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As steady as a beating drum, my heart beats in my chest…

Pumping blood rushing through my veins to the tips of my fingers and toes

And only God knows how hard it hurts to stay alive sometimes…

And when all is said and done, and everyone is gone,

I’m left alone to dance to the rhythm of my heart playing in my chest,

And I begin to move, mixing my salsa with my tears as I gasp for the breath of life for what I think could be my last time…

And as my head begins to sink, and as my eyelids slowly shut,

My gaze falls upon my chest…

And I see them…

Those scars…

Those scars I wear across my chest

From times I failed to be the best I could be,

From times people looked and couldn’t see any good in me…

And they threw me aside as they took out the trash when they were spring cleaning out their lives…

Scars from times I loved so deep it carved a hole straight through my heart,

And it took days, and weeks, and months of surgery,

Lying under the blade of the Word setting asunder the cause of the incessant bleeding, as my heart beat faster,

A cupid’s arrow lodged in my left auricle

Filling my veins with the poison I called love…

And it was killing me softly…

“I honestly didn’t know where to turn

Because everyone I went to seemed to think that

The only problem with my situation was me.

And as the daggers of “encouragement” pierced through my abdomen,

I realised it was harder to digest the truth

When the rest of the world thought you were the lie,

And lying there waiting for a Good Samaritan to hear my silent screams and help me to an inn,

Then I began to realise,

“nobody knows who I really am…”

“Nobody can recognise me…”

“Nobody knows my name.”


But somebody did…

And He picked me up…

And He cleaned me up…

And He called me by name…

Not liar, or misfit… He knew my name.

Excerpt From: Okoye, Xyvah. “Zayin.” iBooks.


Did you ever?

Dear Dotty,

It’s been quite an eventful week for my heart. I guess my body may not have done much but I swear my heart made it to the North Pole and back. 

I’ve been running it about in my head, trying to understand why people would purposely break someone else’s heart for no good reason. I mean, even if there’s a reason, no reason is good enough to crush another persons dreams. 

After spending the week gathering up the million and one pieces my heart was shattered into, I finally figured that the best way to deal with all of it was to just chuck it. After all, a broken heart’s no good anyway. And it’s not like he did it on purpose, I guess my heart was just the unfortunate emotional casualty in his personal war on life. I guess he didn’t really realise how much he meant to me and didn’t expect that I’d get hurt. 

People tell me I come across as very hard and somewhat uncaring and that’s why they don’t realise that a lot of things go deeper than they realise. They believe I have a tough outer skin and can handle almost anything but hardly ever do they see when I get home, peel off the smile and fall apart in bed. They never know the nights when I cry myself to sleep because of things they’ve said or done. I guess he never realised I actually did love him. I guess I didn’t show him how much I really cared, or how much I was willing to give up to spend the rest of my life with him. I guess it’s a good thing he’ll never know. I guess he didn’t deserve me anyway. I know I’ll get over him… Eventually… But the truth is, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to let my heart love again. 

I know you may not even know me but somehow, somewhere deep inside me, I know you understand how I feel. I often found myself wondering whether you felt the same way too. You know, when you left Grandfather and my mum. Did it break your heart too? Did you feel like you’d never love again, like your world was falling apart and you’d never be able to survive the chaos of it all? I know you were able to move on, get married and have more kids, mummy says you did. But in your moving on, did you ever get over it? Did you ever truly love again?

I know these are really personal questions but I feel like knowing the answers would help me understand how I feel and, I guess, help me move on, even if it doesn’t help me get over him. 

Lots of love, 

Your granddaughter. 


Image by Kovacevich

You can’t hurt someone else when you’re on your own… so the best remedy for living without a heart is to live alone. Building walls high up and a gate made of steel to prevent anyone her body would appeal to from coming in, to hear the silent screams echo through the dark hallways of a lonely heart as she watches the mould growing and spreading, dreading the day she hears another voice say those three words, “I love you…” 

But she does…

Yet she doesn’t respond because she won’t be held responsible for bleeding hearts or broken bones that aren’t her own so she locks the door and throws away the key because that’s the only way she can say, “Leave me alone” politely. But he doesn’t seem to understand that lending a helping hand to her is proven by more than just an outstretched friendly hand… He doesn’t understand that the only way he will ever see the real her is to get through the gates of steel and, down on bended knee, tell her the story of how he got the master key from the One who made the lock… but until then, as she sits silently listening to the “tick-tock” from her biological clock, she screams in her silence as she grows addicted to a sadness that slowly caresses her heart, spreading through her veins and as the toxins begin to reach her brain… she’s dying… softly so she hides away the pain behind the smile she now maintains, behind lies about locked doors and lost keys… hoping that maybe, quickly, one day, someone will find the remedy to a broken heart.
Excerpt From: Okoye, Xyvah. “Zayin.” iBooks. 


