Their story ends at the point where the woman sobs uncontrollably at the airport while being held by her mother. I want to tell them she is not her mother. I want to tell them how their story will never carry the weight of this loss. I want to tell them how this loss will continue to live for as long as her life goes on. The loss will be in the next family picture they take and the first time she explains to her daughter what happened to Rex. For the rest of her life, she will have to split herself into two parents and complete conversations with his ghost, telling her daughter how he would have been proud of her.

1 My father is an enigma. Growing up, the little I learned about him I gleaned from listening to snippets of conversations between my siblings. Even now, after all these years, he is still a […]

That Saturday, we did not enter the market complex but waded through the makeshift stalls in the compound looking for the most compelling displays. When we settled on a shop—after being tugged and pulled and snatching our hands back from sellers who wanted to make a sale—we sat on a wooden bench inside and the young man began to show us his stock. A few minutes later, our eyes started to water. In a blink, we were coughing and tearing up and the shop had become cloudy. We exited quickly. Minutes later, news started to filter in that a trader from whom we refused to buy released some sort of gas into the shop to stop our purchase. I am still shaken by this memory.

1 I take my coffee black, no sugar, with a few ice cubes and a squeeze of lemon. That wasn’t always the case. I used to like it how my grandma does—warm with too much […]

“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.” “

“When he comes over to place the white porcelain on my table he adds a sentence in French. I realise too slowly that he’s said something more than “Here you go” or “Enjoy,” and miss his meaning. I think he feels sorry for me and has offered the cup for free. I can’t be sure, but speaking feels like an acutely vulnerable act.”

“This girl is my daughter,” the cleric says. “She’s only five. She got married last year… so why are you not ashamed to say you’re too young to marry?”

“I, too, believe where the wound lies in this picture postcard, and others like it, is the fact of the man’s death. That, necessarily, he is dead.”

“The next day I awoke with Beyonce’s voice in my throat. She says “tough love,” an oxymoron if there ever was one. Hate is easy; love that’s what tough.”