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Your Better Self with Akanna: Nene & Her Ugly Gifts

Many times, people do us wrong and we brush it aside, giving them the benefit of the doubt to keep the relationship going.



Nene was a very likable young lady. She lived in a close-knit neighbourhood where she got along with everyone. She was quick to brush off other people’s wrongdoings, even when they directly affected her, much to the perpetrators’ surprise, even.

Every year, the people in the neighbourhood exchanged gifts with one another. Nene got the most gifts from people. Clothing, jewellery, make-up, perfumes–generally anything she could wear on her body, or objects she could use out in the open.

So when neighbours spotted Nene donning the clothes they gifted her, smelling of the fragrance from the bottle of perfume they got her, or shovelling her sidewalk with the fancy shovel they gifted her, they were happy. They were happy with themselves and assured that Nene liked them and the gifts they got her.

Some neighbours were, however, left in the dark with Nene. They didn’t know where they stood with her. Year after year went by and they never spotted her using any of the gifts they gave her. They couldn’t ask her. That would be weird. They were left wondering if she liked the gifts, if she liked them as people, or if she just had too many gifts and too many friends, that she never really bothered with theirs and with them.

Nene got married and moved to the next town to live with her husband. She had the same fortune in her new neighbourhood. So many friendly neighbours who took a liking to her and were happy to show it, even in gift-giving.

One day, she turned a significant age, and decided to celebrate with all her friends. She invited all of them over to her home for a party. Her former neighbours were invited as well, and they were all too happy to show up – bearing gifts, as usual. Fortunately, she had a big backyard to accommodate them all. Out there were toys for the kids, a mini playground, a pool, and lots of space to stand around or sit and chat. It was a nice place she had. There was also what seemed like a little storage house out to the side. No one thought much of it. Everyone was focused on having a good time with the available attractions.

Until some kids wandered off from the playground toward the storage area. They were curious to know what was inside. They fiddled with the latch and the door. Nene caught a glimpse of them from where she was standing chatting with guests. She excused herself and made her way to the kids with the intent of stopping them. She was too late.

The storage door swung open and what came pouring out was a heap of old and new gifts from old and new friends and neighbours. Nene looked terribly embarrassed. Guests moved closer, first to see if the kids, who were now covered in this pile, were okay, and then to have a closer look at what constituted the pile. Some of them were shocked to see the gifts they had given Nene in the past. She had never used them. And now they knew why. She never liked them. She thought they were ugly. She always accepted things from them with a smile on her face as though everything was all right, but she kept on piling them away until now. The cat was out of the bag. The look on Nene’s face was telling.

The party came to an abrupt end. Many of her guests walked out after seeing their items in the pile. Nene was distraught. Her husband held her in his arms and consoled her. He had seen some of his gifts to her in the pile, too, but he was going nowhere. Theirs was together forever.

Many times, people do us wrong and we brush it aside, giving them the benefit of the doubt to keep the relationship going. But then they keep on giving us their ugly gifts of bad attitude, and instead of just confronting them and letting them know we do not approve, we keep on taking it with a smile and piling it away somewhere in our hearts, trying our best keep it stifled. Until one day they do the littlest of things and that little thing unlatches the door of our stifled hearts, and we let it all out on them in a rage not commensurate with the current offence. A rage capable of destroying the relationship we were so keen on preserving in the first place.

Akanna is an avid reader, writer, Risk Analyst and a budding Social Entrepreneur. He’s passionate about personal development, and influencing others to succeed!


  1. Funmilola

    May 21, 2019 at 1:06 pm

    I’ve learned to say how i feel immediately i feel it, in the gentlest manner i can. life is too short to keep grudges and make a heap of them.
    My mind has no space for such.

  2. Akanna Okeke

    May 21, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    Good for you, Funmi! I like that you do so in the gentlest manner. Some of us are getting there 🙂

  3. The K

    May 22, 2019 at 2:36 pm

    Your last paragraph was eVeRyThInG!! Thanks for writing in, man. Always a delight reading your feature.

  4. Akanna Okeke

    May 23, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    @The K – Yes, was looking for an effective way to convey the message in the last paragraph 🙂
    And I’m glad you enjoy the articles!

    • Ayo

      August 6, 2019 at 7:35 pm

      Well written Akanna

      Most times, I prefer to wait till later before speaking up because I fear that my emotions might get the better of me at the time. In the end, I don’t get to talk about it because
      I either make excuses for them or feel like the issue has passed and I should let sleeping dogs lie.
      I’m learning to strike a balance though, so I can speak up and speak gently.

  5. Akanna Okeke

    August 6, 2019 at 10:50 pm

    @Ayo: Balance is certainly the key here. Reacting quickly could be emotional, resulting in overreaction and reacting very slowly could eat away at you. The goal is to respond after you’ve thought things through – from a position of strength and a willingness to reason together.

    God help us as we continue seeking the ‘golden path’ of balance! 🙂

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