Well if I was to start talking about Halloween, and I was to start talking about my faith, perhaps some people would be able to guess what I was about to say. That’s right, such was the strictness of my faith growing up that Halloween was one of the big things that we were never allowed to remotely think about or celebrate. And frankly I would not have wanted to celebrate it then, and I equally have not the slightest particular desire to celebrate it now. It celebrates spirits of darkness and death and is just a dark dark thing. Which is a real shame as without all the ghouls and witches it would have been quite a nice autumnal festival.
As I say it was a huge no-no growing up and all the more so because witchcraft is considered to be a real negative force in Nigeria and many African countries, and I’m sure Asian countries, Latin America. I can speak categorically for Nigeria that issues of witchcraft are not laughed off as silly jokes as I have seen people laugh them off in the West. In Africa witchcraft is not considered to be an alternative, trendy religious choice as it appears to be in the West. Rather it is considered to be potent and destructive and overwhelmingly negative. And real. Africa after all never went through “the Enlightenment” . We still unapologetically believe in the supernatural world. I naughtily read “The Worst Witch” series when I was at Primary School. My parents were not happy when they found out. Similarly I used to love reading fairy tales from around the world, and I received a light reprimand when my teacher casually told my parents that I loved reading stories featuring princesses and witches…. Only a light reprimand because reading stories about princesses and witches is still…reading which is very highly encouraged in my African background!*
(Speaking of fairy tales, on a side note, I am now somewhat embarrassed by this short story because it is so very sickly sweet but I did write it super-fast, and published it just over 6 years ago to the day! This adaptation of Cinderella was my one excursion into writing fairy tales. Before I wrote this story I thought I could literally write fairy tales all day every day but after a childhood immersed in them I was somewhat surprised to discover how quickly I grew bored of the genre. If you want, check it out here! (It’s not free. Shrug – Sorry!) Oh, and what a coincidence, in the tiny excerpt there is a reference to “garlands of autumnal greenery” – ha ha!!!) I guess it is quite ironic that someone who loves fairy tales so much should have such a prosaic, pragmatic approach to relationships, and should specifically reject the idea of marrying a rich prince of her own. Ironically, today was the day I finally dragged myself out of this house to watch “Crazy Rich Asians” which is also a kind of fairy tale, again an adaptation of the Cinderella story. I will always enjoy watching and reading, if not writing, depictions of splendour and opulence while rejecting this kind of lifestyle for myself!)
But beyond issues of witchcraft, something that occurred to me quite a few years ago is this: all the things that are used to represent evil at Halloween: the blood, the monsters, the pumpkins, those are not the things that create true evil in the world. What truly creates evil is what starts in our hearts. I guess it is quite convenient for us as human beings to act as if evil is something other, distant, that literally lives in another supernatural realm, and then to project the concept of evil onto weird Halloween monsters that are not real. And yet much of the monstrosity that we see around the world and in our own day to day lives comes from within. Yes, the Bible teaches that the supernatural world is real, and there are real demons etc, but the way evil is planted in our world is consistently through our own human acts. And we can see that all around us. We don’t need to go looking for ghouls and monsters and werewolves to blame for much of the pain in our world. Yes, there often are natural disasters and accidents but so much misery is directly, deliberately man-made and often even woman-made (sometimes even boy-made…and girl-made!)
To reflect that, I was thinking of compiling a series of horror stories in relationships. Just a very short series, like say 4 or so, to coincide with the Halloween season. But I am currently considering how to go about that exactly. What I am wary of is sharing stories that are too negative. Also I don’t want to give the impression that all relationships are negative. That is why I am thinking of limiting it to a short series of no more than 4 stories. And the truth is that there really are some bad stories about. Which is why I don’t even want to link to them. I don’t even want to describe what happened in each situation as they are too dark. I think that what I’ll do is I’ll skip out all these really hard stories and instead focus on more palatable stories which will still illustrate the relevant points about character etc without giving anyone nightmares. So this post itself has been an introduction. I hope to be sharing a few of these relationship horror stories-lite over the coming days and weeks!
*So imagine my amazement when other Christians who are just as Nigerian as I am – in fact, even more so, AND just as Christian as I am – talked casually about consuming the whole series of Harry Potter, the books, the movies everything?! In case you’re wondering, the answer is “No”, that emphatically did not happen in my house!