Image by Danny Caramete

A locked door isn’t just a locked door; it’s another way of saying, “leave me alone.”

There’s a kind of sadness you can get addicted to.

The kind that slowly caresses your heart, spreading through your veins and killing you softly

It’s a good kind of bad feeling

More of an acquired taste, I’m told

It grows on your heart like a toxic mould bred from a life dampened with tears falling unto a pillow as silent screams echo through the dark, empty hallways of a lonely heart

It grows, spreads, breeds

Feeding on blood bled from the bleeding parts of broken hearts which no stitch from any surgeon or operation forgone proved successful

As gores soak up regret leaking from past mistakes… because a heart that breaks stays as broken as the words we speak stay spoken.


So as the days grow longer and the nights grow colder, the battle rages on as the heart grows old enough to retire but not serving long enough to receive a pension

She leaves bereft of attention, she remembers him making mention of a convenient way to love with a broken heart

So body young enough to fight for it but the heart too weak to nurture love, she abandoned the battle

Like a king without a crown, like a bride without a gown, she exits the ring… leaving an undeserved belt behind as he dealt the knockout punch shattering the glass cage which held the pieces of her broken heart, she realised she couldn’t find it in her heart to bear the title of a “wife” as she found she had no heart for him to find


The once empty cage, now shards as the shattered glass slices through her skin while she tries to search within for more than just memories coloured with blood and tainted with tears.

She searches for something she can’t find in a place that will only remind her that she failed, that her heart is a failure

That every cut and every bruise she was dealt was a well-deserved reward for a failing heart. That she was lucky her cardiac was not arrested for transgressing, and the death sentence was a just penalty…so she decides to stay at home.

You can’t hurt someone else when you’re on your own… so the best remedy for living without a heart is to live alone. Building walls high up and a gate made of steel to prevent anyone her body would appeal to from coming in, to hear the silent screams echo through the dark hallways of a lonely heart as she watches the mould growing and spreading, dreading the day she hears another voice say those three words, “I love you…”

Excerpt From: Okoye, Xyvah. “Zayin.” iBooks. 

Do you wanna build a snowman?

Dear Dotty,

It snowed today. I guess winter is finally here. 

The temperatures here have been dropping to minus so I was kind of expecting it to snow anyway. To be honest, I was quietly praying it would. Mummy says it doesn’t snow where you are, snow always reminds me of winter. Winter is my favourite season. 

I’m not saying I like the cold, it’s just that it reminds me of Christmas!!

Whenever I think about snow, I see the white rooftops and the colourful Christmas lights. I can see Christmas trees and pretty presents wrapped in shiny paper, feel the warm fires and smell the lovely roast. 

There’s thanksgiving and christingle, Christmas carols and New Years celebrations. Snow always reminds me of great times. I admit I was feeling quite low but when it started snowing, I cheered up pretty quickly. 

On my way home from swimming in the evening, i saw a little girl making a snowman. And although the snow was melting and slightly muddy, she seemed to be doing a great job at it. I remember walking past thinking, “that has got to be the dirtiest snowman ever!” But it still made me smile watching her roll balls of dirty snow in the cold. It made me realise that no matter how cold or dirty you may feel your situation is, no matter how alone you think you are, there’s always something you can do to make yourself happy. 

That’s my favourite part of winter. 

It’s facing up to the fact that life isn’t always warm and cosy, that it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. Realising that it can be cold and hard and dirty and lonely, and rather than sitting in doors and sulking about it, you can choose to go out there and build a snowman. 

So do you wanna build a snowman?

Lots of love,

Your granddaughter. 

Dear Dotty

Dear Dotty,

I really don’t know where to start…

Hi, I guess. How are you? I know you don’t know me and you’ve probably never heard of me before but I’ve heard quite a bit about you and I really want to get to know you better.

Last Christmas, mummy received a letter from you and I decided to try contact you. I was going to write to you, I even bought stamps and everything but when I tracked the return address, it wasn’t valid.

I guess as little as I know about you, you even know less about me and I really want you to know me before I meet you face to face so I wanna write to you as often as I can. I know my life is probably not much to write home about but I guess I’m gonna do so anyway.

