Somebody is banging on the door.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me.”

A hiss follows and the knock is ignored.

There are doors we do not open because we are afraid to embrace the unknown. Yet uncertainty is the gift we must spend our years unwrapping. We must give some allowance for the benefit of doubt, for the moments we do not entirely know. The future is no yellow thing. Permit me to ramble. Permit me to explore the complexity of human existence, the depths of being, place, names, bodies, difference, distance. Permit me to take a viewpoint on how these things affect the doors in our lives. Permit me to sweep through different fields, to break form a bit, to simply speak, to above all things, in the end, build a door.

A door you may never have seen.

A works in a bank. She hates the job, her hair itches in irritation, her bones ache, a hunger gnawing within her. Her mother is definitely proud, too eager to introduce her bright first-class girl who received a yes from seven top organizations and picked the one with the fattest reward. Yet inside A, there is the emptiness a mother’s approval and nice pay does not solve. A knows she wants to be a musician. She can’t forget when she performed and the world spun and the audience cheered, stunned. She knows within her that the job would seep into everything she has dreamed of and like a whirlwind, spin all until the dream becomes a blur. Yet she is afraid to risk the unfamiliar, to dive into the insecure and simply be.

She does not pull out, does not write any resignation letter, does not open the door and leave.

B keeps vigils to keep the wedding ring on her finger.  She weeps every night, her worst mistake ruining her.  She still posts cute pictures of them together, still calls him pet names, still perfumes herself waiting for the night he would notice her.  Her husband had actually loved her for a while – if love is something to count – five years and then all of a sudden, there were gaps between them.

Her son, on the day he turns thirteen, confronts his father as he beats her up. B is curled like a fetus, her screams dimmed into whispers, her resistance drained.

“The baby, the baby,” she cries, her hands on her belly.

B’s son leaps on his father. “I will kill you before you kill my mother,” he says. The two fight and within two minutes, two beer bottles break, two of the father’s teeth fall, two bulbs lose their light.

In two months, B luckily has another baby, another reason she gives herself not to leave. B does not open the door, does not walk out of her marriage. She stays until she dies.

Somebody is banging on the door. It’s three hours past midnight.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me.”

“What? At this time of the night?”

There are doors that do not open simply because of time. There are doors we would never have the key to, seasons where we do not know what lies at the other end of the door. We knock and knock until dawn.  Or we simply squat in confusion. There are no holes to such doors, to such futures. If we try to break the door, we fail. If we try to peep through the keyhole, we fail.

These failures would arise because such doors do not give spaces, do not gift us clues. We must simply pass through the season and until it is time, we cannot open.

Somebody is banging on the door. It’s three hours past midnight.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me.”

“Where are you coming from?”

There are doors we do not open because of place.  Lagos or New York.  A chemistry or finance university degree.  Management positions. Class ranks. Connections. Origins. Positions of all kinds.

These, I believe, are all places, whatever their forms.

There are places we go. There are places that come to us. Places like a second-choice university program or major we never imagined doing, places like ethnicity.

Isn’t it interesting how we sometimes use the word “place” for “home”?

“I’m at my friend’s place.” “We’re having the picnic at his place.”

What exactly is place? What exactly is home? Is it a feeling, a place or a feeling of place?

There are doors we do not open, doors we cannot open, because we are out of place.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me.”

“Who are you? What is your name?”

There are doors that do not open because of identity, which I consider a complex thing. One thing I’d ask: what is the basis of ‘otherness’? How human is it to classify or identify a person with identities or narratives we do not share as an ‘other’, to push them into margins,  to view them as people of difference?

How ideal is it? Should race, gender and sexuality be scales of identification?

Let’s leave those questions.  I once had a conversation with a friend. I asked, “Imagine we lived without names. How would we identify ourselves? Would we identify ourselves by skin or DNA codes or what? Gender would be troublesome. “Hey boy,” and dozens of heads would turn.

How do other beings identify themselves? How do animals identify each other? Are they better than we, the complex beings?

Seriously, I think our names are central to our identities. There was a day I met a guy who looked really Igbo and I asked for his name. He told me something like “John” or “George” and I insisted he tell me his Igbo name, that I’d get the pronunciation. It’s interesting how these days, Nwenenda would call herself Wendy, Oluwakimisinuola would say she’s Kim.

I think a name is too central to our identities to alter. Take the effort to pronounce or spell a name with origins you don’t know.

A name is a door. A name opens doors. I do not have an English name.

John 10:9-10 of the Holy Bible says, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.’’

There are doors that open doors to pasture, single doors no other door can ever substitute, doors that defy human logic.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me.”

“Oh you! It’s been a long time!”

The voice is recognized, a smile lights both faces and the door opens.

There are doors that open. There definitely are.

 

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