I knew it would ultimately be different
but such a drastic change; I was not prepared for.
Unexpectedly it wasn’t my surroundings that had undergone this alteration;
It was me.
Unbeknownst to my Antiguan counterparts; my family, my friends, my acquaintances, in Barbados, I was allowed to take on a new persona and with it a new perspective on life. What with all the intellectual minds I happened to encounter in my studies, it was easy to see how one young soul could become so influenced.
However, with the good comes the bad. Always. And what I was not mentally prepared for was what would be everyday experience which could make or break a student and extensively, a female. The moral norms of society, upon entrance into university were completely abandoned as appears to me. Girls leave the whole ‘perception of a lady’ ideology at the wayside as they invite 2,3,4 guys into their room whilst boys do what boys do best…Fuck.
I, as I transitioned from naivety into that of the world, went through a whirlwind of emotional trauma. From academic failure to realization of inadvertent rejection from my first UWI-interest; I had stumbled into the pits of unknown realities.
As a last resort, for some sort of accomplishment, albeit minor and very insignificant, I turned to the comforts of companionship, from ‘the new’ to ‘the player’, it was fun while it lasted, but at the end of the day there was always that pre-existing gap.
Alongside this loneliness came apathy. It wasn’t that I didn’t care from the get go but after facing such trial and misfortune; the news of mom’s cancer and the depression, anxiety and suppressed rage I was housing against myself; how I looked, how I operated, I was tearing at the seams, apathy was all that I could choke out.
Within me was a turmoil rollercoaster fast-approaching the depths of giving up. ONCE.AND.FOR.ALL.
The buck does not stop here.
Believe it or not, I did not end the semester on a bad note.
As mom received treatment and was nearing the end of her chemo term, my spirits were lifted. I realized that life was fragile and despite how much emphasis is put on grades and doing well, at the end of the day, everyone’s progress is measured on a different ruler in different units.
My progress, over the years, has been a better me outweighing anything I had ever done before. From pressures, both academic and sexual to failure, rejection, faithlessness, immeasurable sorrows and everything in between; I got through it all with purity of body, soul and heart. I achieved a rarity and, inter alia, I completed first year as a law major in the prestigious University of the West Indies; Cave Hill Campus.
I like him.
And I know I shouldn’t.
And I know I should feel awful about it.
But truth is
Friday, 17th May, 2013. The night of our final passionate embrace before leaving the Isle. The night I almost gave everything up to a “player” (in both the literal and metaphoric sense of the word).
In the early hours of the night, I had arrived at a club. The occasion simply to kick-off summer and bid a very enthusiastic ‘au revoir’ to examinations. He had informed me of this event which everyone on halls and extensively at UWI had decided on attending. I, on his request, sheepishly decided to tag along as well.
Upon arrival, the place was already flooded with students. I slummed for a few and hit up the bar for a couple of drinks. I had to find a way to let loose. All the other girls had already began to ‘wine and Kotch’ and ‘back it up’ and I was just staring blankly whilst doing the routine awkward two-step.
As I sipped on my Malibu, he made his way to my side. “I’ve come for my dance” he’d say with a gleam in his eye. I nodded and immediately we got right into it. I must admit, I may have been a little stiff at first but once the night got warm and steamy, we were dancing like nobody else was watching. Reality: everyone was.
We danced for the entire night until it was time for me to leave. However, he did not allow it to end there. He would not have it. Could not have it. He wanted to see me after the party ended. I maintained my nonchalance, knowing his intentions but agreeing regardless.
I reached home at about 4am and passed out as soon as I flung myself onto my bed. He called my phone a few minutes later and was at my door in the matter of seconds. I invited him in and he immediately took off his shirt and jumped on my bed (he was still in vest). I instinctively followed. We then proceeded to take to light conversation; his way of lightening the hot and heavy mood I suppose and to keep me in my comfort zone.
