Sunday, 8 July 2012

Look, I have a strategy. Why expect anything? If you don't expect anything, you don't get disappointed - Patricia McCormick

I'm exhausted. As is anyone who's just watched the Wimbledon men's final. Such a display of athleticism, skill and power.

I'm also disappointed.  I'm an Andy Murray fan.  For which I make no apology or excuse.  I know that many don't like him.  Or worse.  And I desire neither to defend my sentiments nor condemn theirs.  Just to express my great admiration for AM and all that he has achieved.  Go Andy!

Personally, I have never been very sporty.  But I am intensely moved by anyone performing at the top of their game.  Whatever their game may be.  Still, how horrid is the disappointment and, indeed, agony of watching a sporting hero miss the mark.  Nothing like the agony suffered by the sporting hero him/herself, I grant you.  But all the same.

I am very much for avoiding disappointment at all cost.  Hence the safety - and thus delight - of reading.  Where my personal investment is normally matched and satisfied.  Normally.

Still, expectations can be too high.  Even from books.

Not too long ago, I read The Bride Price by Buchi Emecheta.  From my reading list.  The cover told me it was a "poignant love story" set in Nigeria.   And Simon Mason, of my book list, said it was an "observant and compassionate account of a young girl's struggle to defy and survive tribal customs, and an upsetting tense drama of a forbidden love affair". 

I was intrigued and expectant. It would, among other things, introduce me to Ibo traditions.  I was ready for a rough emotional ride.  But I anticipated a little sunshine, for all that.  I was disappointed.  And intensely pained.

The title of the book was the key:  tribal lore states that a woman will die in childbirth if her bride price is not paid.  Aku-unna, the central protagonist, lives through turmoil and tears and struggling.  She seems to win through.  And then the tribal lore prevails.  Like fighting against all odds and then life biting you in the bottom anyway.  Or should I say, man's law biting the woman in the bottom.  Again. 

I wanted hope, and none was proffered.  I wanted justice, but it was denied.  It made me mad.  But that's possibly my problem, not the book's. 

Watching AM today, I witnessed an athlete failing against all odds.  It was hard.  But hope prevails.  Wimbledon will come again.  He will win through another time.  And we all need hope.  It sustains life through disappointment.  Even the disappointment of losing a Wimbledon final.  C'mon Andy!

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