Tag Archives: twins

#342 ~ So that’s what Love is…

3 bouquets of flowers: one of pink roses, another of yellow roses, a third of pink tulips. A one person teapot and matching tea set. Raspberry and Apple Herbal tea, tickets to an acoustic concert, a beautiful edition of Herbert’s poetry, a pair of shoes, stunning earrings, 4 chelsea buns, 2 cakes from Patisserie Valerie, an empowering book on faith and inheritance, a cooked breakfast and numerous cards with countless messages that I cannot quite fathom in their depths of love, admiration, kindness and hope. So that’s what love is? I don’t deserve it.

In a most honest manner, I thought I didn’t have friends at Uni. How could I? I didn’t have the time to invest in friendships as I did when I was in school, stuck with 180 students for 7 years of my life. Now free from that I entered University and believed I couldn’t make friends – real friends at least. I barely went out, I was notorious for poor communication, I study English which means I don’t need to leave my room…and yet at least 20 people from all parts of my life surprised me and welcomed my birthday in with singing and laughing last night. Then I woke up to presents, cards, messages and love.

I don’t deserve it – but I suppose we don’t deserve love. It’s a gift, given out of love, whether the receiver believes themselves worth the price or not.

Considering I run a blog and study literature, words are obviously important to me. They are me. I see my world though the matrix of language. And the words…the words of inspiration and love…of encouragement…I didn’t know I meant that much to people, that they’d take the time to build me up.

But that’s what love is, a firm foundation in order to elicit growth – everlasting growth.

Maya Angelou stated famously, and it has become my hopeful mantra for life:

‘My great aim is to laugh as much as i cry, to love someone with all my heart and have the courage to accept love in return’.

I suppose being a woman, is learning to accept love when you recognise it. This time last year I was moping about being separated from my sister, this time this year I am excited to realise…I love accepting love.

Happy Birthday,

with Love

K

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#335 ~ Kehinde

Name given to the second after twins in the Yoruba naming system. It means the one that comes/lags behind. ‘Technically’ the older of the two. When I was growing up I always lagged behind, literally, the family would be there and I would be here, the straggler of the pack. I was Kehinde.

But the spelling was all wrong. The H threw them off, and the N didn’t seem to quite work. It was a silent H you’d say, so the N must be hard they thought. So I/it become Ken-Day.

But Barbie had a boyfriend called Ken, and I definitely wasn’t going to play him in the playground games of Barbie and friends. So no way was I going to be called Kenny, the traditional nickname, by my relatives. Why did you never get that Uncle Gbenga. No. No, Kenny is not acceptable.

So I became KK, till my niece was born and she took that name too. I had lost half of me and had to resort to K, Kay, sometimes affectionately Cakes.

But it’s actually pronounced Keh (like a cough from the back of your throughout, expelling the air harshly), in, deh.

Yet my anglophone mouth was so used to Kaaaaay, it became Kaaayindaay. And I thought I was so right. They just shrugged, smiled, and said what can you do – Oyinbo child.

So…how do I say my name? What is my name? Keh or Kay?

Does it even matter? Yes, says the small voice, No says the rebel, Maybe says the academic. Maybe it really does matter. Yes says the Nigerian, Maybe says the English, worried about further mispronunciations. Yes, says the radical, No says the apathetic youth, Perhaps says the non-committal girl/woman.

Will it still retain a meaning if it isn’t said correctly? What If I re-defined my own meaning? Who says I have to be part of that language system, I have my own

But I’m named in that one….but born into my own. In this English one

Why then a Yoruba name? Hmm?

Why Kehinde?

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#334 ~ The Icarus Girl

1icarusgirlTwins are a fascinating natural phenomena. Mirror twins more so. Yet whether they are fraternal or identical, there is something…supernatural about the relationship between them. It is not so much that there is something telekinetic which creates a mental bond or grants them supernatural powers, but rather there is a spiritual bond. You are, in a sense, joined intrinsically and innately with another human being in a way no other person could comprehend. You don’t necessarily feel their pain, but you know them. You are part of your twin and they are part of you. I should know, I am a twin and though we are chalk and cheese, to some extent we don’t complete but we compliment each other. We make sense of each other and ourselves, together.

Yet at some point in a twins life separation must occur. In Oyeyemi’s stunning novel The Icarus Girl the physical divorce begins at birth, in my experience it happened at University. What is interesting however, and one of the many paths Oyeyemi explores, is the manifestation of the ‘other’s’ characteristics. My twin is extremely assertive, whilst I am overtly sympathetic. Being apart we found ourselves taking on each other’s characteristics in order to generate an equilibrium within our characters.

