As I push through the usual day-to-day London rush hour traffic, I get off an underground station at bond street so i can access the central line.
I am taken aback by the number of people leaving the train and heading towards the escalators – considering this is a thursday morning and not a Monday and the time is approximately 08:56 and not an hour earlier.
Usually there are two lanes on each of the escalators; (whether going up or going down) ; normally the right side is used for people who just want to stand and glide all the way to the top while the left is used for people who are in a hurry and want to keep moving. (Typical for most places in Europe)
Back to my story;
So i manage to shove my way through the crowd to the escalators, aiming for the left side (by the way, I always stay on the left whether I am in a hurry or not) but today I was actually in a hurry and needed to move fast so i could catch the next train on the central line to White City.
But after taking the first four steps on the escalator, i notice the person in front of me is not moving. I look and realize that there is someone at the top of the stairs who is standing on the left lane but not moving. ‘Oh, No! , not again!’ I exclaim.
I knew there was nothing I could do about it, so i decide to ponder about my overwhelming to-do list for the day.
My thoughts are interrupted by the sight of a young black man, gliding down from the opposite side of another escalator. From my first glance, i figured he will be about my age or maybe a bit younger, he had glasses glued tightly to his face it looked almost like a tattoo. He looked smart wearing a jacket over an office shirt , similar to what I was wearing and so I would guess he was going to work.
For the escalators going downward , the left lane was still making progress, unlike ours. But this young man was standing on the right lane (slow lane), at least he did not look like he was in a hurry.
But what actually caught my attention was that this young man’s eyes were buried in a big glossy covered book. His eyes were so fixated that he hardly noticed the pushing and shoving of passer by’s around him.
He looked so lost in the pages of this book, it appeared as though he was carefully analyzing every single word on it…
Now all these happened within a few seconds as he was gliding downwards on the escalator while I was gliding upwards, but considering the attention he was giving to this book, i imagined it must be something compelling. I was curious to find out what he was reading. Questions like ‘Is it a detective novel, history or motivational book?, who is the author? etc. all these questions scampered through my mind.
So i kept my eyes on the book as he glided past me hoping to catch a glimpse of the writings on the front cover.
Although these thoughts were going through my mind, my composure remained unwavering. Tactfully rolling the side of my eyes with my head tilted slightly towards his direction. Guess I was trying too hard not be rude by aiming my face in his direction like a laser beam. A philosophy i must have adopted from the English. A ‘mind your business‘ mentality.
Well, eventually, I caught a glimpse. There was an ‘A’. I thought i saw America, NO! it was not America , there were some more letters after that.
Yes, It was AMERICANAH written in bold letters.
Almost immediately, i remembered that I had recently read about a soon-to-be released book by Chimamandah Adichie titled Americanah.
By this time, the young man had gone past ,
I turned backwards to get another glimpse of the front cover, then I saw the ‘Chi’……and the ‘Adi’…..my brain deciphered the rest.
It was Chimamanda Adichie’s new book. Americanah!
Phew! what an exercise, at least not in futility.
Am sure you are wondering , Is this what my long story is all about?
Over the past week, I have seen several facebook posts and youtube shares of Chimamanda’s interviews and videos on her speeches at TED.
Although I hardly knew anything about her apart from the fact that she was an award winning writer and had published 3 books previously (non of which i have read unfortunately)
I watched the youtube speech about the ‘ dangers of a single story‘ and the one about feminism. Although I do not completely agree with all her opinions on marriage and the feminism topic. I actually thought she was an incredibly smart and intelligent woman and definitely a gifted story teller.
I have decided to order the book, but interestingly it was not the publicity on the internet nor her prolific speeches that fueled my curiosity to read her new book but the single event that occurred this morning.
What was that young man reading?