Number one. My family is from Nigeria. And I remember there was one time I went home, and we were driving from the airport in Lagos. This was in the late 90s. There was a dead body, just a bloated body, on the side of the highway. And I looked and I said, that's a dead body. You know? And I'd never been in a space where there was a dead human body kind of treated… we kind of moved past it, like, as if it were roadkill. And in that moment too, I was just thinking how death is just right there. It’s close. It’s close. It’s there.
Number two. Thinking too much about things that scare me. Can you walk around like a wound every day and survive this place? Or, what’s the balance?
Number three. That my daughter will be a mountain climber.
Four. My daughter victimizing others in any way.
Five. My daughter being victimized emotionally, spiritually, psychically. Because I love her so much! Did I know I had the capacity? No, I mean, I love people. I love my husband. But, to not be able to protect her from pain. When she was just, I don't know how many weeks old, or was she even a month, and my husband was cutting her nails, and he cut her. I saw the blood before I heard the scream. I thought, I think I'm going to hit him. I did not hit him because I know he didn't mean to, but he was like, “She's okay. She just cut her finger.” It's the thing inside of me. There's something inside of me, and it goes mad.
Six. Losing my mind in the wrong way. There are values that we have in a capitalist society that maybe I don't want to be connected to. People have to go quick, quick, quick. I've got to get this by this time. I've got to get this degree. It's got to be from this school. I've got to make this much money by this time. I just feel like I know inside that thinking that way would make me crazy.
Seven. Losing my curiosity.
Eight. That those in positions of power who use lies and sow hatred to hold on to that power will not face the consequences of their avarice and deceit.
Nine. That I will die before witnessing those chickens come home to roost.
Ten. That when I do die my consciousness won't be ready for the transition. I have this theory. I don't know why I have this, that your afterlife, what comes next, is going to be shaped by what you're feeling at the moment of the transition. Like, if you're thinking, “I'm going to see demons I'm going to hell. I'm going to hell.” Then you die and you're you're gonna be in hell, right? Or, it's just, like, what if you could really imagine something quite glorious? Imagine the most beautiful day surrounded by the people that you love. Maybe it's an ongoing sleepover and it's sunny all of the time. I don't know why I think that.
My name is Okwui and these are 10 things that scare me.