The stories of Bola Babalola reset the idea of ​​who sees and who sees

Mythical stories from around the world, retold
Written by Bolu Babalola

Before being a best-selling author, Nigerian-British writer Bolu Babalola was a rom-com expert, social media observer and, infamously, Michael B. Jordan’s “girlfriend” – a humorist armed with Twitter, Photoshop and the ability to see a joke without giving you don’t be embarrassed. Some would say that Babalola was the narrator the whole time. A lot of people can use Photoshop to paste next to a celebrity; little compels us to make sure to join the high story, much less to manifest that story into reality. Like heroin in her debut book “Love in Color: Mythical Stories from Around the World, Retelling,” Babalola resists having her aspects aligned because of other people’s perceptions.

“Love in Color” is a collection of 13 short love stories – 10 retellings (from the Ghanaian “Princess Wedding” to the Greek Psyche and Eros), as well as three “New Stories”, original short romantic works from Babalola (one of which is based on the relationship of her parents). A sharp sense of humor runs through every story that is wonderfully diverse in subgenre, voice and time period: “Osun” tells the myth of Yoruba as a new love triangle for adults in the background of the style of returning home; “Naleli” immerses himself in the folk tale of Lesotho and appears with a carbonated romance of a friend out of love with YA; “Siya” and “Nefertiti represent warrior-type heroines in fantastic forest dens, or modern spikeasy; and “Zhinu is an entertained modern pop star rom-com reducing Chinese myth.

As with most fairy tales, there is an aspect of warning in Babalola’s stories as well. Some question less vibrant shades of love, such as partners trying to possess and muffle their lovers instead of amplifying their brightness. There is a subtle emphasis on how romantic relationships, which should be a safe haven, can instead reduce women to objects and caregivers whose work is not reciprocated. In “Osun,” Osun is the only one who can calm Sang’s thunderous rage, though he can’t be bothered when he knows she likes to dance; in “Yaa,” Yaa must support Kofi’s political aspirations and serve as a vessel for his emotions while cheating on her birthday. In these modern stories, the monster is not necessarily a dragon, but emotionally stunted partners expelling patriarchal societies.

The golden thread interwoven with stories is the power – the need – of being saw. Seeing is an integral aspect of genre romance and love story, just as necessary as encounters and good luck forever. What is love, apart from the process of seeing, knowing and nurturing us anyway?

“Osun was used to being seen, but from now on she will become accustomed to being seen.”

“I’m just looking for someone who sees me the way I see her.”

“Zhina liked the idea that Niulang looked at her more than any audience she performed for.”

This aspect of the story reminded me of one of the few things I remember from English classes in college, an excerpt from John Berger’s “The Way of Seeing,” which states that “a woman’s own sense of being suppresses the feeling of being valued as herself. “In the film ‘Love in Color’, Babalola twice leans towards the special appeal of love stories about marginalized women and about them, who are generally denied a romantic agency in pop culture if our existence is acknowledged at all: a notion of us. Heroines are strong and confident, even if they don’t always listen to their inner truth. When a love interest tries to impose his idea of ​​her on what she knows, the dissonance clearly shows that he is no One. By telling these stories, Babalola herself becomes a seer and seen, subversively providing a correction to the Western idea of ​​who can indulge in love out of love and whose myths are worth retelling.

One of the pleasures and occasional pitfalls of such a collection is that each story can be vastly different from the one that preceded it. A few stories don’t quite hit their targets, but Babalola’s writings shine whether she writes parry-riposte banter or a fresh, evocative interior; each story is likely to find readers who choose it as their personal favorite in the book. “Love in color”, on the whole, is a strong and necessary reset of who is the seer, who is seen and who can do both.