At about 12, I received Noughts and Crosses as a Christmas present. I started reading it that evening and stayed up until Boxing Day morning to finish it. The narrative was gripping, the imagery was vivid and the characters were real/layered. I couldn’t put it down.
Heading down to Elizabeth Hall at The Southbank Centre, I was buzzing or, in the words of Tobi , I was gassed “with a ‘y'” (GYASSSED). Finally, over a decade after reading her initial book, I was at Malorie Blackman in Conversation, putting a face to the name and meeting the author that wrote a book that 12-year-old Jamila wanted to read.
Hearing Malorie speak about the Noughts and Crosses series and latest edition, Cross Fire, was fascinating. Malorie, and Noughts and Crosses, had a huge impact on my love for reading. I have always been, and still consider myself a reader, but Noughts and Crosses sparked an interest in me. It spoke to the reader and character in me, to a part me that hadn’t really been spoken to before. The narrative challenged the common-sense understandings of “race” and racism by subverting the norm, creating an arguably dystopian image of society where white people (the Noughts) were second-class citizens. The character development, and their realness, really fascinated me, and I felt myself relating to some of their complexities.
Being the fangirl that I am, after the talk, I queued for nearly 2 hours to have my new book signed by Malorie, as well as getting one signed for my sister. For a moment, whilst standing in the queue, my anxiety kicked in and I started panicking about the fact that I should have brought my original Noughts and Crosses book that I stayed up late to read all those years ago. But I reminded myself that it was okay. At least I was there.
I was in a good place.
Leaving the event in good spirits, I had an optimistic feeling about myself. Almost as if I thought I could be Malorie Blackman or at least, I could achieve my aspirations like Malorie had, despite early rejection. But that positivity shifted within minutes of having a conversation with a particular person.
Fast forward to later that evening; event done, books signed, candid images snapped by staff on my phone of Malorie and I having a catch up. In conversation w with a relative, they brought up topic that I was not comfortable discussing. Especially not with them. It was a topic I have, and continue to try to, leave in the past. But you see, some people believe they are entitled to question you. And I have come to realise, that is not the case. When people (friends, family, colleagues etc.) bring up your past, an event or a sensitive topic without your permission, you are entitled to not participating. Now if the conversation comes across in a way which can be perceived as judgemental or critical; retreat. And this is what happened to me, on this good, good Sunday. The encounter brought up emotion in me which I have been trying to manage.
And so, I left.
I hopped on the train with tears in my eyes. Tears filled with stories of the past, the uncertainty of the future and the unhappiness of the present. And then, I got home and allowed the tears to escape me and sympathised with this part of myself.
Whilst this blog is vague and slightly goes off on a tangent. That’s the point. It was a good day, and that small interaction (which brought me to tears) was a bad moment. Things may start off positive and take a negative turn, but we cannot allow a moment of so little magnitude dictate how we are going to feel for the rest of the day, week month, year. If we allow, these small moments to define us, how we feel or who we are, we will find ourselves continuously unhappy even in moments of happiness. And this is where self care comes in. Allowing yourself to cry, be upset and take a moment to feel those emotions, is self care. Giving yourself a moment is necessary in order to avoid falling into a cycle of low moods and anxiety.
On every level, self care is a must.
Do not allow people to kill your vibe, permanently.
Still GYASSED over Malorie btw!