Friday, February 26, 2010

Love and Cats

It’s no secret that I don’t like cats, and yet whenever I’m in the vicinity of one, it immediately crawls up to me and settles onto my lap. No matter how many times I try to push it off, it comes back. In Ghana, a litter of cats settled into my garden and refused to leave. But lately, one cat has made me realize how honest cats are. They love to be touched. Only when they feel like it, of course, which can irritate anyone who feels a need to control others.

When Yasmine is hungry, she lets me know it, though she isn’t mine. She recognizes my car, doesn’t jump on me but just waits pointedly by her bowl. Then, when she has eaten to her fill and she would like to be stroked, she climbs into my lap and rubs herself against me. No games. Just purring and rubbing. She just isn’t a slave to anyone. I watch her and suddenly I get it; she’s just like me!

Like cats, all humans have a need to cuddle next to another human being. It simply feels good. So I’m learning to show compassion. When Yasmine’s owner is on a trip and she rubs herself against me, I let her settle on my lap. I stroke her and she purrs. I’m learning that cats are intelligent and choosy and sensual.

And that’s all right by me.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A proverb a day...

The Twi-speaking people of Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire and Benin, use proverbs to adorn the speech and make it rich. Among the Akans (twi-speaking people), the skillful use of proverbs is a sign of good breeding. Here’s a proverb that spoke to me recently:

‘εreba, εreba’ na eye hu, na enya ba a εnyε hu bio.

“It’s coming, it’s coming” is what is frightful, but once it arrives, it’s no longer scary.

In other words, news of an impending event is more dreadful than the event itself. Isn’t that the truth? So we are to stop fearing for the future or what lies ahead. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Keeping Secrets

I keep wondering why it's so difficult for me to blog sometimes. I get these ideas floating inside my head, but when I sit down to write, I freeze. I think the reason is cultural and generational.

In Ghana, you don't go on Oprah and pour out your secrets. Your relatives are liable to berate you and your friends shun you. In the history of Ghana, only one writer, Francis Selormey, has written a coming of age memoir and that was when I was in elementary school. He writes about growing up with a rather enigmatic and harsh father. The book was beautifully written though, and we came to see the father's love, even if we didn't understand him. Oh, people have written personal essays here and there, but not a full, tell-all memoir. Indeed, Meri Nana Ama Danquah, a Ghanaian writer, has written a memoir about a black woman's journey through depression. But Nana Ama grew up in America and has learned to be open about her feelings. And now, I've written a coming of age memoir. I even talk about sexual discovery; heaven help me! Hopefully, I can hide behind the fact that hardly anyone will know me or bump into me.