IT IS OBSCENE: A TRUE REFLECTION IN THREE PARTS

PART ONE

When you are a public figure, people will write and say false things about you. It comes with the territory. Many of those things you brush aside. Many you ignore. The people close to you advise you that silence is best. And it often is. Sometimes, though, silence makes a lie begin to take on the shimmer of truth.

In this age of social media, where a story travels the world in minutes, silence sometimes means that other people can hijack your story and soon, their false version becomes the defining story about you.

Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it, as Jonathan Swift wrote.

Take the case of a young woman who attended my Lagos writing workshop some years ago; she stood out because she was bright and interested in feminism.

After the workshop, I welcomed her into my life. I very rarely do this, because my past experiences with young Nigerians left me wary of people who are calculating and insincere and want to use me only as an opportunity. But she was a Bright Young Nigerian Feminist and I thought that was worth making an exception.

She spent time in my Lagos home. We had long conversations. I was support-giver, counsellor, comforter.

Then I gave an interview in March 2017 in which I said that a trans woman is a trans woman, (the larger point of which was to say that we should be able to acknowledge difference while being fully inclusive, that in fact the whole premise of inclusiveness is difference.)

I was told she went on social media and insulted me.

This woman knows me enough to know that I fully support the rights of trans people and all marginalized people. That I have always been fiercely supportive of difference, in general. And that I am a person who reads and thinks and forms my opinions in a carefully considered way.

Of course she could very well have had concerns with the interview. That is fair enough. But I had a personal relationship with her. She could have emailed or called or texted me. Instead she went on social media to put on a public performance.

I was stunned. I couldn’t believe it. But I mostly held myself responsible. My spirit had been slightly stalled, from the beginning, by her. My first sense of unease with her came when she posted a photo taken in my house, at a time when I did not want any photos of my personal life on social media. I asked that she take it down. The second case of unease was her publicizing something I had told her in confidence about another member of the workshop. The most upsetting was when she, without telling me, used my name to apply for an American visa. Above all else was my lingering suspicion that she was a person who chose as friends only those from whom she could benefit. But she was a Bright Young Nigerian Feminist and I allowed that sentiment to over-ride my unease.

After she publicly insulted me, it was clear to me that this kind of noxious person had no business in my life, ever again.

A few months later, she sent this affected, self-regarding email which I ignored.

Friday September 15 2017 at 4.35 AM
Dearest Chimamanda,
Happy birthday. I mean this with all my heart, even though I know I have fallen (removed myself?) from your grace. It would be impossible for me to stop loving you; long before you gave me the possibility of being your friend you were the embodiment of my deepest hopes, and that will never change.
I think of you often, still – stating the obvious. I grieve the loss of our friendship; it is a complicated sadness. I’m sorry that I caused you pain, or to feel like you can no longer trust me. There’s so much that I wish could be said.
I pray this birthday is the happiest one yet. I wish you rest and quiet and abiding stability, and of course more of the kind of success that means the most to you.
I hope mothering X is everything you hoped and prayed for and more.
Have a wonderful day today.
Love always.

About a year later, she sent this email, which I also ignored.

Thursday November 29 2018 at 8.42 AM
Dear Chimamanda,
I realise this is long overdue and vastly insufficient, but I’m really sorry. I’ve spent so much time going back and forth in my head and my email drafts; wondering whether to write you, how to write you, what to say, all kinds of things. But in the end, this is the thing I realise I need to say.
I’m sorry I disappointed and hurt you by saying things publicly that were sharply critical, unkind and even disrespectful, especially in light of all the backlash and criticism you experience from people who don’t know you. I could have acted with more consideration towards you. I should have, especially given the privilege of intimacy that you had offered me. There are many reasons why I chose to behave the way I did, but none of them is an excuse. And I clearly realise now, after many, many months of needless sadness and angst and hurt and actual confusion, that I did not treat you as a friend would—certainly not as someone would to whom you had offered unprecedented access to yourself and your life.
You’ve meant the world to me since I was barely a teenager. It’s been very hard navigating the emotional fallout of the past several months, knowing you were displeased with me but truly not quite understanding why, then deciding I didn’t care, then realising that would never be true. I’ve always cared. But I was too mixed up about the situation to be able to make sense of it, or properly see past my own justifications. I’m sorry it took me so long to grasp how I let you down.
I realise that I don’t have room to ask anything of you, but I would be grateful for a chance to say this in person. Still, even if I never get that, I really hope you believe me.
Congratulations on restarting the workshop, and on all the other amazing successes of the past several months. I think of you often; it would be impossible not to. You look so happy in your pictures. I really hope you are well.
All my love,

I hoped never to hear from her again. But she has recently gone on social media to write about how she “refused to kiss my ring,” as if I demanded some kind of obeisance from her. She also suggests that there is some dark, shadowy ‘more’ to tell that she won’t tell, with an undertone of “if only you knew the whole story.”

