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Why I Can’t Tell my Grandma the Title of My Book

My grandma has asked me what the title of my book is. She has asked me more than once, because she forgets we have had this discussion before. And it is always awkward for me – how many times must a person be forced to lie?

I tell her the title is My Sister…and leave it at that. If I were to disclose the whole thing to her--those three extra words--I am certain she would become fixated on it. My father and mother have long since come to the conclusion that the book sounds too dark for them, and seeing that my grandmother’s sensibilities are for more fragile, I am not willing to risk the possibility of her confusing my novel with reality.

Conversations with my grandma are always a little stilted. There are the generations between us, the fact that she used to be so strict and almost unapproachable, and the language barrier – though her English is fantastic, she is far more comfortable speaking Yoruba. She will say to me, “Oyinkan, teach me to speak English the way you do,” and I will tell her that she already does.

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