It may be said that we become most aware of the bonds we share when those bonds are threatened; we realize how powerful they had been all along when they become strained. A woman misses her father most acutely when he is no longer around. A man in exile yearns with nostalgic ache for his home country. A marriage, like a manacle, chafes when love grows cold. All of these are fertile nodes of inquiry. But what of our untroubled bonds, what of the relations in which we are at ease? Here Achebe offers us an Igbo proverb by which we advance: “Where one thing stands, another will stand beside it.” There is something against which ease rests, something it stands beside. Literature must illuminate those as well.
“With the onrushing green blur that he knew was the garden; the orange blob behind the trees that he thought was the setting sun; the echo of laughter that he recognized as the voice of the girl he would give his life for if she politely asked; the taste of tangerine, his world was suddenly set into motion.”
“In the beginning, the deception was straightforward. Her assignment was to root out any political radicals, and report back. She found spying on the academic set to be easy. These scientists and doctors weren’t as self-involved and closed off as she’d worried, they were too trusting.”
“But back to the schools—no ship jumping, no wading in the waters of the Atlantic would forestall the westernisation of the school system. I didn’t see myself in the reading primers in elementary school that stated, “See Jane run.” I wasn’t Jane. I needed an escape route, and in Los Angeles, the waters of the Atlantic could not be my salvation.”
“My response caused her to sit up even straighter and, without missing a beat, declare: “You’re real pretty for an African! I thought Africans were all ugly with black skin, thick lips, and fat noses.” “