Nele's Thoughts

Let’s Talk About Joy

I know you most definitely have heard this a billion times, you probably feel it in the tender structure of your guts, or are just at that crossroads (tough I know, necessary too) between societal ‘logic’ and the irrepressible come-to of your person.

It is important that we remind ourselves, over, and over again, that it is beyond okay to accept yourself.

That it is just fine to sometimes look in the mirror when it all becomes overwhelming, and think about the logic weaponised against the backdrop of a vile existence, think about that to remind yourself of why you need to keep saying yes to the unraveling magic inside of you, why you need to keep doing whatever you do with your eyes trained on the prize.

This because, maybe we do not talk about it enough, we get doubts sometimes. Everyday, words, actions, gestures, insinuations, impressions pushes that part of us that hasn’t completely clicked into acceptance into a whorl of doubt, coaxes our every ideals and leaves us bare and clueless, and you shouldn’t live that way any more. While it may seem impossible, society will eventually come to terms with us going nowhere, because I know you ask questions, I know there is a rushed refill of hurt when you look at your brother who ruthlessly wanted vulgar things done to your body so as to rid it of a thing they know nothing about, not even to engage you with, you stare at that friend who bails on you all the time, and declares a readiness to murder any ‘faggot’, I know you listen and read the news and wonder why you shouldn’t just stop all the clamouring and wait for your turn to come because there is a high rising wall where they should be the thinnest path signifying hope, but note now that so long as that wall hasn’t reached high into the sky, you can climb over it to get to the other side, you can keep hitting it until it tumbles over and relinquishes a broad passage way for you and for me.

I know also about those nightmares, short clips of terror, sure to come to pass in the thinly sealed layer deep down in your heart, of varied kinds of tragedies cullled from the depressing news and the unrelenting hatred by your church or mosque that preach love and breathe the abundantly supplied air of spite and misunderstanding. I know those nightmares sometimes creep into your ethereal projector when you have gone in deep with sleep, and leaves tears in your eyes when you wake up. I know you feel like the only person suffering from an undocumented disease, that because you see this kind of select group of people who support each other and have been at it for ages, thus gives you a subtle find-your-lane warning, you begin to question why you should hold on and keep breathing the air you are attuned with, amongst such separations.

I know you sometimes attribute everything to everything, judge harshly so it feels better, isolate yourself so as to not feel too alone, (un)consciously envy heterosexual boys and girls around you who society endorses and recognises without a second thought. I know, when you listen to the radio and OAPs make raunchy jokes that puts your othered body in shame, they seem to say a lot of sick things to you, I know also that you try not to impress madness upon yourself when you interchange the gender in all the Nigerian love songs that can never attempt to have who they truly yearn for in the lyrics, which would come to mean that they carry you knowingly along.

I know you wonder if all Nigerian singers are heterosexual and never divergent, not one, it seems unlikely to you. I know in that stead, that you make up songs that dry up in your throat, with lyrics that meet your body well. I know you try to tell people that you are not so fiercely fierce, nor upbeat enough to follow, but that an affirmation, maybe by unconditional inclusion or other, would help you get by. Will keep the razor blade away from your wrist, and sweep out the scenes in your head where you intensely explore different instances of you dying, so there wouldn’t be all these gaps to keep from widening.

I know you yearn for a lot of things, and it keeps you breathing from your mouth, and forgetting that you cannot healthily manage separated existences. I know you make up safe places in your head, and go there to sit in a corner where you can find a good conversation or just watch loving bodies be radical beneath spinning lights. I know it’s hard knowing that this or its alternative may never come to pass.

I know you don’t want home to be a foreign trespass, all your memories and sentiments yanked away from you, your sense of belonging stripped and locked away, with the key missing.

I know you stare at yourself in the mirror and shrink, shrink, and shrink and shrink, all the while thinking, why do I have to look so peculiar?


But this is the thing about joy, about pride in who you are even when society tells you otherwise, it will carry you up, out and over. It will remind you reasons why you should keep smiling, keep impressing artistic madness upon yourself so long as it keeps you afloat, keep wrapping yourself in darkness and not letting a tear drop from the opportunity of concealment. Joy will help you see that you have the nicest eyes or the cutest nose, or remind you of what he said about your lush lips, or of how she calls you beautiful, joy will allow you to touch into every restrictions. It will keep you warm and lighten everything up as you keep going on, solo or otherwise.

But then joy, from where? From what?


You who is willing to fight for the life you deserve. Joy because it will all come to a fruitful circle in no time. Joy because it is the best way to be, to feel, to understand, and recollect. Joy because, hell! It’s pride month and there’s the opportunity to do what you need and want to do. Joy because it will get better, and you are not as lonely as you think, that you can smile more, joke more, use the Ha-Ha emoji often, and live more with the break of a new day.

Joy because it will get better, in all the ways that you are thinking, and more.

And most especially joy because, why not?


Nele’s Thoughts is a column run by Nigerian Writer Nele Anju. Click here for more posts.


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