In the third essay inspired by Jendella Benson's debut novel Hope & Glory, Siana Bangura poignantly tackles how the expectations of our parents and ancestors can be difficult to navigate but if managed may lead to a life of hope...
One of the most human aspects of life is to have expectations.
And one of life’s many, many quirks is the everyday nature of some of its biggest shifts and transitions.
We’re often saddled with expectations of how our lives should be and in turn are burdened by the expectations of others. We are expected to love and respect our parents by default; we are expected to go through school, do well, and stay out of trouble; we are expected to go to university; graduate; get a good job; get married; buy a house; have kids; follow the laws of the land; grin and bear life’s ups and downs without becoming unravelled.
And even if, somehow, we’ve managed to do the important work of ridding ourselves of these expectations (unless we want them, of course) like our therapists and self-appointed Instagram gurus instruct us to, undeniably the scars of expectations never completely disappear.
There is a scale of expectation – magnified accordingly by the number of ways one is marginalised. We children of immigrants are well-versed in the stories of our parents; struggles to chase a better life for us against immeasurable odds. We know well of their many sacrifices – often leaving ‘home’ with the intention to return, then finding themselves metaphorically imprisoned across oceans and borders, thousands of miles away – the promise of return fading into a distant memory, a quiet whisper.