It is a manipulative way of lying. By suggesting there is ‘more’ when you know very well that there isn’t, you do sufficient reputational damage while also being able to plead deniability. Innuendo without fact is immoral.

No, there isn’t more to the story. It is a simple story – you got close to a famous person, you publicly insulted the famous person to aggrandize yourself, the famous person cut you off, you sent emails and texts that were ignored, and you then decided to go on social media to peddle falsehoods. It is obscene to tell the world that you refused to kiss a ring when in fact there isn’t any ring at all.

I cannot make much of the hostility of strangers who do not know me – fame taints our view of the humanity of famous people. But the truth is that the famous person remains irretrievably human. Fame does not inoculate the famous person from disappointment and depression, fame does not make you any less angered or hurt by the duplicitous nature of people. To be famous is to be assumed to have power, which is true, but in the analysis of fame, people often ignore the vulnerability that comes with fame, and they are unable to see how others who have nothing to lose can lie and connive in order to take advantage of that fame, while not giving a single thought to the feelings and humanity of the famous person.

And when you personally know a famous person, when you have experienced their humanity, when you have benefited from their kindness, and yet you are unable to extend to them the basic grace and respect that even a casual acquaintanceship deserves, then it says something fundamental about you.

And in a deluded way, you will convince yourself that your hypocritical, self-regarding, compassion-free behavior is in fact principled feminism. It isn’t. You will wrap your mediocre malice in the false gauziness of ideological purity. But it’s still malice. You will tell yourself that being able to parrot the latest American Feminist orthodoxy justifies your hacking at the spirit of a person who had shown you only kindness. You can call your opportunism by any name, but it doesn’t make it any less of the ugly opportunism that it is.



PART TWO

When I first read this person’s work, which was their application to my writing workshop, I thought the sentences were well-done. I accepted this person. At the workshop, I thought they could have been more respectful of the other participants, perhaps not kept typing dismissively as others’ stories were discussed, with an air of being among people below their level. After the workshop, I decided to select the best stories, edit them, pay the writers a fee, and publish them in an e-magazine. The first story I chose was this person’s. I wrote a glowing introduction, which the story truly deserved.

They sent this email.

Fri, Aug 7, 2015, 8:20 AM
Thank you so much for that introduction. It means so much to me and I’m going to keep reading it to get through the rest of my stay at Syracuse. I sent it to my mother and she got nervous about the piece because you said ‘it disturbs’, said she’s not sure how she’s going to feel when she reads it. But she’s also one of those ‘let’s leave the past in the past’ people. My sister approved, which meant a lot because our childhoods were each other’s.
All that to say, I’m so grateful you gave me the space to write the short version of this piece, the encouragement to write the longer piece, and now, a platform for it. I definitely have plans to write more about Aba.
Thank you, with all my heart.
PS- I wanted to sign off gratefully + gracefully in Igbo but I said let me not fall my own hand 🙂

About a year later, they sent another email to let me know that their novel would be published.

Wed, Jun 8, 2016, 8:20 AM
Greetings!
I hope all’s been well with you this past year. Belated congratulations on the baby’s arrival, I hope she’s being a delight (I’m sure she is), and on the Johns Hopkins honors.
I was thinking about how this time last year, I’d just received the email from you about Farafina and I wanted to reach out with a quick update. I’ve just accepted an offer for the novel I excerpted as my application and it feels like the workshop was a catalyst for the events that’ve led me here. So, thank you, for the workshop and your words and the Olisa TV series and listening to me babble on about my story at the hotel. I deeply appreciate all of it and you.
All my best,

Before the novel was published, I spoke of it to some people, to help it get attention. I had not been able to finish reading it. I found the writing beautiful, but the story false-hearted and burdened by bathos. When I spoke of the novel, however, it was the former sentiment that I expressed, never the latter.

