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Atoke’s Monday Morning Banter: The Thin Line Between Sentiment & Hoarding

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I am one of those people who get weirdly animated when I’ve finished reading a good book. Last week, I told as many people as possible that they need to read Ngugi Wa Thiong’O’s Wizard of The Crow. It was published in 2006 but I only just read it. It’s a really good book and I think it should be made compulsory text for secondary school students. There are so many interesting elements in the book to consider, but there’s a thread I’d like to draw from, and talk about this morning.

One of the characters in that book, Titus Tarjirika wore a glove permanently on his left hand. It was the hand with which he shook the Ruler of Aburiria. Tarjirika was determined to preserve the sanctity of that hand, so he did everything he could – never taking the glove off. As I read on, I could relate to the sentiment behind holding on to something that is attached to a significant part of your life.

My friend, Mo’, has a room in his flat which we call “The No-Go Area”. It is the room where you can find relics of a lifetime ago. A shirt from his first stage performance; a VHS cassette of his first tripple X film. Every time I try to help him clean out the room, we end up getting into a row about how if it’s junk, it’s HIS junk and he has a right to keep it… even if it means stinking up the house.

We all have things that we hold really dear to our hearts. We have sentimental attachments to certain items because they bear a significance to certain periods in our lives. I mean, I’ve got a t-shirt that I wore for the promotion of our Law Cultural Pride night at Uni. I cannot explain why I still have it. I can’t explain why I am still carrying it around. It is immaterial that it still fits and I love it, carrying it around for so many years is skirting the thin line between sentiment and hoarding.

Someone once said that you can only be a hoarder if you have a lot of space to play with. This may or may not be true, because if you meet a chronic hoarder, you’ll know that space can be created for any and everything. For instance, our house in Ogbomosho is my mother’s dumping ground for all things we tell her to get rid of. Imagine my surprise when I went to Ogbomosho one year and saw that my mother kept trays and cups from my granny’s funeral service over 20 years ago. Her justification is that it makes for good history.

She probably has a point. At a flea market recently, someone tried to sell me old bottles of ginger beer from before the 2nd World War. My friend was rather excited as she told me the history of the shape of the bottle and the cork. As a local girl, I just stood there thinking “kini kpantii?” (What is this junk?)

But the truth is, something that is junk to someone might just be gold to someone else. There’s no logical explanation for why I have a dress wrapped in an air tight bag. It is completely inconsequential that it is what I wore on that delightful day that I met BankyW.

There is a hoarder in everyone of us, our threshold for keeping stuff just varies from person to person. Please share some of your hoarding stories with us. Don’t worry… we won’t judge you. What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve held on to or seen someone hold on to. Your first child’s cot? Your wedding dress? My mother kept the Sanyan wrapper that she wore for her marriage ceremony some 40 odd years ago and I must say… It has been good for the winter.

Oh, and before I go I have to say this. Some of my friends are spending Valentine’s Day at Heritage Orphanage, in Lagos. If you would like to give out any of your old stuff – freshly laundered and in good condition – please shoot me an email. I’d give you details. You could also give money or food if you feel like. I look forward to reading from you—> [email protected].

Have a fantastic week ahead. Hey… don’t forget to do something positive and inspire someone today.

Peace, love & cupcakes.

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You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website for more information.

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