My name is Frances Ohanenye, and I would like a moment of your time to discuss a topic to which I hope you can relate.
The topic is HUNGER. What type of hunger have you experienced? Are you experiencing?
While I wait for your response/feedback, let me share my story of hunger. There is a type of hunger that is beyond food and water, beyond material things. No matter the type of person you are, I believe you may have experienced this time of insatiable appetite. It is not hunger for love or relationship either although we hunger for those as well.
It came to my attention when I was only eight years old. I remember vividly getting paper and pencil (or pen) and starting to write a story. I guess you could say that being an avid reader at that age would lead naturally to writing, but how would an eight-year-old know that? I remember winning a spelling contest.
I guess that meant that I could spell correctly. I guess my teacher knew that I loved to read because my prize for being the first-place winner of that spelling contest was a book. My teacher wrote “First Place Winner” and my name. The recognition did not satisfy any hunger in me, so that must not have been the hunger that possessed me.
But how do being a good speller and being a voracious reader translate into an obsessed writer at that age? I did not know what to call it, but it must have been a special hunger that welled inside me and moved my little legs and hands to search our house for paper and writing utensils, to find an unobtrusive place and sit and begin to write.
Something propelled me to pour things down. I do not recall hesitating or having what people call writer’s block. I remember that I wrote and wrote and wrote. Calls for lunch and dinner went unheeded. Obviously, I was not hungry or thirsty for food or water. Calls that it was my turn to do the dishes were ignored.
There was something that held me spellbound to the chair. I could not free myself from its grip. I had to pour it all out of me so that I could go and eat and so that I could help around the house or get in the biggest trouble of my young life. Even the thought of getting in trouble did not cause the hunger to jump out of my being and find someone else into whom to land. It has never left me, which is the reason I am speaking to you today.
Can you relate to that type of hunger?
Regardless of your profession, I am certain there is something that causes you to yearn until you quench it. Regardless of time and space and the distance you try to place between you and that hunger, it will not let you go until you take an action to satisfy it.
I remember that the story I wrote when I was eight was about a little girl, but I did not know her age. I did not know what the word genre was, whether it was a short story or a novel, did not have a title for it at that time, and I do not know what happened to that story. It is still in bits and pieces in my head. I mourn its loss sometimes. Maybe I will gather those bits and pieces in my head and grow them into a semblance of that story.
That hunger is like many of Langston Hughes’ poems about dreams. He must have had a hunger that would not leave him alone even as he was transported from one relative to another until he became of age and made good on his hunger. In “Dream Deferred,” he asked specific questions about dreams: do they dry up like a raisin in the sun, turn into a syrupy sweet, or does a dream explode?
I have lived life as best as I could with the hunger suppressed inside me like a pebble in my shoe. It was there when I finished graduate school and wrote for publications. I gave in to that hunger and wrote with abandon for those three years I went home to Nigeria. Then I ignored it. It rose like the phoenix. It was there when I got married. It was there during pregnancy, and I wrote poems about my unborn baby. It was there when divorce and single-parenthood arrived, and it kept me company. It was there when my parents passed away, but I was too immersed in grief to write. It was there when my daughter grew up and got married.
It is there now, center stage, and has refused to be kicked to the curb any longer.
I am slowly and surely giving it the time and attention it has so rightly deserved, but I want to pause today and reach out to you to hear about your hunger.
What is it that you have tried to suppress that has left an ache, a yearning in your deepest self?
Have you started feeding that hankering, done anything with it? To it?
Thank you so much for allowing me to intrude into your peacetime today. I am most honored for your time and attention. Remain blessed.
***Photo credit: http://www.CANVA.com (First three pictures)
**Photo credit: www.google.com (Langston Hughes’ poem)
*Photo credit: francesohanenye (Flower and laptop)