After I gave the March 2017 interview in which I said that a trans woman is a trans woman, I was told that this person had insulted me on social media, calling me, among other things, a murderer. I was deeply upset, because while I did not really know them personally, I felt they knew what I stood for and that I fully supported the rights of trans people, and that I do not wish anybody dead.

Still, I took no action. I ignored the public insult.

When this person’s publishers sent me an early copy of their novel, I was surprised to see that my name was included in their cover biography. I had never seen that done in a book before. I didn’t like that I had not been asked for permission to use my name, but most of all I thought – why would a person who thinks I’m a murderer want my name so prominently displayed in their biography?

Then I learned that, because my name was in the cover biography, a journalist had called them my “protegee” and they then threw a Twitter tantrum about it, calling it clickbait, viciously disavowing having received any help from me.

I knew this person had called me a murderer, I knew they were actively campaigning to “cancel” me and tweeting about how I should no longer be invited to speak at events. But this I felt I could not ignore.

I sent an email to my representative:

From: Chimamanda Adichie
Date: Wed, Feb 14, 2018 at 2:06 PM

I’m writing about X

She attended my Lagos workshop two years ago and I selected hers as one of a few pieces I published after the workshop.

Apparently I was referred to as her ‘mentor’ and/or she was referred to as my ‘protege,’ in some articles, which led to her tweeting about it. Her tweets were forwarded to me by friends. In them, she reacted quite viscerally to my being called her ‘mentor’ and her being my ‘protege.’ To be fair, she is not technically my ‘protege,’ and it is perfectly fine that she feels this way, but her ungracious tone and the ugliness of the energy spent on her tweets surprised me.

I recently received her book and noticed that my name was included in her official book bio. I was stunned. Surely if she is so strongly averse to my being considered a person who has been significant in her career, (which is my understanding of the loose use of protege/mentor) then it is unseemly to make the choice to include my name in her bio. I found it unusual, as I don’t think I’ve seen it done before in a book bio, but I also now find it unacceptably cynical.

It is only reasonable for a person who sees my name as it is used in her bio — ‘her work has been selected and edited by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’ — to assume some sort of mentor/protege relationship.

To publicly disavow this with a tone bordering on hostility and at the same time so baldly use my name to sell her book is utterly unacceptable to me.

I’d like you to please reach out to her publishers and ask that my name be removed from her official book bio. I refuse to be used in this way.

Chimamanda

After contacting her publishers, my representative wrote:

They have asked whether your preference would be to remove the Acknowledgment to you in the back of the book also, in future reprints.

I replied:

I don’t think that is my decision to take, and so will not answer either way, although it would be ideal if she herself made the decision to do so.

On the subject of how to go about it, I was absolutely determined not to be used by this person, but I was also sensitive to the costs the publisher might incur, as this was not in any way the publisher’s fault. Instead of pulping the already printed copies, I asked that the jackets be stripped and rebound. To my representative I wrote:

I’m completely determined that I not be used in this opportunistic and hypocritical way. But I want to make sure to proceed reasonably.

I was assured that my name would be removed and I moved on.

But from time to time, I would be informed of yet another social media post in which this person had attacked me.

This person has created a space in which social media followers have – and this I find unforgiveable – trivialized my parents’ death, claiming that the sudden and devastating loss of my parents within months of each other during this pandemic, was ‘punishment’ for my ‘transphobia.’

This person has asked followers to pick up machetes and attack me.

This person began a narrative that I had sabotaged their career, a narrative that has been picked up and repeated by others.

The normal response would be to ignore it all, because this person is seeking attention and publicity to benefit themselves. Claiming that I have sabotaged their career is a lie and this person knows that it is a lie. But if something is repeated often enough, in this age in which people do not need proof or verification to run with a story, especially a story that has outrage potential, then it can easily begin to seem true.

My addressing this lie will indeed get this person some attention – may they bask in it.

Here is the truth: I was very supportive of this writer. I didn’t have to be. I wasn’t asked to be. I supported this writer because I believe we need a diverse range of African stories.

Sabotaging a young writer’s career is just not my style; I would get no benefit or satisfaction from it. Asking that my name be removed from your biography is not sabotaging your career. It is about protecting my boundaries of what I consider acceptable in civil human behavior.

You publicly call me a murderer AND still feel entitled to benefit from my name?

You use my name (without my permission) to sell your book AND then throw an ugly tantrum when someone makes a reference to it?

What kind of monstrous entitlement, what kind of perverse self-absorption, what utter lack of self-awareness, what unheeding heartlessness, what frightening immaturity makes a person act this way?

