She is running away from her pursuer. Crying but still running away from her grandma who is on her heels behind her. The grandma seems very mad at this girl. Dressed in those child clothes that are usually buttoned in between the legs and has a small afro on the head, she looks better than most village children. And there goes my earliest childhood memory. I must have been an year to three years old. I found it in my head when I matured. Why on earth my grandma was running after me, I don’t know. The memory only lasts a few seconds.
When I was young my mother left me with my grandma. Young here means two months old. She went to college. All I know of my life below 5yrs, I have been told by people except the above story. My mother conceived me when she was 19 or there about. With a police officer who got married to another woman weeks after I was born. This turn of events has been used severally by my mother when arguing with my father to make me realize how much the man didn’t want me. Rumour goes that the said woman was barren so my father came looking for me in a bid to steal/”adopt” me into his childless family. Again, my mother has used this too severally to show me how my dad is not one of the best men out there. But I do sort of recall addressing my mother by her name when she used to visit us at home. Reliable sources say I was the most beautifully dressed girl of that village. An aunt who loved pictures ensured we got several with me always having flowers in my hair. I remember visiting my mother in Mombasa where she was in college. The most famous story in her family is that, we boarded the ferry, and while inside the captain started telling people to close the doors since we are leaving or something of the sort. In Sunday school, I had been taught that only God lives above the earth, and to make matters worse I only used to speak and hear Kamba. So I turned to my mother and went like ” Usu ni Ngai ekwea twana twikilye na twikale nthe?”( Is that God telling children to keep quiet and sit down?).
I think my parents hooked up in coast. They rarely talk about those days. But at least she must have known about contraception or safe days in those days. For she didn’t get another out of wedlock child.
Growing up, my father’s genes took dominance in me. For my age, I have always been short and chubby. And light skinned. My mum is middle-heighted (I just made that word up). And dark skinned or dark chocolate. And slim. Or always has been. When I was young, in this case nursery to class two, that didn’t bother me. In class three I was taken to a boarding school in Kinangop. And any time my mother came for visitings or we even got on a matatu, or just any random event, people never believed she is my mother. Always thought she was my sister.
And any time someone said that it reminded me that I was a child out of wedlock. For some reason that did not bother me as a child. But I do remember thinking about it a lot. Especially between the age of nine and ten. But I had no bitter feelings towards myself or my parents or the world giving children like me names. I guess it was helped by the fact that my parents were/are together.
What bothered me, especially in high school, was that my mum was prettier than me or didn’t look like she was my mother. Its easier when your sibling catches peoples’ attention more than you but not your mother. On academic days, all teachers would obviously point that out. Including my math teacher who was full of really dry jokes. Except my English teacher. I remember the first time I shined in English in high school was when we did an essay. And I got almost all the marks. She didn’t care that my mother looked like not my mother, she simply congratulated me and told me to keep up. I hold nothing against my mother for that. We don’t choose not to look like our children’s parents.
Speaking of looks. I have always found it unsettling that I care less of how I look. As in I don’t think highly of myself. Neither lowly of myself. I simply don’t think of how I look. Except of late. But this story is of then not now. I started growing really fat in class seven. A classmate used to jokingly report to the principal any time she saw me jumping or running. Like it was a miracle. They would laugh about it. I laughed too, remember I had invented the smile by then. But deep inside I didn’t like those jokes making fun of my body.
As you have already imagined, in high school I grew fatter. As I said, looks never bothered or interested me. I first knew I had pimples on my face when a form four student, looking shocked,asked me what had happened to my face. My pimples bothered everyone except me. My mum and aunt tried all sort of remedies. They were many and huge and ugly. My aunt, suggested I stop taking blue band, that helped as they reduced in size. Its the reason I don’t take blue band except once in a blue moon when I visit someone. My fatness did not even bother me as you would expect. I could grade others into beautiful or not pretty, but never myself.
The first time I felt truly beautiful was when I shaved my hair completely for the first time. I couldn’t get enough of how beautiful and African I felt and looked. And that was less than five months ago. For the first time I conceptualized beauty with myself in the equation. Men had always told me I’m beautiful, but as I have always said, even if the world took a public address system and shouted in your ears that you are ugly, if you don’t believe it, then you are not ugly.
I didn’t know how to caption this by the way

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