For three nights in a row after finishing Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah I found myself missing Ifemelu and Obinze.
It was about 11 at night, and I was sitting in bed with the vastness of the Oakland sky outside my window. I reached to my side table and held Adichie’s book, still in awe of how one book could contain multiple worlds. How one book could illustrate timelines and lifetimes.
I saw myself in the pages, along with Ifemelu and Obinze, the two main characters of Americanah. Ifemelu, with her “prickliness.” Obinze, with his tenderness.
Reading about their lives unraveled a reality that was a little bit familiar, albeit entirely different. As I turned each page, I knew that I resonated with the book so much because of two things: immigration and the (im)possibilities of long-distance love.
When Ifem (a nickname from Obinze) moved to the U.S., her experience as a non-American Black woman was amplified. It was new to her, much as being a Filipino was new to me.