On Farafina day zero, I arrived at the hotel hungry. At first it was just the hotel room, my hunger, and me pondering the stark loneliness that seemed embedded into the room and its matching shades and bed sheets, the symmetry of the paintings hung on the wall, and the cold floor. I went to search for my friend—who I’d known for the best part of the decade and was lucky to be accepted into the workshop with—who had just arrived, and together we went on a quest to fill our bellies. I should have known eating apples for lunch, and nothing for breakfast, before traipsing across the city jumping buses with my bag wasn’t the best plan for the day.
Later that night, we all gathered at the restaurant, fatigue in our faces, but desire too to see the name that drew us all to the workshop. We of course met an Adichie, just not the one we hoped to meet. In Okey we had the best of hosts, and his smile, even if it wasn’t enough to coax enthusiasm out of our sluggish bodies, was enough assurance that we were in good hands. We trudged into our rooms for the night, not communicating with one another, an act that continued for the first two days of the workshop in what Pamela, our class sleuth, would eventually call carrying shoulder. On the third day, the class arose. Walls were pulled down after a minor ruckus caused by mismanaged emotions. And in the concluding days of the workshop, we grew from strangers to friends to family. We agonised over assignments together, play charades and made fun of ourselves, and took long walks at nights exchanging stories and holding them to heart. Read more