You see, I did not expect you to smell of lavender and shampoo. Or for your skin to flee from its previous colour and lay camp in a lighter one. The colours of your face became the colours of custard powder – the kind that lined the market in those ochre plastic buckets. But we all know that when you had been born, the white man had seen you and gasped “Monkey” without flinching. We know you were red, so red that ignorant people confused it for light skin. They had been surprised when you had grown. They gave excuses, saying the sun had tanned you but deep down they knew, cats didn’t give birth to dogs. I did not expect your hips to be rounded, because you were an African.
But you did not listen, you wanted average. You forgot your roots and began to settle for endless exercise and relaxation practices which had you so lean, people began to whisper you might be anorexic. I did not want your lips to taste like strawberry because I knew they couldn’t, because I knew they had seen dozens of harmattan seasons and I knew Vaseline in its fluffy majesty did not leave one’s lips tasting like strawberry. I did not expect your lashes to flutter -their length denied them that privilege. Yet suddenly those lashes of yours began to flutter more than the hands of an effeminate teen boy.
You never grew up. Because if you did, you would know girls your age in times not so far away trudged to the stream tanned by the scorching sun. You would know girls your age still got married with their coal coloured skin, lived happily ever after and bore girls like you. You would know girls your age had no option to make their eyelashes flutter or their hips more ample. Yet girls your age were happy. Girls your age pranced and giggled every morning swaying those ample hips to the left and to the right. Men saw them and loved them, in their enticing state. There were no tube creams in fancy packs with pictures of light skinned models. The girls took pride in their kinky hair that wouldn’t straighten or form ponytails and would on very rare occasions exceed their temple. They took pride in those things, and little that made them shy African girls.
I am resigned to expecting it now. I now see it far much in every place I go. Bleached skin, bone-straight hair and fluttering lashes apace with strawberry-scented lips. I see girls who never grew up, whose lips did not know the loving smear of Vaseline because there were brighter shades of tiaras. I see girls who didn’t preen in front of a mirror wanting curvier hips and accepting God’s way, because waist trainers now exist. I see girls who never grew up, girls whose lives were in two stages. Childhood and Adulthood- without those little, too little years weaned on the shores of maturity into God-given beauty.