Hello, I’m Idayat. I read about Betini for the first time in an interview written by Aliyah Maruf also for Àyànfé Magazine. While I was reading about her, I learned that she had published a collection of poetry and I also got the impression of a person that feels all of her feelings. At a later time, I got to know her on Emecheta Collective. She radiates warmth. When I think of a warm person, my mind drifts to Betini. I am always in deep awe of how she states her mind and her circumstances: with an ease that seems effortless. She has the most gorgeous voice you’d ever hear. And her smile outshines the sun. So, I wasn’t surprised when my mind went to Betini as I thought of whose Hidden Gele should I display so elegantly on ÀyànféZine.
Experience Betini for yourself.
“What are your simple pleasures of life?” I started. Betini had said she was happy to be doing this.
“Errm, what are my simple pleasures of life?” She ruminated. “Well, having clean clothes! Like after a whole day of laundry and just seeing my clothes dry, that’s…that’s a pleasure.” She laughed softly. She paused for a moment. “Errmm,” she pondered for a second or two and continued, “making food that everyone likes.” There was an excitement in her voice. “I like it when I cook, especially when it is a simple food like sauce or pasta, and my dad or my mom or somebody just says, ‘this is really nice’, that makes me really happy. Errrmmmmm, walks? Taking walks around my estate and discovering new streets, ‘Oh, I have never seen this street before, so this street has always been there’ or just be like, ‘Ah, so this road leads to this road’. You know, that kind of thing, yeah.”
“They are pleasures indeed. I can hear it in your voice even. I take walks too, but for the most part, my walks are not for pleasure. I take them to have something to do when I feel especially lonely and alone.” I took a second to swallow my sadness and afterward asked Betini, “Do you feel sad?”
“Are you asking about right now or most of the time? If your question is about right now, then yeah, I do feel sad most of the time. I feel sad right now, for a lot of reasons. I felt sad yesterday. I felt sad this morning. I think I am always sad, you know, usually always sad. I have my moments of happiness when I’m like, ‘Wow, oh my god!’ but, like 80% of the time, I’m mostly like, well…I guess, that’s just the way things are.”
“How do your simple pleasures help with the sadness? Are your moments of happiness the times you embark on your simple pleasures?” I could see my sadness in hers. A lot of times, I whisper her words to the sources of my sadness too: well…I guess, that’s just the way things are.
“I find myself unable to do these things when I’m sad,” Betini responded. “You should see me when I’m in the kitchen, when I’m excited and I go all out but when I’m in that sad place, everything just piles up: the clothes—they pile up, and walking seems like such a laborious task that I don’t even want to…that I don’t even want.” Betini gave a little laugh that understood her plight. “I have tried that whole walking when I’m sad and cooking; everything just turns out so terribly.” She paused, said, “No,” then continued, “I prefer when I’m in a good place so I can truly enjoy it. I don’t want to link all these things to moments when I was sad and not be like, ‘Oh, I was already sad when I made this bummed pasta.’ I want it to be like, ‘I was so excited, and making this meal made me even more excited, right? Not linking it to sadness.”
“What leads you to happiness? What inspires your moments of pleasure?”
“Let’s see…I don’t like doing things in silence. I like silence when people are shouting and are loud but I generally don’t like silence. Maybe music, maybe somebody gisting me, movies. And I watch a lot of movies on YouTube, right? The other time when I said I like washing clothes, I can find a movie and decide that it is perfect to wash clothes to. And I just set the movie while washing clothes and before I knew it, I had washed all my clothes and been through three other movies. So watching movies leads me to happiness and hunger!” Betini laughed happily. “When I’m hungry especially. And also I like it when I get to explore new ideas, new options. When I find the perfect book and I open it, it makes me very happy.”
“I can definitely relate to this. I found Lonesome Dove randomly online and to this day, it is my favorite book. I love it so much. So, I can definitely relate with this joy.” My mind briskly ran through the immaculate characters of the Pulitzer Award Winning book, and a little smile tugged at my mouth. “Do you find ideal love in books? Like have you ever found your perfect love in a book?” I asked Betini because the affection between Clara and Gus in Lonesome Dove stayed on my mind a moment longer.
“No no. I haven’t, I have not. My idea of love is in some books. Someone has definitely written about it, I just haven’t found the book yet. Maybe that’s why I read so many romance novels, I’m looking for something in particular. Also, I read a lot of toxic scandalous literature and something close to my ideal love is from The Idea of You. The whole intensity and surrender. But no, I have not found my perfect love in a book,” Betini responded. “And I should read Lonesome Dove.”
“I love romance too and I’m yet to find my perfect love in a book. But have you found it in real life?” I asked. “And yes, you should read Lonesome Dove, it is the best book ever.”
