Monday, January 14, 2008

Mame Bana

By the time my aunt intervened and moved us out of the house, I had blossomed into a hunchback nursing, awkward pre-teen on her way to Dakar’s own 90210 High School. My height and bony figure made me standout like a sore thumb amongst my friends and other 7th graders. Years of fighting off bullies, after school to get my name back from giraffe and skeletor had all but drained my self-esteem and while all of my suddenly curvy friends were pmsing and having secret crushes, I was left deeply insecure and uncomfortable in my own skin. I became angry, even callous towards those around me; so much so that my grandmother nicknamed me Gaïnde, the lion because it didn’t take much effort to upset me. I spent my days beating up my sister, my cousin and roaring at anyone who dared defy me.
Although I didn’t understand a word they were singing, I would lock myself in the room the three of us shared, listen to Boyz II Men’s Evolution CD and cry my eyes out. I needed my mother and I wanted my father to give a fuck about me; I hated, I hate him for abandoning me, for relegating his fatherly duties to someone else.
I envied what all my friends seemed to have. I wanted to be pretty, to be wanted and loved like they were. I wanted their parents to be my parents. I wanted love. I was surrounded by people; but I was lonely. I felt so unwanted, so ugly. No one, not even I understood what I was going through. I was in so much pain. Pain I couldn’t describe or pinpoint its’ source. Not even my grandmother’s unconditional love and patience could appease me. Looking back, I can honestly say that she saved me from myself.
Like my mother, my grandmother was a spunky, petite woman. The 3rd out of 4 girls, her family migrated from a neighboring country when she was very little. Although her father forbade her and her sisters from ever going to school, she was smart enough to realize the value of an education and the importance of a degree in a woman’s hands. That is the only thing no one will ever take away from you djaja, she used to tell me; and I believe her. She can’t read nor can she write, yet she taught herself French, raised 8 children; and 3 grand-daughters on her own. She made sure that regardless of gender, we all went to school and had access to the same opportunities as others. She insisted on good grades and wouldn’t accept anything but from me.
I have many flaws; but all of my qualities as a woman, any good deed I perform, any success I ever achieve in life comes from my Mame Bana.

7 comments:

GRANDPLACE said...

Fortunately, your grandmother was there! You really didn't realise how usefull she was.

Sayuri Jane said...

I haven't seen her in almost 8 years and now i realize how lucky i was to have her there when i was growing up.

GRANDPLACE said...

"Not even my grandmother’s unconditional love and patience could appease me".= That means Mame Bana was doing her best to prevent you from being sad! hopless! helpless!... She also suffered a lot (i imagine) for not being able to make you feel happy!

Treehouse Dwellers said...

you write with such depth about something so personal and difficult. I admire your guts - the guts you had as a child, and the guts you have as an adult. You can be a real role model for others going to really tough times.
Thanks for having the guts to share this.

Sayuri Jane said...

Tx Treehouse for the comment. i truly hope that if others who went through the same things i did read my blog, they realize that they can get through the pain, that they can speak up because it does heal.

Sahasi said...

Candid and honest writing. I liked it. I am going to give a link to your blog on mine.... if you are ok with it.

Sayuri Jane said...

Thank you so much; that would be an honor.