He invited my whole body on the bed and I awkwardly snuggled into him. We kissed roughly yet passionately. I got on top of him and he began to fondle. I started trembling uncontrollably and lay to his side. I was nervous. He asked if I was ok. He said that my trembling was worrying him and we lay there a while and just talked.
When I regained my composure we continued the heavy make out session. He was on top this time and the fondling started once more. He begged for more but I told him I wasn’t one to give. We went like this until 6 am and as I opened my door, he held me tight in his arms and kissed my lips once more. And left.
It was magic.
And I fell under his spell.
But I’ll never let him know that.
Because in the end, the athletes know how to play the sport,
And never allow themselves to lose.
“I am so blessed
My soul is at rest
Oh Lord, I give you thanks”
As I sat in the pews with the rest of the congregation, I felt a oneness with something that I knew was not of this world.
The weeks passed have been a fluctuation of emotions for me as pressure has always made me subside into the dark depths of depression and anxiety. However, upon receipt of an informative call from my mother, my head paved way for clarity and gratefulness to take precedence.
“This is my last chemo…” Was the beginning of the unfinished sentence which was then bombarded by my unrelenting questioning as my inquisitive nature would allow and thence my choked sobs of congratulations.
I had never had such pangs of sudden emotion in my life. Ever. I was joyful, and vibrant and thankful. So very thankful.
Just days before, I had suffered so much internally that when I eventually decided to go up to alter call for my church, I broke down into a snotty mess on my knees before The Lord, praying for everything to be okay. Desperately hoping that everything would be fine even though I was not.
My prayers, answered, my faith in God was redeemed once more but to a much heightened degree. So much so that whilst I sat amongst the crowded benches, I felt light. All my burdens had been lifted off my shoulders. And for that moment, I could operate as a normal human being, not being so construed and caught up in a world that my entire worth was based on these exams to the point where I sought the easy way out.
I was for that moment, spiritually elevated from the negative reoccurrent thoughts of failure, of worthlessness. I was for that moment ecstatic for life and for living and for mom’s life and for her living and my brother’s life and everyone’s well being.
I was truly grateful.
Earnestly, I attempt to study. The spell rushes through my train of thought whilst I utter the meaningless concepts of past consideration and sufficiency and economic value. Only 8 more days till this sentence of mandatory study is lifted.
Somehow while others are reassuring themselves that they’ll be home free once the 8 days are over, I am looking at the 4 years of bondage in store.
There is nothing to look forward to.
Is this really what I want?
When I close my eyes
At the intervals between my blinks
I can see your face.
I imagine you sweep in, in the blue of the unanticipated
Your hands trace the exterior of my being
I beg internally for reward
You look deep into the black of my eyes
Passion fuels the night
The stirs of…
the imaginative dreamer.
After suffering from the battalion of failed romance, I sought refuge in consultations with my underlings. Was this soldier the reason for the wars lost? It was thence explained to me, in motion picture, that the soldier was never the problem. She was dressed in sufficient attire; accentuated with physical attributes suited for capturing the enemy; endowed with the workings of wit and whim. They made it known to her that it was the weaponry; the strategy. In other words, she was physically ready to fight the war but lacked preparation and plot.
She had played the field entirely wrong; showing vulnerabilities, giving her opponents the upperhand. The naivety within her led her to the false belief that showing her weakness would not lead to the arbitrary abuse of the power but rather to a truce. Both territories would give up the idea of war and would unite as one unconquerable force.
As absurd as that sounds, those were her realities enshrined in her heart and executed in her actions.
I held the cards, I just did not know how to play them to my advantage until I found the secret to the workings of the game.
Challenge 1: Know your adversary. Analyse, note and listen. Draw inferences, deductively, from what he says. Acquire a basic knowledge of their likes, dislikes, family life, history; become well-versed in every aspect of their life. One thing to remember whilst doing this; give, sparingly, the details of yours.
Challenge 2: Gauge their game-playing strategy. Ensure that they are interested or will become interested in you. Abort the mission if your opponents are “expert players of the field” or are currently engaged in the game with another opponent.
