That Thing Around Your Neck

Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

Read time: about 2 minutes

Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche is the author who introduced me to feminism. She is the author who made me realise that I was a feminist all along. Therefore, when I saw that the book has a short story from her new collection of stories I jumped at the opportunity immediately.

This story is completely unrelated to the her non-fiction on feminism that I fell in love with. ‘That Thing Around Your Neck’ is the title story from the short stories collection by the same name.

The story is about an African girl who wins a lottery to be an American citizen. The lottery is the best thing that has ever happened to anyone in her entire family. The family sees this as an opportunity to realise the big American dream of having a big house and a car. No guns, her parents say. They have heard much about the country.

The girl moves in with her uncle’s family- not blood relative, though. She faces sexual advances from her uncle that was not related by blood. You were no longer a child of twenty two. If you let him, he would do many things for you. Smart women did it all the time.

She moves out of the house, takes up a job and starts working for a restaurant that pays her one dollar lesser than the white folks.

The girl finally meets someone who loves her. She finally has something to write home about. All along the things that was around her neck loosens. She feels she can breathe again.

The entire story is about this immigrant girl who comes to America to realise a dream. She does not quite has it all but she definitely sees a light through the tunnel.

The author describes her mind like a mirror. The insecurities and the shame is heart breaking.

When your father came back into the car, you refused to look at him because he was just like the pigs that wallowed in the marshes around the market. Your father looked like nsi. Shit.

The entire story is written addressing You. If that is not impactful, what it?

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Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH