And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

After reading Fredrik Backman’s “A Man Called Ove”, he’s become my new obsession.

There aren’t many writers out there who draw your soul into a story like he does. You see the characters. You root for them. You feel their sorrows and hopes and triumph. You sit in bed at 2am weeping for them, and smile when things finally begin to work for them.

Because deep inside, these stories mirror yours. Your story is buried inside words and you recognise this. So, it stops being about the characters really; it’s about you. And me. Hoping we’ll get a happy ending eventually.

I read Backman’s novella “And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer”.
It’s a very short complete-in-one-sitting kind of book that tells the story of a man searching for the best way to tell his son and grand son goodbye.

His greatest fear isn’t death; it’s not remembering. It’s waking up each day knowing your memory will fail you. That you’ll stare at the people who meant the world to you and have no recollection of who they are. That you’ll pick your favourite book for 10 years and not know why it was so perfect for a decade. That the words you loved so much, or the numbers that excited you means nothing.

I would fear that. Not death. Never death. Not going grey or wrinkled. I look forward to it. I would fear forgetting; looking into the mirror and not knowing. Scratching at the surface of consciousness and not being able to dig within. It’s frustrating today to have a word right there at the tip of my tongue and yet my mind betrays me. It’s frustrating to feel like I need to recall something and yet can’t access the file. But to know that one day it’ll simply be a natural reaction to aging…

Noah, his grandson, takes this in strides. He’s a child who loves numbers like his grandpa. But he also understands adult complexities because his grandpa always spoke to him like an adult.
Ted, the son, likes words and music. He never got along with his father. He taught himself to ride a bike.

… Grandparents dot on their grandkids because they’re trying to apologise to their children for being bad parents.

I can live with this.

Backman weaves an emotional, compelling story of family, love, regret and hope. All fundamental themes familiar to us.

………………….

There’s a hospital room at the end of a life where someone, right in the middle of the floor, has pitched a green tent. A person wakes up inside it, breathless and afraid, not knowing where he is. A young man sitting next to him whispers:
“Don’t be scared.”
The person sits up in his sleeping bag, hugs his shaking knees, cries.
“Don’t be scared,” the young man repeats.
A balloon bounces against the roof of the tent; its string reaches the person’s fingertips.
“I don’t know who you are,” he whispers.
[…]
“You look different, Noahnoah. How is school? Are the teachers better now?”
“Yes, Grandpa, the teachers are better. I’m one of them now. The teachers are great now.
“That’s good, that’s good, Noahnoah, a great brain can never be kept on Earth,” Grandpa whispers and closes his eyes.

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Don’t Buy Her A Gift…

gift

According to the movies and stories passed down over the decades, courtship in Africa, specifically Nigeria was rather a funny and awkward exercise; one that still influences how relationships pan out in present day society. In those days when a man became of age and his elders deemed it time for him to get married, he would be ‘let loose’ on the community to scout for a suitable maiden to wife.

Now, what made a maiden suitable you ask?

  • A broadened hip believed to make childbirth easier and also strong enough to ‘back’ the child when it cries.
  • An ample bosom to nurse a child.
  • A thin waist line to showcase an hourglass figure (they loved their amazons)
  • A good stock line to ensure children had no evil traits likely to rear up its ugly head.
  • And let’s not forget, the gift of preparing and serving meals in a manner that would rival Nigella Lawson.
  • Throw in a pretty face and the said scout had reached utopia.

Basically, he went about the process with the mannerism of a prospective buyer at a cattle market. And when our scout spots the right maiden does he personally take her a gift or try to interact with her? No. He interacts extensively with her family, including distant relatives, but rarely spends any quality time getting to know her as a person.  He bestows gifts on her parents, her relatives as a token of his interest. Any gift that makes it to the bride is delivered by a relative, not directly by our scout.

The maiden is seen as something you acquired after making a reasonable offer by way of a gift. There was no need to appeal to her emotions; it was more or less a business transaction.

Fast forward to present day society, not much has changed. Man still hasn’t mastered the act of gift giving without strings as a sign of intimacy and friendship.

Our modern day checklist will look something like this:

  • Does she have a job, is she hard-working?
  • Is she devoid of illness (this includes her bloodlines)?
  • Is she well known in the community? Hmm, this might be a sign that she flirts.
  • Is she prayerful? I have gathered a lot of demons and I need a stand by the exorcist.

And the list continues.

History has made it almost impossible for men to approach gift giving from any other angle other than as an investment that indirectly benefits him.

He gave gifts to her father, he got her. Business deal sealed and delivered.

However, today the woman has a choice and sadly that has thrown a spanner in the investment wheel of many scouts. Some have invested and lost heavily; some have played cautiously and still ended up cheated.

sheldon-cooper-quote

I know some of you are thinking, but we should invest in the ones we love. Absolutely true, however, investments are expected to yield returns; gifts are designed to please the recipient. A gift performs well under the atmosphere of love; selfishness on either side turns a gift into an investment tool for manipulation. Expecting to receive sexual favours or commitments because you gave a gift is totally opposed to the true meaning of gift giving.

 Most people give gifts to children simply to make them smile; to let them know you thought of them and you love them. If the lady in your life does not stir your feelings on gift giving the way a child would then I don’t think you should be together. Begrudging your partner a gift for any other reason other than you can’t afford or it feels inappropriate at the moment, is an indication that you evaluate your relationships based on what you expect in return from it.

Gift: something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation.

Don’t buy her a gift this valentine because you see her as a potential ‘cow’ or ‘investment’ ready to yield an emotional, physical or spiritual bounty. Buy her a gift because she’s the girl who makes the sun feel brighter when she looks at you. Buy her a gift because your relationship is worth investing everything good into including gifts. Buy her a gift because you love her and respect her needs as a person.

Funny thing is when a girl senses she has your heart the benefits just keep giving ♥

 


 

Chioma is an avid reader and a non-biased writer. She writes to explore and change outlooks to life, while mothering and maintaining balance wherever she calls home. Visit her blogLifehomeandaway

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