Open for Business

There was once a time when someone literally walked away with all of my stuff. Actually, if I remember correctly, it was a few someones. They walked right up to my bright-eyed and bushy-haired self and took all of the “stuff” that pleased them, snatched it right out of my little open palm. Or maybe I should just tell it as it happened. My 6 year-old self actually sat back and watched my playground “friends” as they walked up to me and took any snacks they found appealing from my lunchbox that had been packed with much love and meticulous ordering. Those someones literally walked off with all of my stuff.

If I had known what foreshadowing was at the time, I would have recognized that life itself is prose and that I was setting myself up to be the strangely self-deprecating protagonist whom no-one could quite understand even after hundreds of pages of close reading and one lukewarm literary review after another. Shy or arrogant? Vain or self-loving? Intelligent or incredibly good at faking it? Intriguing or just too different to fit in? Honestly, this character isn’t well written at all. She just doesn’t make any sense. How is the reader expected to believe that someone with such attributes is so ready to surrender, to give away all her stuff practically for free…

Someone once walked off with all of my things. Literally. Those someones have probably forgotten they ever did. Those someones may be reading this now. To be frank, I can’t say I clearly remember who they were. This self-deprecating protagonist is still trying to yank herself out of that space, where it’s totally acceptable for others to bargain- aunty please your thing is not even that nice ooh please in fact I saw a nicer one at the last shop so unless you reduce- to loot and plunder all of my stuff.

***

Dear reader,

Congratulations! You have just been let in on the biggest secret since 1992. Unless of course, you are one of those lucky someones who has previously been given or who still enjoys full access to all of my stuff. If you fall into either of those categories you have always known-

that the mask runs deeper than face powder- oh my I think what you need is the no.110, extra dark cocoa for that skin tone- deeper than trends that haven’t yet been dreamt of on this side of the Atlantic- where do your clothes come from oh my gosh too cute- deeper than dry humor and incessant sarcasm- wait do you really mean that- deeper than ambiguous accents and oddly alluring deep voices for girls- and everything sounds so much smarter and sexier when you say it, wow you’re so not like those other-

This isn’t a self-conscious attempt to persuade you that I’m honestly just as human as you and probably a lot more insecure…

she bats her sparse eyelashes feverishly in at attempt to appear endearing and genuine

This is just to let you know, that this writer is very much accustomed to putting all of her stuff out there to be bargained over, and looted, and grabbed, and tried on for size, and discarded out of spite-

you have to cut people down to size- but do you really think she said that- yes I mean look at her- wait-

Look at what? Look at your pockets bulging with all of my stuff. In fact, kind reader, please be aware that after reading this, you would have successfully walked away with all of my stuff. Again I say congratulations. Félicitations. Well done oooh. E wo do nyuwe.

Handle with care. Or don’t, as you so choose. In any case, the prices of my wares have increased; next time you will actually have to buy.

P.S. Please overlook my poor attempt at writing out a mother tongue I am fighting very hard not to forget. That was purely based on phonetics. You know who you are!

Inspired by “somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff” in  for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange, and by Loretta Devine as Juanita in the movie adaptation.

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