Short Story: Belonging by Ben Okri


The story that I read is entitled Belonging, by Ben Okri (hyperlinked above). We are brought into the sudden world of a man mistaken for a relative after unintentionally crashing a party. Rather than excusing himself, he steps into this unsustainable role, momentarily embracing the sensation of being one of many.

There are three pivotal moments: meeting the man he was mistaken for, being rejected and finding the destination he intended to go to in the first place. Upon viewing his mistaken self, the protagonist thinks: “He was, in the worst sense of the word, middle-aged; with no freedom, even to think independent thoughts.” How comical it is to hear this from a person with all the freedom from his true accumulated identity, momentarily independent from even himself.

Let’s just say his welcome to the gathering ended quickly, and with it a shift in attachments. He originally was to go to the only place he had left to go, to go visit his last ‘relation’ or relative.  The use of the word ‘relation’ here creates an abstraction of what blood ties really mean. From fake blood to real blood – what does it really signify?

These thoughts must have entered his mind as he left his momentary family, and passed by his true relation, “towards a life of [his] own.”

**Side note: this story was a blend of literary modes!! The biography of the author explains that it was what Okri deemed a ‘stoki’ – a mix of a haiku and a short story. I have yet to figure out the haiku component, so please comment if you can figure it out!!**

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Posted on December 1, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Short Story: Belonging by Ben Okri.

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