Besides, a person who genuinely believes me to be a murderer cannot possibly want my name on their book cover, unless of course that person is a rank opportunist.



PART THREE

In certain young people today like these two from my writing workshop, I notice what I find increasingly troubling: a cold-blooded grasping, a hunger to take and take and take, but never give; a massive sense of entitlement; an inability to show gratitude; an ease with dishonesty and pretension and selfishness that is couched in the language of self-care; an expectation always to be helped and rewarded no matter whether deserving or not; language that is slick and sleek but with little emotional intelligence; an astonishing level of self-absorption; an unrealistic expectation of puritanism from others; an over-inflated sense of ability, or of talent where there is any at all; an inability to apologize, truly and fully, without justifications; a passionate performance of virtue that is well executed in the public space of Twitter but not in the intimate space of friendship.

I find it obscene.

There are many social-media-savvy people who are choking on sanctimony and lacking in compassion, who can fluidly pontificate on Twitter about kindness but are unable to actually show kindness. People whose social media lives are case studies in emotional aridity. People for whom friendship, and its expectations of loyalty and compassion and support, no longer matter. People who claim to love literature – the messy stories of our humanity – but are also monomaniacally obsessed with whatever is the prevailing ideological orthodoxy. People who demand that you denounce your friends for flimsy reasons in order to remain a member of the chosen puritan class.

People who ask you to ‘educate’ yourself while not having actually read any books themselves, while not being able to intelligently defend their own ideological positions, because by ‘educate,’ they actually mean ‘parrot what I say, flatten all nuance, wish away complexity.’

People who do not recognize that what they call a sophisticated take is really a simplistic mix of abstraction and orthodoxy – sophistication in this case being a showing-off of how au fait they are on the current version of ideological orthodoxy.

People who wield the words ‘violence’ and ‘weaponize’ like tarnished pitchforks. People who depend on obfuscation, who have no compassion for anybody genuinely curious or confused. Ask them a question and you are told that the answer is to repeat a mantra. Ask again for clarity and be accused of violence. (How ironic, speaking of violence, that it is one of these two who encouraged Twitter followers to pick up machetes and attack me.)

And so we have a generation of young people on social media so terrified of having the wrong opinions that they have robbed themselves of the opportunity to think and to learn and to grow.

I have spoken to young people who tell me they are terrified to tweet anything, that they read and re-read their tweets because they fear they will be attacked by their own. The assumption of good faith is dead. What matters is not goodness but the appearance of goodness. We are no longer human beings. We are now angels jostling to out-angel one another. God help us. It is obscene

Click here to read article on Chimamanda’s website

Of course I don’t want to be normal

So I’m writing this as a result of asking my friends on WhatsApp what topic to write on. I don’t even know why they selected this but here’s an attempt to a bad decision.

Not like I try to come out as different of any sort, but when you almost all through your life hear the same thing, sooner or later it definitely would become your reality.

I remember sometime in secondary school or high school as some call it, I was either the butt of jokes or I was making one. You really couldn’t place me amongst the loudest or gloomy kids but I just had my own presence, neither did I come out tops in school work I just hovered around my own space.
I remember how it used to be, my skinny self with the big head. Felt like a human letter i or something. My classmates made all kinds of jokes about me, from my not so kind looks to my surname. High school wasn’t a very good experience I’m not going to lie. One thing I remember was despite my short comings in the looks and books department, I was still highly rated amongst my mates and some teachers (except for my maths teacher, and generally anything that had to do with calculations).
High school was crazy for me but I survived despite not belonging to any particular class.

Same thing at home, I never was really able to play street football because of how lanky I was and all the comments people made at how badly I fared in the game, but in my imaginations I made all the right moves, I just was never able to replicate same on the field, crazy times I remember. In my spare time I gulped every available information on the sport, I just was never good enough to play it, same with the jokes. I was always the best item to make a joke with, although my perspective on life has made me come to see that a lot of it was just sheer bullying but I’m very much thankful for the times. It has definitely shaped me.

The truth is; I suffered from complex, it’s been a fight within myself not to look down on myself but I definitely wouldn’t blame another man for how I turned out.

Uni days went with the same pattern, I must say I dressed terribly during my short spell, absolutely zero fashion sense, I just wanted the good vibes, and fashion wasn’t part of the good vibe. Eccentric would best describe me. Made a few friends but I’m happy that a lot of people who I could connect with connected with me not because there was a materialistic gain but something much more, might not be able to expressly tell, but I guess I had an aura.

