Nana King is an OAP with 92.3 Inspiration FM where she anchors the Midday Cafe. She also has an extensive portfolio in television production having worked for the BBC and several Nigerian companies including Soundcity and Spice TV where she was Creative Director.
When I wake up in the morning, I look in the mirror and wipe off the tears from the night before. I tell myself “hey woman, you can’t afford to be sad today…there are people who get uplifted by your voice and the smile on your face.”
I’m no Cinderella; I’m just a 28 year old happy go-lucky kid who made a personal choice to be happy even in the most painful moments. And painful moments, I do have, very much so. I’m just good at hiding them.
“I’m just a 28 year old happy go-lucky kid who made a personal choice to be happy even in the most painful moments.”
30 Days, 30 Voices series is an opportunity for young Nigerians from across the world to share their stories and experiences – creating a meeting point where our common humanity is explored.
by Nana King
“Sometimes the girl who has been there for everyone else needs someone to be there for her” (Unknown)
Her biological parents? Well, sadly, they had abandoned her when they realised her condition was too severe for them to handle financially.
In retrospect, I do understand that I was quite naive to think I could care for an Autistic child on my own. It’s a huge responsibility that requires undiluted love, faith, persistence and guts. If you don’t wear the shoes, you’ll never know where it pinches. I doff my hat to all Mothers raising children, living with Autism. You are super moms!
Being a naturally free spirited human being, I found that generosity was and still is a significant part of my existence. Nonetheless, I think I’m the most misunderstood person on earth. People who don’t know me, see me from far-off and assume “she’s light skinned, she’s pretty, that’s why she gets everything.” To that I say, my greatest asset, which I thank God for everyday, is my personality. I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious. My passionate curiosity plus a God given personality, has led me to a place called success.
Writing is one of the most difficult tasks in this present day, given that the internet supplies you with every piece of info you’ll possibly ever need to last you a lifetime. When Ynaija asked me to write, I thought to myself, oh dear Lord! What to do? Where do I get the inspiration to write without going on the internet to plagiarise someone’s work?
“The reactions of the many should not affect the actions of the few.” (Joey Lawsin)
My final words for you would be, find what gives you inner peace and make it a part of your recommended five-a-day. For me, my inner peace comes from being around children. From my little girl (Nkem), I’ve learnt that life is too short to acknowledge or accommodate negativity or negative people.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
These days, I like to describe myself as a smiley-smiley, bubbly social butterfly who loves to live, love and laugh. I actually think I’m the only person on earth who laughs through her pain. I smile so much and laugh so hard, people term my life as perfect. They see me as a real life Cinderella.
“The prettiest smiles hide the deepest secrets. The prettiest eyes have cried the most tears and the kindest hearts have felt the most pain.” (Unknown)
It took a while for me to discover my strong points. Back then in Middlesex University, I would prepare the mother-of-all presentations with killer diagrams on the projector and cue cards that looked all kinds of professional, for a basic Uni student. I would speak with so much tenacity and confidence. Recite every dictionary word I had managed to muster from the night before. But every time I got my score sheet, the very first thing my tutors would indicate is “lovely captivating smile and personality you’ve got there – it made the presentation all the more interesting to watch.”
An extensive and annoying conversation with the head Matron, followed through. After which we came to an agreement. I get to adopt the little girl virtually. By virtual adoption, it means I get the chance to play mummy to her and make necessary financial provisions for her, whilst she remains in the care of the Hospice. I was also given the chance to give her a name of my choice…to be her middle name. And of course, I chose Nkem (My Own).
I have a show on radio called #AskNana on #TalkTalkThursday where people ring in with all kinds of problems with the anticipation that ‘agony aunt Nana’ will find a solution to their crisis. At the end of each session, I find that everyone else walks away happier with a definite sense of relief, while I remain saddled with my own demons. What about me? How come no one ever asks me about my problems?
I have no particular punch line for this article; it’s just ‘The Chronicles of Narnia Nana’. I’ll keep going until I start making some sense.
I left there feeling devastated and deep in thought. In a nut shell, I went back to the Hospice three days late, after much cogitation. I requested a private meeting with the head matron. I told her that I would love to adopt the little girl I had played with the other day. She looked at me with a certain bewilderment and then let out the most disheartening laughter I ever heard. She blurted out “my dear you’re too young for that, moreover you’re not married.”
“Sick? Does the sickness not have a name?” I asked, as I gently lifted her from the cot she had been confined in. The moment I picked her up, this little angel gripped me so hard, I felt a certain warmth in my body. Right there and then, I told the Matrons I wanted to pay for her medicals. Whatever the cost, I was ready to pay; But I was flustered by the lack of empathy in their response “don’t waste your money, her sickness has no cure,” they said.
Her diagnosis was clearly stated as Rett Syndrome which is sometimes classified within the Autism Spectrum as Severe Autism. Rett syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects only girls. Girls with Rett syndrome develop severe symptoms including the hallmark social communication challenges of autism. Additionally, Rett syndrome can profoundly impair girls’ ability to use their hands usefully. So, you can imagine the type of life Nkem is subjected to, on a daily.
All I do is Live, Love, Laugh, like it’s my last. I think you should do the same.
I find that having a show like this, on radio, is quite therapeutic for me. I tend to have an Oprah Aha! moment, on every #TalkTalkThursday. I don’t wait for things to happen to me before I learn; I see life through the eyes of other people. Sometimes I find answers to some of life’s most pressing questions, by listening to the real life experiences of my callers. From their pain, I heal my wounds. It’s like a virtual Alcohol Anonymous gathering without the ‘Alcohol’.
Right now in my life, all that matters to me is self-love. I’ve learnt the hard way to love myself first before I can love anyone else. My greatest love today, is my adopted daughter called Nkem. I named her Nkem meaning ‘My Own’, because I see her as my own child birthed for me vicariously through the womb of another woman.
I went through a very challenging period in my life and the only place I found solace was in the embrace of the little kids I played with every weekend in the Orphanage. No one ever knew I went there, no one still knows I go there. I just remember how one habitual visit, brought me in close proximity with a ‘newbie’ I had never seen before. Her soft dimpled smile caught my attention. But I noticed she wasn’t playing with the other kids. I asked the Matrons why? They said she was sick.
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