“Have I found love in real life?” Betini gave a small laugh. “I mean, I have liked people who have liked me back. I guess you can say I have loved people once or twice but it’s never been what I’m looking for, not really. I want to say it’s never been enough but then, I don’t want to sound like I’m not content and I’m the kind of person that asks for too much. It’s just never really been what I want. I can’t say I haven’t found love but not that kind, not the kind that I wish I did find or have.” Betini laughed again, in a small way.
“What is the kind of love that will be enough?”
“The type of love that we will get to learn about each other and learn from each other. Do you get? That kind of love. And in a few adjectives: intense, honest, free, peaceful, vulnerable, sweet. The kind of love that I get to grow in and grow with. No one is rushing anything, we are just going with the flow and enjoying ourselves on a journey, you know. That kind of love.”
“The adjectives in yours can be found in mine too, especially intent. You know, I used to think physical touch was my love language and anytime I was asked about which language of love made me melt, I’d say physical touch but on closer thinking recently, I realized that it is words of affirmation. In all of its capacity. I thrive in conversations, I love when I’m assured, I love when I’m talked to in every dimension of a romantic setting. And this is really interesting, how one keeps finding oneself. I still love physical touch and all but it is second to words of affirmation or it is third to words of affirmation and quality time,” I responded. “What language do you love in? How do they fit into your adjectives of love?”
“I love in every language. I guess that’s what I mean by intense. I do not know how to do things simply. I want to throw my whole being in and do whatever I can to show you and I expect the same back. I understand that not everyone is the same sha but a little effort, lol. For physical touch, I want to be held and shown love in small and big gestures, like holding my hand while we’re watching a movie and no one knows but us. Words of affirmation? I want to wake up with encouraging texts and reminders that we’re in this. Together. Doesn’t have to be every day, but my people know that sometimes they open their phone to random I love you. Someone once asked me if I was dying. I think I said too much. lol. Acts of service: please fold my clothes with me. If there are ways you see my life can be easier at the moment and there are ways I can make the load easier for you, I will do it. I will go out of my way to do stuff that would make your load lighter and your smile wider if I can. In any way I can. I pray for someone who understands this is what I want for myself too. All these, they fit in when I say I want to experience something intense, honest, and intentional. Words mean you can talk to me, we can communicate, openly, about anything. Intentional means we understand what our needs are and how we can be there for each other and help each other. Intense just means we can take all these and just be for each other.
“This is so lovely. You said my mind with the physical touch and words of affirmation. And the acts of service too? Yes! How do you feel about quality time?” I was so awed, that I could feel my heart glow.
“All these other things are not separate from this. They make up for spending time together. Without making an effort to spend quality time together, all these wouldn’t happen.”
“True, true. I have never looked at quality time this way and you are very very right. Because if none of you were present to spend the time with one another, the other languages wouldn’t even give at all.” I became curious about her dating life, so I asked, “Have you dated before?”
“I’ve been in three relationships my whole life, none of them lasted, unfortunately.”
“I have not been in any my whole life. And I don’t know if I should say fortunately or unfortunately.”
“It depends on your reason. Be glad you’ve not had the time for the shege men bring to the table.”
“Is there a common theme that made your former relationships die untimely?”
“Common theme would be self-sabotage in French,” Betini snickered.
“The reasons I haven’t dated are even blurry now but I know I woke up one morning and I realized I was 23 years old with no relationship ever. I shook my head vigorously,” I offered. After a thought, I responded again, “I am not single, I am alone.”
“I feel you. I wake up the same too. I’ll tell you this, I regret every single one of them, the relationships I mean.”
“The last one, for example, from two years ago, broke up too soon and ruined a great friendship. It’s one of the times I should have said no. I had been so excited about something new with someone I knew, I didn’t think it through.”
“I am so sorry about this,” I attempted to console Betini. “Especially the friendship part, I think I can understand the hurt. Excitement, excitement, it has put me in quite some holes too. You see a fine man and excitement carries you away. Before you know it, you are lovesick all over your bed.” A memory briefly went through my mind.
“Eventually, that excitement dies and you don’t know what you are doing.”
“Yeah, a certain confusion takes its place.” I made an effort to direct my mind away from the memory of the confusion. So, I asked Betini: “But overall, what are you happy about in your life? Even if it is contentment, what are you content about?”
“Family. That’s the one aspect of my life I am happy and content with.”
“Me too. My phone rings several times a week and the calls are always from family. From mom, dad, brother, and sisters. And I sincerely appreciate it. Sometimes, I yearn for a call from a person I’m romantically attached to or from a friend but if wishes were horses… Nevertheless, I am content and happy with my family too.”
“My family and I are not big on communication but I just know that we have each other’s backs, that’s more than enough for me. And I desire the same too, but I’m cool with it. I’m young and still have much to explore.”
“Yes, yes, and I’m rooting for me and you.”
“Thank you so much.”