Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

4395455002_6a737b7d9b_o

I talk to myself in the mirror. It’s not natural because she replies me. It started when I was nine. I was brushing my teeth in mummy’s bathroom in front of the big, squeaky clean mirror.

I smiled at the mirror. “Myself” did not smile back. She asked, “what are you happy about?”

I screamed and ran out to the sitting room.

“Stop dripping tooth paste foam all over my floor.” Mummy shouted.

“Mummy mummy, there is another me in the mirror. She’s talking to me!”

“Of course, there should be another you when you face the mirror.” I didn’t know what to say or how to explain in my childish mind, so I shut up and that was the start of it.

It’s my wedding day today and my constant companion through the years— the “mirror me” who gave me tips, admonitions and advises all of my life—tells me she has something special to say.

What else could be more special than the times she told me exactly what parts of the curriculum to study for exams or that time when I graduated and she told me what company to apply to and what questions I was to prepare for at the interview. She’s told me what guys to date, I’ve never questioned her. She told me to go after Marcus, that he was the best man for me. I’m marrying Marcus today. I’ve never questioned “myself.” I’ve been a happy child. Why should I question her?

My worst moment was between the age of 12 and 14 when she left. But she came back one night without explanations. I was standing in front of my mirror sobbing and whispering “myself” at the mirror. A boy had broken my heart. I had a big crush on him and bought him a big flowery card and wrote him a poem. The little wretch shredded the card to my face and had a big satisfied grin plastered on. I had almost cried out my eyes, wishing I had “myself” to guide me. She came that night, after I had given up. I just happened to be in the toilet when I caught a glimpse of her smiling in the mirror.  I knew it couldn’t have been me. I was crying. She was smiling. I jumped in joy and asked no questions.

***

“Do you know what I really am?”

I wondered what she meant. She had become so much a part of my normal life that I had given no thought to her being any thing other than “my mirror self” —my alter ego.

“What do you mean?”

She didn’t reply. She stepped out of the mirror, an exact replica of me to the last detail, wearing my wedding gown. My head reeled, goose pimples sprouted on my skin. I wanted to shout, but it got stuck in my throat by some invisible force.

“You made me. I’m a figment of your imagination. I have lived in nothingness, coming to life only at your behest. I have served you. The time has come for me to take back what you have taken, free without questions.”

I couldn’t understand her. The next thing was that I found myself trapped in darkness. I felt for my arms, stomach, my body. They all felt like nothing. I looked up to see my mirror self staring back at me, taking backward steps out of the room. I’m in the mirror now.

“Bye, take my place.” She said laughing. The laughter was the last thing I heard before everything went into oblivion until the next time she faced a mirror.

 

*********

Image by Allen Skyy via Flickr

About the Author:

Portrait - OlayinkaWole Olayinka, a law graduate currently undergoing professional training at the Nigerian Law School, loves to write fiction and hopes to pioneer a new genre of African fiction with his works. For him writing is an adventure

 

Tags: , , ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

8 Responses to “Unquestioned Gifts | Olawole Olayinka | An African Story” Subscribe

  1. Ngozi March 18, 2016 at 3:21 pm #

    WOW!

  2. Tobi Lola Akinseye March 19, 2016 at 10:32 am #

    Beautiful

  3. Catherine O March 20, 2016 at 5:02 pm #

    Nice! Creepy!

  4. Thia March 21, 2016 at 10:13 am #

    Awesome

  5. Wole March 21, 2016 at 2:29 pm #

    Thanks everyone.

  6. L.Han March 22, 2016 at 1:46 am #

    Short, precise, creepy, suspense…!

  7. Bukunmi` March 22, 2016 at 5:56 am #

    amazing…couldn’t stop reading until the end

  8. omolola March 21, 2017 at 7:23 am #

    Nice I enjoy it every time u write a story

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

15 Pieces to Guide Your Understanding of Xenophobia in (South) Africa

xenophobia in south africa - photo by guillerme sartori for agence france press and getty images

Once again, this September, xenophobic violence was unleashed on other Africans, mostly Nigerians, in South Africa: businesses were closed, shops […]

Johary Ravaloson’s Return to the Enchanted Island Is the Second Novel from Madagascar to Be Translated into English

johary ravaloson - winds from elsewhere - graph (1)

In May 2018, we brought news of the first novel by a writer from Madagascar to be translated into English: […]

Sundays at Saint Steven’s | Davina Philomena Kawuma | Poetry

unsplash3

when god runs out of money (how, no one says) once a week, these days, we come to where the […]

Read the First Excerpt from Petina Gappah’s New Novel, Out of Darkness, Shining Light

petina gappah - out of darkness, shining light - graph

Petina Gappah‘s new novel Out of Darkness, Shining Light was released on 10 September by Simon & Schuster imprint Scribner. […]

We Need To Talk | Muriel Adhiambo | Fiction

unsplash4

IT WAS A warm, humid night in the lakeside city of Kisumu. Under a starless sky, the women, seated on […]

For World Diabetes Day, Miss BloodSugar Calls for Entries to Competition & Anthology Sponsored by Bella Naija

mbs final edit

Press release: What’s your diabetes story? Are you diabetic? Have you been impacted by the experiences of a family/friend/patient with […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.