Mummy tells me you have a son also, and he’s got kids too. How are they? I hope there okay and they make you smile. I haven’t got kids myself, just 3 annoying siblings. To be fair, they’re alright once you get to know them, they just like different stuff from me so we don’t always get along. You can say I’m a bit not like the rest of my family.. not really in a bad way, just in a different way.

I know this may sound really weird but everyone else acts like everyone else. They think the same and act the same and we can all tell the people they got their genes from. I know all the different members of my family and I’m not like them. I don’t know where I got it from but the doctors say it’s genetic so I must have got it from somewhere and the only member of my family I don’t know is you.

I was thinking that if I got to know you better, or if you got to know a bit more about me, we may be more alike than we realise.

Hope to hear from you soon.


Your Granddaughter.


A goldfish… a red herring… a black panther… a white lion…

Who said colour doesn’t matter?

Tell me it doesn’t matter when you stare out over a blue lake and can only see in black and white. Or when you look at a beautiful sunset and only see grey. Or maybe when you look at the traffic lights and they’re all a dull blue. Tell me colour doesn’t matter then. 

Don’t tell me that colour doesn’t matter when you’ve never been pushed around in the corridors because you’re black, or laughed at in class because you’re white. 

Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter. Tell it to that little girl who was beat with a clothes hanger just so they could watch her skin turn red, or when they stuck a comb in her hair and pulled on it to see how thick and curly it was. Tell her it didn’t matter when kids at school ostracised her because her skin tone was “too light to play in the sun”, or when she wasn’t in the school play because she was “too dark for the part”

Tell her colour didn’t matter when she couldn’t hang out with the black folk cos she’s “Oyinbo” and couldn’t chill with the white folk because she’s a “Nigga” and she had to eat her meals all alone or spend her free time buried under a pile of books. And she grew up not ever knowing where she fit in because her “colour” didn’t belong anywhere. Tell her it didn’t really matter when she spent her whole life searching for where she belonged and never found it, never truly fitted in because of the colour of her skin. Because she’s too tanned to be white and too pale to be black. Because her hair is too curly to be Caucasian and too straight to be Negro. Because she looks like both but doesn’t belong to any. 

Tell her it doesn’t matter when she’s known more by her colour and not by her name, carrying the stereotypes of both the black and the white woman while having the sympathy of none. Her struggles are multiplied and helping hands halved just because of the colour of her skin. To the white woman, she’s seen as a mistake and the the black woman, she’s seen as a threat and therefore never accepted by any because of the colour of her skin. 

Being black has always had its challenges, but we have a community which has our backs. And being white in a black mans community is never easy, but we have family, and systems tailored to our needs in order to help us cope. It’s all well an good when you’re one colour or the other, but when you’re a mixture of both you end up belonging to none. 

So the next time you look in the mirror and tell yourself that colour doesn’t matter, remember that it doesn’t matter to you because you actually have one, because you actually belong to a colour, to a race. Because you belong somewhere. Because no matter what I gain my identity from, be it achievement, possession or religion, I have to deal with people. People who all think I should act more black or be more white, or “suck it up like a black bitch” or “let it out like a white chick”. Who keep screwing with my head because I don’t praise black enough or I don’t pray white and I don’t study like a black girl but I don’t learn like a white girl and I don’t socialise like the black kids but I never party like white kids. And although I “dress like a white girl,” I “wear it like a black girl.” 

So I decided to carve out my own path, wear my hair and clothes my own way, study and learn my own way, eat what I like and cry if I want to, knowing that I’d never fit in because my real identity isn’t in the colour of my passport but in the colour of my skin and what that means to me and those around me. Because although I may be the lightest person in my church group, I’m still the darkest person in my study group and even though I may be the smartest of all my friends because I simply study more, it’s attributed to the colour of my skin cos apparently “white people always know that kind of stuff”. I decided, rather than fight my identity as an unidentifiable individual, I would embrace the hurt and the rejection that comes with not belonging. I would never again try to fit in, or be surprised by the difficulties I encounter because of the colour of my skin, and I would make it, whether the world liked it or not. 

And now, every time I wake up in a nice home, with a great life and great achievements, I look in the mirror and see that scared, lost little girl who never belonged, and I tell her “it’s okay honey, your colour never really mattered in the end. Look how far you’ve come, look who you’ve become. Look at the obstacles you’ve overcome. You’ve done so great, your colour never really mattered.” 

“No sweetie,” she would respond with tears in her little brown eyes, “it’s your colour that brought you this far, that made you become who you are today, that challenged you to overcome those obstacles. You’ve done so great because your colour really did matter. It really did.” 

Your colour does matter, but the difference it makes depends on what it means to you.