The New Yorker published a short story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called “BirdSong”. The story centers on the so hypocritical fixation with morality and the habitual disdain for others. The young woman who spends her nights wondering from church to church in search of a husband. The “Madam” who is arrogant and full of disdain for those she perceives as lesser beings ” A woman for whom things are done”. And the husband who is happy to take his pleasures where he can but ultimately for him to marriage is the purpose of the journey. The story is familiar so that we can hear the conversations, recognise the looks, sounds and smells but thats what makes it such a wonderful short story. And I love the way Chimamanda is increasingly engaging with feminism and challenging homophobia in her work – fiction, essays and interviews. She has a large following amongst young Nigerians so this is very important and heartening.
As an aside the comic image which accompanies the story reminds me of a documentary with Adichie in which she encounters a passing trader whilst sitting in a Lagos jam – I wonder if there is a connection. Was this the beginning of the story? It also reminds me of those incredible intimate but distant moments when you pass someone whilst driving.