I can’t say I remember my suckling or cooing days. Neither can I claim to know for sure if I was a terrible toddler or not. What I can vouch for are the marks tattooed on my legs and forehead. Mama tells me they are monuments of the many falls sustained during my tender years. She has recounted to my horror, my audacious attempts at clambering the tall mango tree in our backyard at three! And how I slapped other children across their cheeks and watched them wail, unfazed, devoid of emotion. I am also told I once chortled and tried to reach for the slithery viper that crept into our living room. Thank God, Mama was always there to save me from me.
There is a phase my memory has not
deceived me. The time the upbeat, patriotic songs blared on the street corners
and lyrics of Michael Jackson and Grace Jones thumped through open windows and
muffled gramophones. I remember reciting every verse of Nothing is
Gonna Stop Us Now and painting my diary pages with every word. My
interests were innocuous at first. But as the music took on a new meaning, I
was no longer just chanting, scribbling and dancing to the rhythm. To the boy
who sent my pulses racing, I professed I Will Always Love You. When
he shattered my heart into a thousand pieces, I begged him to Come Back
to Me. I was just another Broken-Hearted Girl. Each
melody, each beat, every phrase, became poignant, sacred and meaningful. An
allegory for my life.
Those in the know say I was just a teenager with raging hormones.
But I swear the world was conspiring
against me. How else could I explain other girls having superior coiffures? Or
that my bulging thighs were an eyesore even in steeply priced habiliments
father bought with his hard-earned cash? By now, I had sassed what calls for
flattery and roused the opposite sex, and it was nothing I possessed. Nothing I
could pin down. Is it any wonder jealousy, self-doubt, and paranoia consumed
Then I took a stab at engineering my transformation. Skin lightening creams, hot combs and Palazzos came to the rescue. I am thankful there was no Snapchat and Instagram to increase the torture. Looking back now, I cringe at the things I did. What was I thinking? It was inevitable, I suppose, that gradually I would embrace who I was. It turns out, being me is okay. My looks do not define me. There is more to me than my hoarse voice and knobbly knees. My intelligence matters. I could shift my focus towards greater heights. Reach for the stars. Become the so-called woman of substance.
There are things I wish I had, want to have like yesterday, but I try not to dwell on what I cannot change or control. I am learning to trust the process. Friends and the need to belong are essential to me. But I am also at peace in my own company. When I experience defeat, my mantra is to try, try, try again. I pride myself on my resilience. My ability to bounce back. For how can I grow if I do not fall?
Somewhere within me lies a passion for igniting. I have something to offer, not only to my family or my immediate surroundings, but the world. It’s funny how an appetite develops into insatiable hunger. The realisation that there is an entire world to explore. Something else. I derive satisfaction from motherhood, wifehood, occupation, and all that which makes me a grounded being, I suppose, but should I suffer for wanting more? Striving for more? Geography and responsibilities do not a hindrance make. Personal expansion is mine for the taking. But first, I must know - what is my purpose?
With each season, I become my own philosopher, pondering, searching and demanding answers to life's tough questions. I know little, but I have heard and read the success stories. The distinguished men and women inventors. The DaVincis of our time. Writers and performers, and those whose names are not visible among the stars but have changed the world all the same. Who am I to stand in my way? I could write the world's most celebrated novel or find a cure for cancer. This fire is past kindling. Perhaps one day, like the cleansing furnace, it will rid me of the disquieting voice. That constant whisper that nudges me towards greatness and prompts me to find a reason to live. My purpose. Meaning.
Inevitably, I will enter my twilight years. Without a shred of doubt, I know that when the time comes, it will be the cacophony of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren's whines and feet that will afford me the most pleasure. I will treasure the feel of their tiny hands, exploring the contours of my wrinkled face. I will attend to their questions, showing as much zeal as the desire I have to make sense of it all now. I shall drown in their stunned, twinkly eyes when they listen to my tales. I will chuckle when they gasp at my ancient words. For it matters not if they get it or not. Because in the years to come, they will.
When the time comes for me to slow down, cross over to the other side, I want to reflect, inhale and exhale, knowing I did all I could. That I swam with the sharks and survived. That I swung for the fence, reached my full potential and fulfilled my destiny. Or at least gave it a whirl.
Hey, come back soon!