"The Situation" II - Niamey/Paris

...consented intimacy confers the clear insight of small children and lovers...

A bi-national citizen of Jamaica and Niger, Antoinette Tidjani Alou is a professor, researcher, translator, and a self-defined “transwriter and (cultural) passeur” of autofiction, poetry and short stories in English and French. The author of a novel and a collection of stories, with two titles forthcoming in 2020, she directs the Arts and Culture Programme of Abdou Moumouni University in Niamey.



Morning. In bed. In my daughter Sarah’s and her husband Tidjane’s home. On leave. I’d flown from Niamey to Paris, to care for Sarah during her time of confinement, following the birth of baby Noah.

And now much of the world is confined in a common state of surrender. And life is slow and organic. We cook and eat and rub shoulders, breathing the same air. Thinking the same thoughts, on the same wavelength, literally.

Memory of this miracle had harked back to my children’s pre-kindergarten days. Back then Maryam, Sarah and Karima possessed the uncanny gift of voicing exactly what I was thinking.

Now, doubly confined, I learn that consented intimacy confers the clear insight of small children and lovers.

I wake yet again up with no intention to work. Now, in the state of COVID 19 confinement, this has become an ordinary condition. There is too much time for me to want to do anything with it. Emergency has died. The world has ended, late is no longer tragic. It can get even later. In this strange after-life, there are two solutions only:

1. a flurry of activity
2. none at all.

Two boxes. Place me in box number 2, and check.

Hmm…. Well, well.


After lunch. Same room, same bed; digesting food Sarah’s nostalgia has cooked today in spaces not intended for Afro-ghee, rank black-dried malahia leaves, stewed on state-of-the-art burners, in box-like houses, where even a whisper carries, making you wonder about parental intimacy in the years that will bring Noah, now a babe in arms, to the stage of a child who hears and understands.

Not that such common understanding ever killed the world’s children in the millennia before and since the invention of intimacy.