne said when she pointed it out, as though giving bathroom slippers the American label of sandals would make them more respectable. There was, also, a certain alarming sloppiness to the students. Mrs. Njoku had been assured that wealthy Americans sent their children there—the outrageous tuition certainly suggested that—but here were young people in slouchy T-shirts and discolored beads around their necks. Still, she had not worried too much about her daughter then, nor did she in the following years, because she assumed that the child she raised would retain her good sense. She had wanted Sochienne to be educated in England after completing primary school and had suggested that they send her to Cheltenham Ladies College, where many of their friends sent their daughters, but her husband said Sochienne would not go abroad until university because he did not want her to turn out like those Akindele children who had spent so long in England that they referred to fellow Nigerians as “those people.” He wanted his daughter to attend secondary school in Nigeria so that she would know who she was. Most of all, he wanted her to get an American university education. America was the future. It was time for Nigerians to get over their colonial clinging. Mrs. Njoku should have resisted more. If only her husband were alive now to see what Sochienne had become; so much for knowing who she was...

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