Thursday, February 14, 2008

Growing Pain

Oumy and my mother were neighbors and classmates and since they grew up together and probably shared a lot of time with each other, they quickly became best friends. My mother was reserved and very shy while Oumy was everything but and for some unexplainable reason, the friendship between such different people wistood the test of time and distance. My aunt-by-friendship had no children. She never married and as such, couldn’t move out of the familial home, not that it would have been against any laws, but in the Patriarchal Senegalese society, single women living alone or together is very unacceptable and even offensive to some.
Oumy was a little over 30 years old when her oldest sister’s marriage became her jackpot; she finally received her ticket to partial freedom by moving in with her.
So, on what I imagine to be a sunny day, Oumy, her three nieces and newlywed sister moved into a two bedroom apartment in an up-and-coming neighborhood. As you can imagine there was little space to spare. But this didn’t stop her from convincing my poor mother, a few years later, that sending me to live with her would turn me into a well behaved lady. She promised to watch over me and teach me manners. In reality, she had secret, ulterior motives: Oumy desperately wanted to fulfill her dream of a family and children of her own. I was the closest thing she had.
As usual, with every new relationship, I was welcomed with open arms and even treated like a family member. I ate to my heart’s content, slept next to her at night and even got along great with the three little nieces. It felt like home. Since Oumy’s sister was the second wife of a prominent man, she was expected to bear him children, like his first wife, before her had done. But for some reason, she wasn’t able to and somehow, this made her less than a woman. By the second week of my being there, as the newness wore off, I was quickly demoted to third class mooch. My loving aunt-by-friendship suddenly transformed into an evil, gossip fiend stepmother. She divided to conquer and looking back, I was nothing more than a chess piece. Since her highness couldn’t bear to share her queen size bed, because doing so kept her from a good night’s rest, I was presented with a blanket, 3 square, red ottoman pads and the cold, tiled dining room floor: This was my new bed.
The resident couple’s relationship was rocky at best and since our salvation and housing rested in their hands, we silently lived on edge, in fear. We anxiously laid in wait for the inevitable day the tension would burst in our faces. In the meantime, we quietly lived together and hated each other.
Although my parents sent a monthly stipend for my wellbeing and care, it became obvious that once again, the money was being put to various, other uses but the one intended. As the marital problems arose, the cable was cut off; then food became scare around the house. I still remember the hunger skipping meals brought on me; the kind that painfully pulls at your heartstrings, slowly churn your stomach in tight knots and leaves you dazed and brain dead.
Alas, no matter how much water I drank, it always failed to quench my hunger; my empty stomach still growled. I laid awake most nights as the icy floor caressed my scrawny legs and the ottoman pads ran away from my frail body.
I cried myself, my anger to sleep. I questioned God’s existence, His love because as much as I called out to Him, as much as I wanted Him to be there with me and give me back my parents, He always answered me with His silence.

14 comments:

Manictastic said...

You've experienced so much in your young life. It's amazing how you can talk about this so freely. Is it therapeutic for you in a way?

GRANDPLACE said...

Very painfull, to say the least!

Sayuri Jane said...

@Manictastic:
It's very hard for me to write about my childhood but i do it, to get over the hurt and move on. writing is my therapy.

@grandplace: It was. but now i realize that i was being prepped for my life today.

Terrible Pollo said...

Es muy intenso todo lo que has pasado, pero espero que todo lo vivido te sirva para cumplir tus sueños...
My best wishes, and good luck!!

Sayuri Jane said...

@terrible pollo:
Mucho Gracias for your kind words and encouragement. my life experiences give me strength, they even helped shape me.

on the journey said...

very interesting to read. i think i'll stick around and see where it goes. i saw you on myspace in the blogger group promoting your blog. i'm 'simply scott'; you can find my blog posts there, too, or just search for the name.

adrienne said...

You are the most incredible person I have meet since I started on the blogging trial. Your post tells me your inner strength is like a strong tower.

Thank you for sharing and allowing me to read it.

Sayuri Jane said...

@ Journey:
Please do stay. I tried to add you on myspace but wasn't able to.

@ Adrienne:
Thank you for reading, I hope you got something from my experiences. No matter what we go through in life, we can still overcome it.

Anonymous said...

nice blog
-umesh

Seeker said...

Your words drew me in... I have two daughters of my own, and so I am very attune to the pain of children. I offer a virtual hug to the child you were who suffered that hunger and fear, and offer my admiration to the person you are now who could write about this so eloquently.

Sayuri Jane said...

Seeker, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!!

Mila Cross said...

your story is amazing~ I've been through some similar things and I can relate - Can I link to your page? I can't wait to read more from you =)

-Mila

Sayuri Jane said...

Thanks Mila, please feel free to do so.

kyledeb said...

I'm writing this because you are on Citizen Orange's blogroll. I'm looking to keep only those on who are in touch with me so if you could please write me at kyle at citizenorange dot com, I would appreciate it.