Stand Your Ground

Cameroonian Girl

Stand your ground. There’s no man born who can take you out unless you allow it. And you’ve been taught to allow so much, anything else feels wrong.

Stand your ground.

You’re not crazy. You’re not asking too much. You’re not being unreasonable. You’re not being selfish. You’re not arrogant or full of pride. You don’t even think as high enough of your self as they accuse you of. Think higher.

Stand your ground.

Even if it means you’ll stand alone. Even when it hurts and you want to die . When it feels wrong, when it feels right. When it feels good, when it hurts. When you win and when you lose (and yes you will).

Stand your ground.

You’re not weak. You’re not defective.  You’re only human. You’re not perfect. You’re a seed which grew where it fell from the Universe’s hand. Fate will storm on you. You will break and be broken.  Branches, leaves and fruit will be lost. And the waters will wash these pieces downstream.

Stand your ground.

When that’s over, when that rain stops as rains is known to do, stand up. You’re stronger than you realize and you carry the DNA of women who’ve carried the world on their shoulders. Trust the soil you were planted in. Reach deeper. You grew there didn’t you?

Stand your ground.

You will win. Or your daughters will.

But you have to stand your ground.

Things they left behind

A fondness for Future

A better relationship with  beer

Interest in middle eastern art

Tape deck for the car

Otterbox for the phone

An enduring love for Led Zeppelin

Mostaccioli, beef stroganoff

Umberto Eco

Coldplay  (I know. IDGAF IDGAF )

A deep appreciation for great cunnilingus

Great book recommendations

A love for chocolate  with tea

An out of control love for cinnamon rolls

More interest in comics than I care to admit to

Coronas in margaritas

A better understanding of self

A weed addiction

Courage

The beauty that is sleeping pills

Clothes I pilfered

That one pajama bottom

ACDC jokes

A bad ass LinkedIn Profile

Kitty cats!

Red velvet cake

Tolkien

They leave so much behind, don’t they?

 

 

Learning to live with scars

The thing I learned early about scars is that some never fade.

I’m one of those people with scar prone skin. I also have sensitive skin and a tendency to not leave things well alone, so my whole body is covered in scars. I’m not even kidding. If you counted every single blemish, they’d likely number in the hundreds.

If I was waxing poetic I would say they are a road map to my life, each spot a monument to some time when the figurative hard knocks of life crossed into the realm of the literal, leaving a reminder that shit will happen and there’s not a fucking thing I can do about it.

But really they’re just scars. Black, brown or white and shiny blemishes on my skin which remind me of every mosquito bite, every fall, every beating, every  iron burn, knife cut, boarding school trunk  accident, hot water spill, scratch, surgery, bite, fight, adult acne break out, skin infection  that I have ever had, with the promise of more to come, a morbid documentation of my fragility. After all anyone of those wounds could have been fatal.

I did, after all, grow up in Cameroon.

And they never fade.

They never fade.

I’ve tried it all. Creams, pomades, treatments, vitamins, scrubs. Serums, oils, peels, washes. The appearance of some diminished somewhat but I can still see the line formed by the hot coals that fell on my lap from the iron. I should have known better than try to iron my birthday dress myself. My mother made me wear a horrendous track suit to school. The one day I got to not wear the school uniform, I wore a track suit. I was crushed. I was 5 years old.

I remember the taunts. Form 2 and 3 in Saker were hard times.

“Nice legs…”

The gasps.

The girls  at the tailoring shop. The one who couldn’t contain her dismay.

“Mamamiye, na weti chop me this pikin e foot them so?”

Blurted out in that genuinely harmless but still tactless way us Cameroonians have about us.

The guy friend who apologized to me after loudly complimenting some random girl’s legs.

Bless your heart.

 

I’ve learned to live with them. Make peace with them as best as I can. I don’t find always beauty in them although some days I trace the lines and jagged edges and chuckle, wishing I had that minimum of fucks to give that would let me just forget they’re there or do something radical like turn them into tattoos, a random pattern unique to me. I’m still self conscious about them. I still wince when I wear a mini skirt (but I will wear the hell out of that mini skirt). I still wish I had smooth blemish free skin. I still wonder what my partners think. I still linger in skin care sections longer than I need to and  will read up on the latest skin care fads.

And I tell myself it’s ok. I’ve made it this far with them. And the show must go on, I guess.

 

Glass Beads

Glass beads around her waist

Rhythmic rattles

Whisper soft

Beat soft

Skin soft

Skin bare

Skin brown

Back arched

Head back

Eyes shut

Thighs wide

Booty primed

Bass lines

Strong as a beating heart

Stronger than a beating heart

Rhythmic rattles

Whisper soft

Beat soft

Glass beads around her waist

Bush Faller Lament

It’s not supposed to be like this, is it?
“Bush” is supposed to be safe.
“Bush” is supposed to be comfortable.
Predictable even.
You clean enough shit and “put your head for book,”
Play your cards right and don’t be too much of a crook,
And one day, you too can be a bushfaller,
With a fast car and money to blow in Limbe at Christmas.

It’s not supposed to be like this.
Your mother couldn’t have warned you about the quiet white boy who kept to himself.
Or the police officer who thinks you inferior to himself.
Or the Pakistani boy who’s not been himself, since the day he held his fathers lifeless hand and cursed the people who would kill a poor farmer and not the pashas.

It’s not supposed to be like this, is it?
The rising tide of fear.
The question niggling the back of your brain.
The one you push down, as you try to assure yourself it will all be alright.
That you and yours are too small, to be of any consequence in this fight.

It’s not supposed to be like this.
And yet here we are.
Crying more than the bereaved.
And what do we really mourn?
The lives lost?
Or the death of the illusion of safety we’d allowed ourselves to buy into?

When You Say “Akata”

When you say “Akata”
Remember
You are speaking of a brother
A sister, a child
Mother, father
Kidnapped from home
Raised on far off shores
Chained and beaten
Until hope became a faint glimmer
Until home became a weak whisper
Until humanity tasted bitter.

When you say “Akata”
Remember
You are not speaking of yourself
Because you had Africa’s forests
Her mountains, deserts and hills
Her rivers and other waters
To hide in when snow fell in the tropics
You had ancestral breasts to suckle on
Food for that long winter
And grand parents who remembered to teach you
The language of your people.

When you say “Akata”
Remember
That the white man used porters
Your own uncles
Willing servants, joyful warders
Who helped them draw the borders
That split your fathers compound into two countries
And made your cousin a stranger
And started the wars that have left you an orphan
And started the quarrels that have driven you from home
To the place where the “Akatas”
Have labored and fought
So you have a place to come to
After your father’s house burned to the ground.

When you say “Akata”
Remember.