The last time we spoke, I talked to the little you – it was fun and humbling. Today, I’ll take a visit to the teenage you, based on some things I know now. In as much as there are many things to say (about aunties, uncles, neighbours and friends) – as we did during our last talk, today, I’ll talk about something quite intimate and personal: beauty – your own beauty.
To start with, what does beauty mean to you? Oh wow, I see you trying to wipe your tears, you don’t know what beauty is. Your idea of beauty is what Papa tells you; that your ears are too big (“just like your mother” he would add so he won’t sound harsh, even though he and mama divorced years ago and what they have for themselves is nothing but hatred). He would tell you that you are too black and too thin. And because that was all you ever heard, to have the opposite of what he abused you for was your idea of beauty. You grew up thinking you were not good enough, talk more of being beautiful enough.
Do you also remember when you were much younger, when you just changed your school and you were in Primary 4? How those new classmates of yours would tease you about your legs being long and bonny?. They also said you had a k-leg, right? So if the ears are gone, the skin is gone and the legs, what remains of your body? What is left to make a beautiful body? And oh, remember uncle Tom? Daddy’s youngest brother who used to take you to school and take care of you then? Remember the things he did to you? How he lay on you, did so many shocking things with you and asked you not to tell a soul? So what’s there to love about you? You’ve always asked yourself. Well, I will tell you something. It’s quite long, but if daddy does not call me in the next five minutes to welcome his younger sister, aunty Bola who just returned from England, then I will tell you everything.
First and foremost, you know that idea of beauty? That we are all meant to be a certain way? And that if you are not tall and fair, you are not beautiful? It’s a lie. Guess my shock when I discovered it! I realized that the idea that we all should be the same, even though we come from different family trees, is a big illusion. For how would you expect someone with short and sturdy parents to suddenly be tall and slender? How would you expect parents who have no fair person in their lineage to suddenly give birth to someone fair? Yes, for some reason, these things can happen, especially when a baby comes to the world with a mind and skin of his/her own (as grandma would say when talking to Timileyin, your younger brother who she just doesn’t understand).
Back to my ‘discovery’. Would you expect a catfish and another fish specie to come together and birth a dog? Is this possible? Of course not! Even if they both produce a fish, it will be an entirely different kind of fish. Such are humans when we come together to have our child(ren). Of course, we will birth a human being, but the difference in our individual nature and genes will make us give birth to someone different and unique. That means – as humans, we come once in a lifetime. We are not limited editions, we are masterpieces! A glimpse of inspiration that flashes across once, in a specific form that the world would never get again (except for a doppelganger effect, which we both know does not exist. They were myths told and passed down to generations).
I wish I could tell you much more about beauty, but I can hear aunty Bola’s voice in the background. Daddy will soon call me, so let me quickly tell you this before I go.
Do you remember Leonardo da Vinci? Dad’s favourite artist of all time; the one he would always talk about. Remember the many masterpieces he produced as an artist? The same artist, different masterpieces? It is exactly what happens when humans produce. And it is one reason the same parents can give birth to different individuals.
You are a masterpiece. Your legs, the ear and all the things you have that daddy/others always mocked you for are exactly the things that make you, you! Imagine if, one day, you walked into the living room with much smaller ears, a very fair skin, fat legs and all, would daddy still recognize you? I bet not. Because the Febisola he knows is one that is exactly like you – slim, tall, lovely dark skin, lovely ears (even though he calls them big, who else in the world has them exactly like yours?) and all.
Who you are is unique. You are a masterpiece. Once you are gone (in your old ripe age, I pray), nobody else would be exactly like you. People might try to copy you, but none would be you exactly. Or have you seen another Michael Jackson? Another Frank Sinatra, or Maya Angelou? No, because they are gone and gone for life. That exact face of them cannot be naturally achieved, because we humans come once in a lifetime – as a masterpiece of creation. So, relax babe, you are beautiful the way you are. Smile because no one else is, and can be, like you.
Daddy just called me now. I’ll come back to you later. We still need to talk about self-awareness and why you should have it, especially as the teenager you are. I will also talk to you about what uncle Tom did to you, and why you should not allow it to define you anymore, even though you’ve carried the memories and pain for years.
I love you, my baby. Never give up on us, at least for me and you.