They said, “Once you learn to speak, you’ll finally be able to express yourself and your personality… now say ‘MAMA'”
And so I spoke. But I was told about good words & bad words. I was told to laugh much softer because I’m not a boy.
They said, “Once you get to high school, you’ll really get to be yourself. The rules there aren’t like these baby rules we have in primary school.”
And so I went. But I was told what length of my skirt, what width of my shirt strap is appropriate or respectable. They told me that the twisted locks I wanted in my hair were “dreadful” and that they were “hard to maintain & manage”. I wanted to read more and spend less time on the devastating math which I would never enjoy or excel at but they told that that wasn’t what my country needed.
They said, “Find a woman you relate with from the Bible and come back next week to tell us about why you feel she is the Biblical version of you” – and to the boys, their Biblical men versions.
But I couldn’t relate with any – I hardly even knew any because when else were women in the Bible referred to as role models except for when the women and little girls to refer to in order to improve themselves? But we all had to aspire to be like Job and Jesus and Noah and Moses and Isaac and Abel and the other Joseph and Paul and Peter and and and.
Then they said, “When you get to university you’ll find your true self. You can rebrand & reinvent yourself.”
But when I arrived I was given the identity of a flower. Beautiful. Graceful. Smart but Docile. But flowers can never exist for themselves – they exist to be picked, to be enjoyed by someone else. To be sniffed and marvelled at by someone else. The value of a flower is not intrinsic, it comes from the value which its observer places on it. And I was meant to be grateful if I was picked. Until I realised that I wouldn’t be picked – at least not in this garden. My skin colour, the coils in my hair, the bulges on my hips and flare of my nostrils made me the thorny kind of flower that didn’t get picked. I was hurt by not being the flower the pickers wanted…until I realised what trash flower pickers were. Flower pickers do not see flowers for the beauty they possess or their functional properties but for how they will improve the picker’s living room view or the aroma in their homes. Or in my case, flower pickers were egotistical, misogynistic, racist, classist and shallow.
They said, “Once you leave university and have your own family, you’ll completely be your own person.”