She gave him the stare that she gives anyone who dares to humiliate her in public. It was a stare that when observed, would momentarily paralyze an individual, as a swift chill ran through their veins. He lowered his gaze, ashamed that he had ever opened his mouth to comment on her insecurities. Although she smiled at his realization of his wrongness, the void within her was not yet filled.
Uprooted from her home at age 4, she reaps the consequences of the actions made so long ago by people other than her. “Real American girl,” was among their favorite terms to call her. Along with “White girl,” and “onyinbo.” She always felt grounded in who she was- a Nigerian- and yet, in a matter of seconds all that she knew was challenged by the rhetoric of a few relatives.
Her predicament is worsened by her inability to speak her native tongue (Igbo), nor can she fully understand it. She often blames her parents for not being more assertive with her when it came to learning the language. As a remedy, she ceaselessly began researching online Igbo courses that would teach her the language, and ultimately help her become more Nigerian. Her obsession with the language got to the point where she no longer wanted to learn Igbo for its intrinsic value, but rather for the extrinsic benefits that it would grant her- freedom from taunting from her extended family. But the reality still remains that she does not know her own language, and every trip back to Nigeria is a solemn reminder of this fact.
Too American for Nigeria and too Nigerian for America. Not fully assimilated into either culture. An identity crisis that she thought was only reserved for people of mixed races. All she wanted was to be fully accepted by both cultures, and yet she was denied by both. Neither here, nor there.
She just prays that they will one day accept her for who she has become, a liquid that flows between two cultures, never quite filling either to the brim.