When I was younger, I suffered at the hands of bullies. They were pretty merciless and surprisingly coordinated in their verbal and sometimes physical assaults on me. They’d swoop in like Special Ops all dressed in their bottle green gingham school dresses and jumpers – miniature soldiers.
They asked me questions about my hair: “why is it so curly and wet? What’s that stuff on it? Spit? Hahaha spit head!” (explaining a Jheri curl to a group of jeering seven year olds is like trying to explain common sense to the Far Right.
They asked me questions about my skin: “why are you brown? Are you made of poo?”
They asked me questions about my heritage: “Africa!!! Did you ride around on tigers and have food brought to you by Oxfam?”
They asked me about my family (“Are you poor?”) and my food (“haha, why are you eating rice for lunch? Crazy!”) and my name (“What kind of name is that?”) and when they ran out of the usual fodder, they just made fun of my lips and my nose, how quiet I was, why I seemed to prefer to read a book than pelt about the playground chasing Neil, the flame-haired Adonis a few years above us, and anything else about me that was slightly different.
Being a child and not being able to fully grasp why exactly I was a target, I found myself in tears on numerous occasions, clutching at the skirts of my Mum and, once home, pleading with her to explain to me just why my hair was wet, why my skin was brown, why Dad couldn’t be here right now (he had to work on the mainland for a few months until he got a contract on the island where we lived) and what kind of name was mine?
My Mum sat me down and wrapped her arms around me and she taught me one of my most valuable life lessons: that people, all people are made up of different parts; that some people may have brown skin and dark eyes and others may have blonde hair and blue eyes; that some people had names like Jane and Alex and Chloe while others had names like Ayo and Nkechi and Ezeh. She explained that some people were made up of good things like joy and kindness and friendship while others had darker parts to them. And you, darling she said, might not be able to choose what parts make up your outside, but you have the chance to make sure that your inside is made up of all the good things. One cup love, two cups happiness, three, courage. It’s up to you.”
I love her for that.
Today, I’m made of stronger stuff than I was when I was seven. I’ve made sure of that and I’ve added a few things.
To make this particular breed of badass, you will need the following:
Mix these ingredients together adding liberal amounts of affection and kindness. You may see a penchant for books and shoes developing as you stir but trust, this is completely normal and even adds to the general brilliance.
Ensure you transport your badass mixture to different countries and varying cities, immersing it in a variety of cultures and class systems. Keep close to your heart for a quarter of a century and some change and once done, sprinkle with awesome and dust with giant hair.
Your result should be a muddled but sweet badass with a heart of gold and a tongue of fire.
Repeat as necessary.
All these years down the line, I still remember Mum’s words and have clung to them like a lifeline during the times when life batters against me like a brutal hailstorm. I remember through my anger and pain that I have the option to be forgiving and to be benevolent and to offer grins instead of frowns; to be the badass with the gooey centre that my parents always wanted me to be.
Leave a comment
Stereo. 20-something aspiring bon vivant. London based. Exceptionally Nigerian. Partial to snark. My default setting is "wry". Jeans and blazers are my uniform. Landlady. Speed reader, tuneless singer, hoarder of words, drinker of Schloer; I am suspicious of most people, have zero tolerance for tomfoolery, have a vast DVD collection, worship at the altar of Al Green, own too many bottles of nail polish, have small eyes, small ears and giant hair and owe approximately 86% of my awesome to the Parents Typewriter.
Want to know more?
- +2013 (24)
- +2012 (52)
- +2011 (98)
- +2010 (62)