Challenge 3: Be coy intermixed with a little bit of mystery. Flirt, tantalize, encourage their attention and affection but ensure that you are on leveled playing fields. In other words, keep pace with their dating style.
Challenge 4: Stay detached. Do NOT fall for their game too fast. You must always maintain the upper hand.
Challenge 5: Titillate their senses. Make fun a certainty when you’re around. When you do get to spend time with them guarantee fun, excitement, thrill and laughter as the ultimate arrangement.
Challenge 6: Surprise attack. Strike out the predictable. After all where’s the fun in that? Do something out of the norm, spice up things.
Lastly, and most importantly, put the ball in their court. Ask questions with answers that could determine where this game is going.
I’ve invested taking up every single one of these challenges. Although, I’m uncertain as to what will be the outcome of it all, I’m sure about one thing:
This is going to be fun.
Let the games….
I’m so confused.
I tell you the news.
That my application to return on halls was unsuccessful.
That I was rejected.
Impliedly, That this month could quite possibly be the last time we’d see each other again.
And I mean really SEE each other.
Those shared moments of intimacy that we once had every night; Non-existent.
Those unplanned crossing of parallels; gone.
Those random meetings that were planned by a few dashes across the keyboard by finger-tipped longings; doomed to peril. No longer would I be just a minute’s walk away.
And I don’t understand how you could reply so callously (“well, you’ll be missed”) as if not taking into consideration the gravity of the situation; the end that came way too soon.
And all that comes to mind with all of this being said is that you never even considered me as more than
How do you make a joke like that? Even if it is in jest?
Her hairstyle is not a choice.
Being bald was certainly never on her agenda. She did not wake up one day and think “I really want to try being bald today”. Cutting it all off was not a voluntary decision. It was one of necessity.
For years, I have heard her go on about growing her hair in an afro. “Just like Diana Ross’” she’d say. I remember when she was talking how she’d put so much emphasis in her hand movements and gestures as she’d show the desired height of the hairstyle. And joked about how she’d have to “swivel” her head just to get through doorways. But behind the laughter, I knew there was truth behind the humour.
I watched as she started from scratch. Cutting her hair down to an inch or two, to rid her hair of the chemicals and revert to the natural kinks of her birth. She wanted a fro. It was her mission and every month as her hair grew and both, my brother and I took notice and complimented, she’d get a spark in her eye. One that seemed like it was burning out just moments before.
I’m not even going to lie, at the very beginning of the phase, I had shown the least amount of interest for I thought her movement some thing distasteful. She, being a woman in power, having a fro was unprofessional and implied association to afrocentrism and the black power movement in the workings of the political sphere. The notion was almost ridiculous to me and could lead persons to believe she was a radical, an infidel, an anarchist.
But I too was swayed by her. I disliked what was associated to her updo but her resonating beauty showed each day. In the morning when she ran the pick through her hair. In the night when she took the effort to plait her hair. There was, at that time, always this effort that seemed to bring a lightened expression to her smile. She was finally getting the results she wanted.
And two years later, tragedy hits. I can only imagine the despair she suffered, the depression, when she held the tufts of hair in her hands as the treatment made them fall at the handfuls. The helplessness of the situation. The hopelessness on her face.
As we spoke on the phone, her voice cracked when she spoke of the day she went to the barber to cut off the remainder. And I could, for a second, hear the pain in her voice that she had always seemed to compose in all her years of motherhood.
Weeks passed before we finally did our weekend skype date and I knew she was reluctant due to the cut. And as we skyped, I could see the agony in her eyes as she talked about looking in the mirror and having a scare as to how drastically she changed over the matter of a day.
And I remember, at that instant, thinking I had to do everything in my power to ensure that she understood that she was still the gorgeous mother she always was. And I remember crying that night because I did not know what I should do or say to genuinely transfer these feelings. The frustration of it all made me forget that she was the one who had to wake up and look at this new person in the mirror for the rest of her life, never truly getting used to it.
Being bald was never a willed option for her.
