Saturday, November 26

I am a writer

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By Ndey Kumba Demba

It came like one of those light-bulb moments and with a clarity I haven’t felt in a long time. I almost forgot how it felt to feel this way. Indeed, the toilet is where the magic happens. Whoever said it happens in the bedroom, didn’t know what they were talking about. I walked to my husband and demanded his attention. My exact words being “I need all your faculties.” He looked up at me and I said it with as much clarity and urgency as it came to me when I was handling my business in the toilet.

“I am a writer.”

“Why do you say that? Of course, you are.”

“No, I am a writer. Not writing is not doing justice to the gift God has given me. Before anything else, I am a writer first. I appreciate how much my writing has grown. I read what I’ve written, and wonder is this really me? Did I really write that?”

The affirmation made my night and thus, this piece.

I have written quite a number of stories I just dump in the cloud. I have so many stories to tell. I believe our lives are a culmination of stories. I want to capture them in its entirety. It is almost like a race to write before my memories fail me, nevermind, I am under 30.  Right now, I can recall back every memory, every story, every emotion. Some stories are harder to write than others. I’ll start some and realize I do not possess the emotional strength to write them. I’ll write others with so much love and happiness, trying to capture my feelings in words. I would also write some through tears.

My ever-supportive husband told me that I should go for it and need to fully unleash that side of me. That I should give myself a deadline of six months to keep myself grounded. God bless this man for me. That if he already had the number of stories that I do, he would have been publishing by now.

This epiphany I have is remarkable. I have struggled with confidence for a long time and self-doubt blissfully lives in my head rent free, tax free. I know, it is hard to believe as I exude confidence all the time. It is more internal than it is an external battle. My confidence comes from a reservoir of positive self-talks, constant reminders, and the drawing of inspiration from my mother, family, friends, achievements, Ted talks, random places, and people. For every ounce of confidence I show, I have spent a great amount of time and energy willing it.

I don’t know that I know anyone who is as much an enemy to themselves as I am.

“You can’t do it”

“What makes you think you’re smart enough?”

“What makes you think you deserve it?”

It takes everything in me to shake these negative, damaging thoughts. Thus, the battle. And on a good day, luckily most days happen to be, I’ll hold it together while the internal struggle continues. For all that I am, for all that I have been, I know I am better than this. And in a world where people are wilfully happy to rain on your parade, put you down and put you in your place, you don’t need you to do it too. The kindest person you should know and meet is you. Sometimes I wonder what happened to the younger Ndey Kumba. I mean, I was on stage at nursery school. I performed drama, poetry, and gave moving speeches. Award-winning speeches if you ask me; read the news on Assemblies and debated like my life depended on it. Trust me, you don’t want to have a go at me. Head girl twice (junior and high school, different schools, Presentation and Gambia High, Brikama to the City of Lights), what are the chances? Debate Champ (Junior and High school). In fact, I graduated high school with the “Debater of the Year” title. What happened to that little girl? Who broke my spirits? What broke my spirits? What/who told me that I wasn’t good enough?

That I couldn’t do it and I believed them/it. My good friend Saikou Jammeh once told me:

“Everyone who knows you talks about how brilliant you are. Stop hiding. What are you afraid of?” I didn’t have an answer then and I can’t say I have an answer now. But thank God for honest friends.

I will not relent in finding out what/who because I owe that to myself and it could be the key to understanding, forgiveness and healing. However, that is a tale for another day.

Today, I am celebrating it that told me that I am a writer and I believe it. My self-doubt would not allow me to epitomize what I know I truly am. People may call me a writer, but I call myself an occasional writer. Pathetic? Tell me something I don’t know. My writing is certainly louder than me and certainly bolder than me.

I have come up with a simple resolution for myself. Every day, I’ll write something. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It is just something I need to write, capture in the moment, and tell the stories dying to be told.

I already have a title for my book and it’s “Unapologetic.” There are so many things I am apologetic for in this life but being me is not going to be one of them. When I publish Unapologetic, it is going to be entirely me, it is my story, it is my truth and I stand by it. I am not polishing it, I am not omitting, I am not thinking about your feelings and I am certainly not thinking about what you think about me. I will own every word. It will be my coming out and it will be me giving myself permission to just breathe.