Girl, Woman, Other – Bernardine Evaristo – Quotes

[…] ageing is nothing to be ashamed of
especially when the entire human race is in it together
although sometimes it seems that she alone among her friends wants to celebrate getting older
because it’s such a privilege not to die prematurely

(on living in a squat):
the Marxists demanded they set up a Central Committee of the Workers’ Republic of Freedomia, which was a bit rich, Amma thought, seeing as most of them had taken ‘a principled stance against the running dogs of capitalism’ as an excuse not to work
the hippies suggested they form a commune and share everything, but they were so chilled and laid back, everybody talked over them
the environmentalists wanted to ban aerosols, plastic bags and deodorant, which turned everyone against them, even the punks who weren’t exactly known for smelling minty
the vegetarians demanded a non-meat policy, the vegans wanted it extended to non-dairy, the macrobiotics suggested everyone eat steamed white cabbage for breakfast
the Rastas wanted cannabis legalized, and reserved a plot on the land out back for their Nyabinghi gatherings
the Hari Krishnas wanted everyone to join them that very afternoon banging drums down Oxford Street
the punks wanted permission to play shouty music and were duly shouted down
the gay guys wanted anti-homophobic legislation enshrined into the building’s constitution, to which everyone replied, what constitution?
the radical feminists wanted women-only quarters, self-governed by a co-op
the lesbian radical feminists wanted their own quarters away from the non-lesbian radical feminists, also self-governed by a co-op
the black radical lesbian feminists wanted the same except with the condition that no whiteys of any gender were allowed inside
the anarchists walked out because any form of governance was a betrayal of everything they believed in

nor is the child she raised to be a feminist calling herself one lately
feminism is ho herd-like, Yazz told her, to be honest, even being a woman is passé these days, we had a non-binary activist at uni called Morgan Malenga who opened my eyes, I reckon we’re all going to be non-binary in the future, neither male or female, which are gendered performances anyway, which means your women’s politics, Mumsy, will become redundant, and by the way, I’m humanitarian, which is on a much higher plane than feminism
do you even know what it is?

yes but I’m black, Courts, which makes me more pressed than anyone who isn’t, except Waris who is the most oppressed of all of them (although don’t tell her that)
in five categories: black, Muslim, female, poor, hijabbed

Dominique began to regret allowing Nzinga to do everything and make decisions for her
she started to yearn to do the housework herself, yearn to cook, to clean, o do a job that was more intellectually demanding
her life was becoming empty of purpose other than to love Nzinga unconditionally, and, increasingly, obey her

Dominique should have sloped off then because the relationship was already irreparable, but she found herself unable to make such a big decision when she’d lost the ability to make even the smallest ones, such as what she ate and wore, and who she was allowed to speak to
she became wrapped up in the nightmare cocoon of Nzinga’s increasing paranoia

the day Nzinga punched Dominique on the arm was the day she thought she’d leave, reasoned it was a one-off, discovered it wasn’t when a single punch progressed into multiple ones

You must go back and fight the battles that are you British birthright, Carole, as a true Nigerian

Carole amended herself to become not quite them, just a little more like them
she scraped off the concrete foundation plastered o to her face, removed the giraffe-esque eyelashes that weighted down her eyelids, ripped off the glued-on talons that made most daily activities difficult

the only morning she doesn’t run is when she’s doubled over with period pains for which she takes extra-strength painkillers in order to haul herself to work or risk being accused of pulling a monthly sickie
busted! yes, you are a woman
she even contemplated having her womb taken out to eliminate periods altogether, which would surely be her greatest possible career move, a tactical hysterectomy for ambitious women with menstruation problems

the shame she had tried to suppress began walking towards her
she did not want to be that sort of person
it was not who she was

a Domestic Science classroom with steel preparation counters and gas cookers, ready to nurture the next generation of housewives, full-time housewife and full-time job, a downside of the Women Liberation Movement

Shirley realized that everything she’s ever wanted, she’d achieved, which hadn’t prepared her for rejection

who’s never satisfied with that she has: excellent health, cushy job, hunky husband, lovely daughters and granddaughter, good house and car, no debts, free luxury holiday in the tropics every year
though life Shirl

Winsome likes the fact that Rachel is curious enough to know who her grandmother was before she was a mother, when she was a person in her own right, as she described it

except she never has been, first she was a daughter, then a wife and mother, and now also a grandmother and great-grandmother

Penelope came to the conclusion that marrying someone when you’re in love with them was perhaps not such a good idea better to wait a few years (ten, twenty, thirty, never?) to see if you’re still compatible after the passion has subsided and reality set in

she loathed that feminism was on the descent, and the vociferous multi-culti brigade was on the ascent, and felt angry all the time, usually at the older boys who were disrespectful and the bullish male teachers who still behaved as if they owned the planet

his bredren and sistren could damned well speak up for themselves
why should he carry the burden of representation when it will only hold him back?
white people are only required to represent themselves, not an entire race

Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska 

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