Saturday, May 29, 2004

reading through nappi and anitra's post regarding gay marriages esp. in contex of people of colour, i could not help but think of the issue of identity and self determination. one of the opposing views to femisim in the third world countries has always been in regards to priority to other forms of discrimination. why talk about who lays down with whom, when scores of people go hungrey. yet, again who is to say one form of suffering overrides another? Keith Boykin's article is one of contemplative nature.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

being the first of many

i bear the distinction of being the bearer of many firsts in my family: the first to drop out of college, begin hanging out with no good men in the name of creating art, only to be coerced back into school, kicking and screaming. the first to insist on being bald headed, over and over again, when there are perfectly skilled hair stylists and rwandese hair braiders around. the first in my knowledge of speaking of feminism & insisting on love ethic. the first to get into a plane, move thousands upon thousands of miles, separated by an ocean, with no game plan whatsoever, except the silent mantra, 'i have to go.'

so now, here i am, almost thirty, with an education that i do not use, immersed in the boxing ring, tango dancing with the strains of fluoxetine seeping through the blood stream & realising something is really wrong with this picture.

besides my aunt, my mothers' sister, i am the second girl/woman to have a degree. holding the certificate in my hand was an accolade of achievement and recognition not only from my mother and her sisters, but for all women, who continue to live lifes of fear and the baptism of silence.

each day i give thanks for this. i recognise, i could not do this alone.

& yet, there is this nagging, persistant, unequivocable feeling that this isn't quite IT. Women now have choices, more choices I feel then lets say my mother, or her mother. I can live anywhere, do anything my heart desires and become anybody I want.

So why do i feel this discrepancy of what should be like and what really is. It is frightening to realize how unsafe it is to be a woman living the in the states or anywhere else for that matter. No one has the audacity to insist on what a woman does with her body, not when healthcare, education, economic empowerment, financial resources are limited to a select few.

i don't want to complain about this restlessness and depression of realising its all a fucking illusion, to a larger degree. especially, not when girls like kakenya ntaiya, whose lifes when compared to mine are purgatory. where would i even begin to say, something is not quite right with this picture.



During the month of April, the heavens open and drain tears into the gully of dry bones and parched throats. Under the conjuring wand of the invisible magician, the paths that until recently lay bare, come alive with the brightest and most alive of African Violets and dandelions carpeting the garden of Eden and leading to the stairways of heaven. Before our joys are turned into wails of drowning souls, homeless cats and dogs, we let ourselves dream of the time of plenty, of contentment and lovers returning home.

He likes to visit on weekends when it’s raining. He says it’s the most romantic and humane of times: the steady pata-pata-pata of rain drops on the mabati roof, the sloshing footprints made haphazardly on the paths leading to the hearths, the crazed, wrinkled, wet look worn on the faces and bodies of the evening commuters. To him, it’s the time of renewal. Where the old, cankerous self is shed off and a new, shiny coat of youth is donned onto the shoulders of those willing to step out into the newness.

There is a sea of preparation before he arrives. Kamau, the live-in houseboy, prepares the meal he likes: ugali, skumawiki and nyama choma with kachumbari on the side. He likes it when he visits; it gives him the opportunity to sneak out into the cover of darkness and into the welcoming warm folds of Wangari, the sheeben queen.

I spend most of these weekend mornings among the women at salon magnifique. We great each other with the familiarity of well worn pair of shoes: comfortable, reassuring and stable. The amours that we don are left outside the door and it’s at this place, our home away from home, away from the maddening demands of children and lascivious eyes of our husbands, boyfriends and idle men that we become ourselves: butterflies on daisy fields.

In the evenings, as the house is caressed and warmed with sautéed garlic and smoldering passion, I prepare for the arrival of my beloved. There is the mandatory bath of milk, lavender leaves, salts from Lake Magadi and garnished by rose petals from the rose bushes. He likes it when I use these ingredients. I smell of freshness, he says. It reminds him of a time of youthful exuberance, wearing tattered clothes, barely covering his back and running amok with his boyhood friends under the backdrop of the picturesque, snowcapped Mt. Kenya. It causes me to smile every time he says this. His happiness, I feel, is mine.

Transversing through the corners of my skin, I reach to each crevice, hook and fold and peel away all shyness. I bare my body to the caress of rose petal and almond oil. My skin glitters at the slight touch. I quiver; My April is soon to arrive. Afterwards, while my body is still tingling with the luster of touch, I choose the items to wear. Usually, I chose apparel of natural tones; this softens and accentuates my ranging hues. I wear no makeup. I come to him as bare as a new born child, willing and invited.

Abdullah Ibrahim’s piano concert, “ Cape Town Revisited” , breaks the craka-craka-craka monotone of the crickets that compete with the soft drone of the fire flies which cast a transparent veneer over the street lights. The off-beat tempo and beat flights my spirit to the caverns of youthful arrogance.

I land to a time where the enchantment of the eyes, the tightness of the skin, and the swiftness of the body was a one way ticket to the festivals of youthful exuberance. Who would have thought it would turn out this way; yet, it’s never advisable to mourn for that which we cannot have. Why miss the water when the well has always run dry?

Ten minutes before eight, I light the candles, set the table and sit opposite the wall clock with the black and white surface. I take a deep breath and wait. He is coming home.