And for the path that she had to take, and for the strength that she had to display, in such a short amount of time, I’d say that her beauty outshines all creatures in rerum natura. It far outweighs any who dares make mockery of the sick. That is a surety.
As I am now,
I am a shell of a person
With tears in my eyes
Afraid that someone will see the light
I am not happy,
But I long to be
Even if it is just that moment we meet in the night.
Let me tell you the tale of three romances that was in similar coexistence for the period of a year:
1. The guy who saw the depression beneath my external expression. He would look me in the eyes and with transfixed declaration state that I was unhappy, troubled.
Ultimately, it made me glad that someone could see beyond what lay on the surface but that’s all he did. He read and inquired and walked into my heart and then when all was read, and there was no more I could offer, he left without a word’s notice.
2. The guy who took my surfaced expression, neglecting to look deep into my eyes to acquire the Whereabouts of my soul’s emotion.
He made me forget my troubles when we talked about the superficial things in life but as we sat together talking once more about these things, scratching the surface of realities, he began “I like that you’re always smiling” and at that moment, I knew that we were just deceiving each other.
For the day when I revealed my pain would only come too soon in that relationship and the reaction might be one of unprepared fright.
3. Finally, There is this guy, the “old”. He knows me. He can see when something is wrong despite my smile. And can see the hurt in my eyes.
but he works to make me whole again. When we talk, and even in silence, there is this air that makes everything just seem to have reason. That makes me have reason.
It slowly brings the redness to my cheeks, the toothy smile to my expression and the hearty laugh to my everyday.
He makes me infinite.
I am an emotional creature. I have those flecked moments of instability and imbalance ranging from a period of reflection to that of complete over-analysis and irrationality.
This is not one of those moments.
My rationale has been induced by months of observance and slow-burn judgment since I have been accused many a time for acting too quickly.
Even so, I cast aside my suspicions and left it for time to unravel the truth. However, the more I try to circumnavigate the issue, the more it exasperates me.
After all, it is a perplexing thought how pretentious people can be. How they use and then dispose. Toy and toy with you until eventually you’re so broken, there’s no way to fix you anymore.
You embark down the path of distrust, of hatred towards the human race and most of all towards yourself. Incapable of love. Incapable of emotions. And then you are labelled “unfriendly, “stand-offish”, “mean”, “selfish” when all you were ever greeted with in life was a fake smile coupled with rehearsed laughter. Then the mistaken belief that they cared becomes ripped at the seams through realization. Your eyes, with age and experience, can now detect every lie, every act of deceit but with it the skepticism floods; taking every gesture and act of kindness with a pinch of salt.
Eventually, it hurts. The routine leaves a festering wound on your rapidly-blackening heart. Everyday, you wake up, greeted with the friendly faces of your BBM contacts, your facebook friends, people in face-to-face contact and you sort. And it’s an everpresent-sorting. You sift through the deciding moments, the hardships and then the luxuries, and who was there for the former were true.
But then you sift again and again and you process and process until, before you know it, all your friends have been extracted one by one.
And I don’t want to become that person because I believe in love and naivety bears its head every once in a while and overlooks the obvious. It gives chances and opportunities.
But it’s wearing thin. My patience is wearing me thin. And the constant pretenses, aimed at my heart, are boring holes in it. One day, I”m afraid it will be so punctured, so wounded, that it will be like a deflated balloon. There. But useless.
Notwithstanding, the unfortunate circumstance of countless betrayal suffered at the hands of many a fake friend; I have learned to love again and it brings hope for reassurance in the good of the human race. In that even though I am confronted by those sinister bared teeth and pitchy shrills of laughs, I will stand strong and laugh with the same sincerity that I had since childhood or not laugh at all.
Truthfully, I’d rather be honest because authenticity is far more appealing than branded products of conformist society. A society where everyone learns that the faker the person, the more appealing she/he is.
Fake tan, fake boobs, fake muscles, fake hair, fake lips, fake smiles, fake personality. Fake life.
I live for the real thing.