It is Sunday. The only day of the week that I can be myself. My name is Salummy and my close friends call me crazy. Those that know me on a professional level think that I am the most intelligent girl they have ever seen, if only they knew how wild I can get to be.
So today, I woke up at 5:30 a.m., fulfilled my prayers, exercised and reviewed Upile Chisala’s book, Nectar. A poetry and prose book that connects you to another world, a book that softens even the hardest of hearts and then suddenly, a thought came to my mind.
How much love do you give yourself?
Human beings have the capability of loving and hating themselves at the same time. You are one time on top of a cliff and the next second, you are planting gardens of satisfaction in your heart. You never know where you stand and you have to sometimes get justification of how you look or how you taste from other people. You were born so perfect but the world kept telling you otherwise and you believed, you believed every single word.
You have fallen in love and you allow them to hurt you, you allow them to stay and keep feeding you poison, you plead them to stay. If this isn’t abuse, what is? Nothing should ever come before your sweet soul, nothing, however good it smells. The things or the people that hurt you or diminish you or make you feel small, these are the things you have to learn to let go. You cannot continue nursing wounds that do not belong to you in the name of love. Love is that thing that stays, love is that thing that makes life feel good, and love is lavender on a day that everything looks so different.
You are in the habit of asking for their opinion about you. Allowing them to tame you and giving them the chance to stumble upon your territory. You are in the habit of making yourself so small so that you fit in their love. You listen to them as they whisper about your crooked nose and your hazel-shaped eyes and your hairy hair that listens attentively to every scorn that they pour from their mouth hoping that you will come to their defense.
You are also in the habit of punishing yourself for mistakes of the past. You keep revisiting your casualties and bite your tongue for things that you cannot undo. The past is not home and your life is not a cemetery. Let go of the past, nothing held on to you, nothing was you, you are who you are today and you have become more beautiful because of the beauty that your hardships brought with. Do not afford to apologize for your past, embrace the future and move on.
A note to my sisters:
You are more miserable because you do not have hair as good as Melissa Denise. You are feeling miserable because you are too dark and your legs are so hairy and your face filled with marks. You are so miserable because they say you have to put relaxers to look good and skin whiteners to look like Beyonce. But Beyonce doesn’t even look like Beyonce, the girl on the magazine doesn’t even look like the girl on the magazine when she wakes up each morning. You are told by the media that your beauty is defined when you are as skinny as that dismal flame that burns and beams, a moving lamp, where the dreary fogs of night do encamp. You are out here hearing words about you from companies that are earning billions and trillions by just telling you that you are ugly until you use shea butter on your skin. Who are these people that are out here telling you how to look when you were born to be unique; you were born to be who you are?
And now my sisters, you do not even look like you anymore. You look like the things that you apply; you look so temporary wearing hair that is not yours and a skin that doesn’t breathe flowers. And when you get married; they remind you that you are not beautiful. You have to look a particular way, add layers and layers of powder to your face so that no one can really recognize you; telling you that your man will love you that way. Is he marrying the layered powder or marrying your beautiful soul?
A note to all Africans:
We have a tendency of adapting to things that do not look like us. Our weddings do not even have a touch of culture anymore, and the things that we do and the things that we were. I want to imagine a scenario where we would all be holding on to our culture, the way the Maasai do and that is why tourists would come all the way to see and appreciate them for who they are.
We have a tendency of loving others more than ourselves. Taking in their way of life. Taking in their views and perspectives until we do not even know who we really are anymore. We even end up ignoring the fact that we are Africans and call ourselves other names, disappointing mother Africa every other time.
We should be unapologetic for the skin that we have, the hair that we have, the culture that our ancestors worked hard for, the dialects that bring us together, we should be unapologetic to everything that defines our home. Being ashamed is not proper when we are from the roots of a mother so gentle, that her seasons don’t hurt and her greenery miraculous and her seas and oceans, the one way of falling in love. We come from a mother whose sunset is more like breathing in fresh air and I do not know why some people would be flabbergasted when they hear me speaking in a language that is not English. We come from a woman who is all the languages of the universe, how can we forget our identity and call ourselves names that are not deserving of us?