on loneliness


someone has asked me why i shared the passage on loneliness in the previous post. it isn't a subject i relish discussing, though i must confess that my journey in nigeria in recent months has at times been an emotionally taxing and lonely one. it's not a common thing in ibibio culture to talk about the past, let alone write about it. we are still largely living an oral history. the fact that i'm writing at all--about my family's history, no less--makes me odd, even solitary.

while i usually could care less about going it alone, this week it finally got the better of me, after a disappointing interview with a couple of nuns, former students of my mother's, that i'd traveled over an hour to meet. they were at a voters registration center, too busy to really talk and, at the end of it all, refused to let me take their picture because they weren't 'well dressed.'

i was fed up. tired of explaining to other people, who would rather not disturb the ground, why i am digging into the past, why i want to write it down, why i'm asking questions about things they find it hard or painful to remember; tired of making countless trips to the village, meeting strangers who didn't like the way i dressed or how i talked, and having to smile and coax them into talking anyway; tired of trying to piece my mother's life together from the most paltry of details, a faded picture, and my overtaxed imagination; and tired of the very act of writing itself, of going deep into memory and the past, which is its own loneliness.

when i got back from my meeting with the nuns, i lay in bed the rest of the day alternately crying and staring blankly at the television. enough. i had gone as far as i could conceivably go and simply wasn't going to do any more. i was going back to new york to eat sushi and vegan chocolate cake. what the hell was i doing in akwa ibom, anyways?

as i lay there despairing, i opened my copy of wild mind and found the chapter on loneliness staring up at me. i really needed the reminder that it is only loneliness (and fatigue and frustration) and should not 'toss me away' from the work. it is a necessary means to an end. it is not forever; nor is it death. it would be a far worse fate to avoid the discomfort and, in my final hours, despair that i wasn't brave enough to go there, to sit there, to write and do something positive for my own soul. --AL.

You Might Also Like


  1. Keep pushing...with strong determination, you will achieve your goal.

  2. I salute your courage to push while it would've been easier to give up or let go. I hope it becomes easier, but the true reward like you noted is fulfilling yourself.


Popular Posts


+1 347 857 9224