The bartender last night called me “Mama” – not “baby,” or “angel,” or “little girl,” “lady,” “obruni,” or “mzungu,” but “mama.” A small thing, but it was nice to know at least one person saw me as a credible and independent human being.
I’ve been getting acquainted with the contours of my face as part of this project: the symmetries and asymmetries; my left eye is bigger than my right and small wrinkles that I’m actually becoming a little partial to, are forming underneath both of them, as well as across my forehead.
My face looks different everyday. I’ve been paying attention to my expressions, when I squint, when I’m inquisitive, when I look at life straight on, and what makes me want to look away. Sometimes I think I’m beautiful, in the way you think that about something you’ve just discovered.
While it took less than an instant for the barman to see me and see a woman standing in front of him, I have only just discovered my face – it has taken me my whole life to see me. Who I am has depended a lot on the worldview of those I encountered. Today, there’s no one here but me. My self-image depends on my worldview. I’m not perfect or pretty – nope, today, I don’t think I’m particularly attractive at all, but I am whole.