In Oyeyemi’s dark and twisted retelling of the western ‘doppelgänger’ tale, there is something far more sinister in Jessamy Harrison’s childish pursuit of a fragmented identity she is only aware exists in the chilling screams which regularly wrack her body. Joining Yoruba mythology with the haunting trials of childhood, Oyeyemi expertly moulds the Ibeji deity into something far more powerful and dangerous than a mere reflection, or two halves of a whole. Rooted in the Ifa religion, twins within Yoruba culture wield a spiritual power that combines the world of the living, the spiritual and the wilderness of the mind, the Bush.

Though Icarus Girl is praiseworthy in and of itself, not including the fact that Oyeyemi was 18 and doing her A-levels when she wrote it before gaining a place at Cambridge and then going onto have her student plays performed and published by Methuen, and two more novel’s published to critical acclaim and I’m sure justly deserved awards, its praiseworthy because it touches on something unnervingly real. It reaches back into a prehistoric time when what we now see as ‘organised religion’ had not tamed the wildness of the unknown,  the ‘occult.’ It pierces the hollow facades of unity and presents human nature as a ‘half-and-half’ construction, both within our reality and the domain of the spiritual. It takes identity and presents it as something not only malleable, but transitory and at the mercy of the unknown.

Chilling in its facade of childish simplicity, Icarus Girl is a hauntingly splendid book, from an incredible writer with enough layers to garner at least ten first rate PhD’s out of it. Though this review has hardly begun to sell it, if you have any sense you’ll buy it anyway and peer through the fractured mirror of language and maybe even glimpse apart of the other you, trapped within the wilderness.

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#261 ~ Ithemba Projects : Day 26

 Kwanel(e).

Today, I found out that Girl has a name. It turns out in Zulu culture, it is quite common for male children to have the nickname ‘Boy’, and a set of twins can be affectionately named “Boy and She.’ Yet it turns out, Girl’s ‘real’ name is Kwanel(e).

When I found that out, a peace settled over me. I had initially thought she had ben called Girl because she was unwanted in her parents eyes. Perhaps she had been an unforeseen pregnancy, and out of bitterness she hadn’t been given a ‘real’ name. Or, maybe her parents had thought Girl was exotic, because it was English, and didn’t realize it literally meant girl.

The discovery that Girl was also named Kwanel(e), was the start of a new experience for me. As I drove through and around downtown Pietermaritzburg I had the muted revelation that my colleagues were real people. It sounds absurd, perhaps even patronizing, but I had looked at this month working with Ithemba Projects as my experience. Seeing things through my eyes, how did it affect me. In doing so, everyone else had become like a prop in the play, or, as DiCaprio expertly explains in Inception, a projection of my mind. My colleagues were real people, yes, but their existence and presence only lasted for as long as I was concerned. I had never really looked at them and imagined their pasts, imagined their fears, their dreams. Never thought that when I was hungry, lonely or tired, they were too. That just as I was meeting people and having community interactions, they also were breathing the same air, struggling up the same hills, creating and loosing friends, acquaintances. The flesh that sat beside me in the car wasn’t just a projection, it had a history, and also a future.

Often, I think in retrospect, we are so focused in channelling our experience of life through our own two pupils, we miss the people who are moving within our irises. Looking through my photos, I was struck by the notion, that when I return home, people will ask me: How did you find it, what was it like, how do you feel now your back? They’ll wonder – who’s that man singing, or that person smiling next to you? 

And those extra shadows in my memory will continue to live an exist in the world. They will continue to have a present, a future and a past. And I will have been a tiny speck of dust plopping into the vast ocean of their life streams. We will have crossed paths briefly, for a short instance, in what may be lifetimes stretching beyond sixty years.

Surely, one can’t form relationships, invest, share memories, moments, fears, hopes and dreams with projections? Surely, we must build on these experiences, as they have changed us. It chills me to think, that when I show friends and maybe even my own children in the future, this blog, or these images, and they ask me – so what is so-and-so doing now, i’ll not have the foggiest idea.

So, I find myself, as i’m supposed to turn my gaze homeward, trying to find away somewhere on that London-bound horizon, back here. To make an investment. To remember a promise, that could have been made a long time ago, in a half remembered dream. To come back.

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#174 ~ Into the Womb

Ensconced in the warm walls of a mother’s uterus, twins mould, shape, and conform their bodies into two halves of a whole. There is unity in their separation, which extends into a psycho-emotional relationship, transcending the physical divorce of birth, distance, space and time.