Over time I’ve come to appreciate the me now and life experiences has shaped me into the man I am now, I absolutely wouldn’t change me if I had the chance, I’d just make a few improvements. Not being moved by what move the lot is something to be proud of, and at that I’m super proud.

Ask me if I ever want to be normal? Of course I don’t want to be normal.

Avoid that trending topic (it’s just as bad for your mental health)

If you’re familiar with Twitter, I bet you know how new topics and hot takes are served almost every minute.
Some topics can be so relatable you’d be tempted to share your opinions and perspective on the matter while some others might just be over you.
I’d rightly say the best place to find jokes; premium jokes at that is Twitter, the same goes to finding the smarty pants, the cringe worthy news and all that internet stuff. Can only be Twitter.A lot of times I’m tempted to drop my own opinions on the matter and sometimes too I just scroll past. Helps a lot I must tell.
Dealing with strangers on the internet is extreme sports to say the least. A lot of people sit down and unload nuclear weapon like gist, sometimes I believe these things are done for clout chasing but not absolutely ruling out that there are genuine stories out there but c’mon man is it really worth it adding your own voice to some opinions?Not going to make references but there are times when in the name of banter, people drop bombshells on each other. I could bet my last quid not everyone on the internet’s got thick skin to handle some vile words thrown at them.A younger me would probably want to engage in premium banter and all that Twitter dragging, not until I began to understand what mental health issues were; every now and again you hear people who fall to depression and I bet a handful of them could be traced to what they were told. In a time when internet bullying is almost normal and you have to be savage enough to hold your fort, no one calls out bullies anymore it’s now bants for bants or “gbas gbos” as my Nigerian Twitter would best put it. I believe the collective effort to save each other from whatever the devil is cooking is to just scroll past. I do this often and it has helped me personally.You never know how tough your skin is till someone shoots some darting words your way that’ll have you questioning your existence. Jokes are a large part of why we use the internet and we almost can’t do a thing about it, but being selectively available to what we come across on social media and every other place is largely our part to play. There are lots of other engaging content and they too deserve the attention.God forbids that in the name of bantering we push someone not as “tough” down to depression.
May we all be responsible!

So I’m back writing

Writing shouldn’t be this hard. This I’ve been musing to myself for a while now. This used to be pretty easy; remembering how I could put my thoughts in words even if it never was near perfect. But I still remember I could say my mind with just my pen or my finger hunting and pecking the keyboard of my laptop. It’s been years now and I feel totally washed out.

I still am struck by a few thoughts worthy of being recorded and stored somewhere that’s nowhere in what we tech savvy people (not like we’re some elite sorta humans or anything) call the “cloud” but I’ve been caught up with life and all its unexpected packages. It’s been crazy, but I guess I’ve turned out just fine.

The last time I wrote something on this blog, I wasn’t a photographer at least. Oops! Now you know. Not like I’ve struck gold at it though; progress has been hella slow but it’s been one helluva ride and I’m enjoying it and I don’t plan to stop.

Although it’s taken me days to finally decide on how I’d start writing again. I’d say this decision has been helped by the mandatory stay at home the whole world has been on. If you’re reading this you prolly know why. Although I do not see myself as one with a writing style, I certainly know I’m going to be as fluid as I naturally am. So if you’re here, be ready to swim in the ocean of my thoughts. Don’t be scared though: you won’t drown.

I’m already tired from all this writing but before I sign off to some other unserious business, I must say I’m glad I started this writing thing again. At least some bit of positivity from all the negatives happening in the world. I hope I didn’t bore you out, and if I did, I hope you find enough air in you to survive the next bad writing I punish you with. Until my next blog post; please stay safe, wash your hands and maintain social distancing.

PS. I shot the picture you just saw

Half Of Me

When I read this piece, I couldn’t help but ask Stephen to allow me copy. 

I hope you feel his emotions like I felt.

.
To you, yes, YOU!

.

HALF OF ME.

.

When we was together

you thought you had all of me,

but half of me didn’t trust you

that half of me stayed free.

.

Now we are no longer together

one half of me has second sight,

and that half I now believe in

because that half of me was right.

.

So if you think my heart is breaking

because now we are apart,

you are sadly mistaken

because you only had half to start.

.

But I am a whole person

someone you will never know,

I kept half of me with me

your half you have let go.