Re-united as fully grown adults, toping and tailing in a single bed, the peace, and security of that embryonic sac returns like the reassuring heart beat under the mother’s breast that thumps, thumps, thumps, reminding the twins they are safe, sound, alive.

They sleep like babies that night.

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#79 ~ Adopted Parents

Most of the time it’s adopted children we focus on. The concept that one can re-appropriate a child, bring them into a fold, a new fold, a family ‘unit’. I can’t really say I’ve experienced that. My parents pretty much wanted me – or at least realised I wasn’t going to leave them alone. I am both the bane and joy of their lives; it took me a while to accept that, but now i embrace it with great gusto. I am frequently told that I cause my mother stress and harass my father past the point of ‘banter’, yet I also bring them a lot of special me joy. Smiley strife i like to call it. So though I’m a twin, and the second one at that, I’d like to say I’m pretty much wanted.

Yet, the way in which I was raised meant the biological demarcation line was very faint. I have a range of siblings and never once in my up bringing did the concept of ‘half’ sibling enter our vocabulary. You can’t be half-blooded, family is family, end of – or as the American’s like to say – period. So, as having siblings was simply having siblings, so was having other mothers and fathers. Most of them were family friends that were called Aunty and Uncle for respect, but somehow assimilated themselves so well into our every expanding concept of family, they became mothers and fathers.

They shaped and raised us, and we in turn became their children. At times it meant that when you knew you were up for a disciplining you had the horrible sinking feeling that it wasn’t just going to happen once. The ‘biological’ ‘rents spoke to the adopted ones, and believe me – they all had something to say on the matter.

But just as I love being the daughter who brings smiley strife to my ‘natural’ parents, I also love being the daughter to adopted parents, to whom i also bring my special combination of smiley sunshine strife.

To the my many parents – you know when i irritate you – it’s my version of Me-Love

 

Always x

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#13 ~ The End is Nigh

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the end. The end of shared birthdays, the beginning of independent January 14th’s. As you get older undoubtedly things of the childhood have to take a backseat. Shared marzipan teletubby and Jemima Puddle-Duck birthday cakes, Paint-Balling parties, sleep-overs in the Science Museum. Good Times.

Tomorrow however, brings the daunting experience of waking up on said birthday without my birthday partner.

These are serious issues. Imagine waking up and finding…finding out you didn’t have an arm. Or a leg. Or were just missing something, something vital that completes the day. You’d feel a bit redundant right? This is the problematic issue that faces twins when they leave the maternal home. No more shared birthdays. I don’t know what i’m going to do. Obviously a day is a day, it starts with a sunrise ends with a sunset and by God’s grace you get through it with few physical or emotional scars. But when it’s the day you remember entering the world ( or if you don’t remember, politely allow older family members to retell it with great gusto), the day you left the confines of the shared amniotic sack and said “Hello!” to anyone who would listen, that’s a pretty big day. For twins we have the comfort of doing it with a friend, together, ensemble.

Naturally we have an inherent desire to be separate. A glorious word. It means Unique, Individual, not half of a whole, but a Whole Whole. Even when you’re not identical, the moment you tell someone you’re a twin they think it’s acceptable to call you by your ‘other half’s’ name. No, we look completely different. You were not confused, you were being lazy.Yet, even though we constantly strive to be separate, there is something comforting that lies at the back of our minds, the fact that we can’t ever really be alone. We aren’t ever separate even when we are (if that makes sense).

Tomorrow will be another step in our ‘separate-individual-wholly-unique’ lives. We shall celebrate our birthday in different cities. I won’t wake up to her sleepy wrinkled face. She won’t see my sleep-encrusted eyes. We won’t do our ritualistic morning talk: i-refuse-to-speak-until-i-brush-my-teeth “fgnfjkgnkg kgbrrgk mrnmrm jbgbgrbkr” (that’s the sound we make, we understand each other perfectly y’know, one of those twin things). It will just be me, waking up to the realisation that I will be rowing in a few hours, and her, the weight of exams on her shoulders.

I hope we won’t be sad.

I hope we won’t feel lonely.

It will feel strange, very strange. I didn’t realise it would come this fast, this separation. But maybe…instead of it being the beginning of the end, it will be the beginning of a new beginning. Instead of just having to share our lives, memories and experiences, we shall choose to share, and be the richer for it. Either way Happy Birthday in advance, ‘nuff love as ever.

 “Let your light shine, burning brighter.”

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