.

So today I am a free man

and that’s how I plan to stay,

but if I meet the right person

your half I will give away.

Written by my good friend Stephen.

I just want to write

Sometimes I write

Yes sometimes i don’t even know why the heck I want to write

And most times I don’t even write

But when I write

It’s like a million feelings in one

Surging through my fingers

I don’t know if its because you might read it

I write hoping a few thousand would read it

Or a million

Maybe even a billion

Heck, the internet has got well over a billion curious minds

I just might resonate with them this time

Or maybe I just write because I want to complain

I want some stranger yonder to feel my pain

Sometimes I write, bustling with inspiration

I just might be useful to someone out there

I just might make someone reach deep into their inner self

And possibly discover strengths unknown they posses

Sometimes I write because I’m pained

And the only thing willing to listen to my ramblings has been always been a sheet of paper

Dare I say my smartphone, my PC

But she ain’t smart after all

She tells me to recharge

Battery low she screams

Till I can bear no more

When I play dumb, she goes into a sound sleep

She leaves me hanging just when I want to reveal my deepest thoughts or pain

Her maker obviously conspired to leave me with no one to trust but myself

I write when I’m filled with gossip

And not one trustworthy to share with

Sometimes I write and I trash

Too afraid of what you might find

Things so demeaning

About you, or maybe myself

You’d be too scared for humankind

I write because it’s a very lonely planet I live in

Too many false friendships

Too many failed hopes

I write because I’m selfish

And would only share with my book

I write because there no one willing to listen

They probably just want some new tale to discuss

I write because it’s become my solace

When everything seems awry

Most times I’m too lazy to write

But I really just want to write

In all these chaos 

I just want to write.

Lovers at war

This is dedicated to everyone who by some reason is at war with someone they love.

I hope you find joy once more and get your relationship rekindled.

What happened to the times before the anguish

All the laughter and play

Just before you became snobbish

You been spending time with the neighbours

They hate us I know

Our union has never been in their favour

They’ve filled your mind with every unnecessary evil

They told you all men are the same

You believed them, you deemed me the devil.
What happened to the times before the arguments

Days you’d rather spend with me, you spent listen to them

Their filthy lies they fed you

They just wanted you to be lonely like them

They wished for the life you had

Their wanton lives made wouldn’t allow it be

So they sought to destroy yours

How could we be so deeply in love they thought

They just wanted to drag you down to their level
What happened to the times when you started putting up attitudes

I should have loved you more

But I chose to die in solitude

I thought you needed space

Not knowing I left you to the wolves

You sought counsel from people with no life

I blame myself for not doing enough to protect you

I want us back

Life is miserable without you.

My Fault?

Is it my fault

That things haven’t worked out the wway we planned them to

Is it my fault

That I’ve not been paying child support

Is it my fault

That holding down a regular job is like hold water in a sieve

Is it my fault

That I still believe in earning a honest living

Is it my fault

That I wanted a better life for us both

Is it my fault

That you won’t stay loyal, and would rather Let them have you

Is it my fault

That we’re victims of this crippling economy

Is it my fault

That I try to be a man, despite your nagging

Is it my fault

That I gave up everything I stood for so I could be with you

Is it my fault

That I expect to be loved in the same vein as I do

Is it my fault

That I expect you to think I’ve not forgotten about you

Is it my fault

That this long distance is killing us and I’m working hard to change it

Is it my fault

Is it really my fault

My fault

Or yours

You tell me.

Mind your own womb

I never have related to something so deep as this in a minute, too often we mind other people’s businesses rather than ours, hurting and cutting them deep with our so called “concern”.

Nadirah Angail

pregnant bellySomewhere there is a woman: 30, no children. People ask her, “Still no kids?” Her response varies from day to day, but it usually includes forced smiles and restraint.

“Nope, not yet,” she says with a chuckle, muffling her frustration.

“Well, don’t wait forever. That clock is ticking, ya know,” the sage says before departing, happy with herself for imparting such erudite wisdom. The sage leaves. The woman holds her smile. Alone, she cries…

Cries because she’s been pregnant 4 times and miscarried every one. Cries because she started trying for a baby on her wedding night, and that was 5 years ago. Cries because her husband has an ex-wife and she has given him children. Cries because she wants desperately to try in vitro but can’t even afford the deposit. Cries because she’s done in vitro (multiple rounds) and still has no children. Cries because her best friend wouldn’t…

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