Friday, September 24, 2010

A Bond by Birth: A Childhood Object Described

Wherever I lived, I had to be a big girl.

I cry because my mother or father is yelling at me? If I do it in front of them, it ends up becoming embarrassing later.

I cry because my heart is broken? Never in front of my family or friends.

I cry because I am leaving a country where I made great new friends? Never, EVER in front of my family, and coincidentally never in front of my friends, too.

Maybe the coincidence isn't a coincidence after all, you know. I've been made harder, like stone. I listened to Simon & Garfunkel's I am a Rock when I was about 13 and I thought...Wow. This song is life. MY life.

I don't feel that way anymore. I feel that if I should cry, let me cry! I am a human being who deserves to be sad. I deserve to look forward in my life and not backward. I cannot get over the past, however, if I keep everything inside. My friends would love to help me, as I would love to help them no matter what. Why not show them my feelings? Why not cry?

I can't. I'm 21 years old, and I can cry at movies like I have lost everything I have ever loved, but if you make me sad, or if I feel sad for another, even more devastating reason, you will not see me cry. Books, songs, movies, random news stories and photos will make me cry. Sometimes, you'll be around when that happens. That'll be your lucky day, because otherwise, I am a rock, I am an island. And a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries.


Tomorrow, I have an extra Saturday class. I am supposed to bring an object that is from my childhood or that represents my childhood before I turned 10 years old. I honestly have nothing from that time frame anymore. I do not have, in my possession, anything that old. I have some scanned photographs that I might share, but that is the only thing I have.

I will not share these with you, because some of them involve my family and the last thing I want to do is show a picture of my family on the internet. That would be risky and unfair to them. But I will describe a picture to you that I think I might share tomorrow.

I do not know how old I am, however, I am very little. Well, little as in young, but I was a big baby! I was enormous! My large, black eyes made me alien-like and frightening, even to me today! They are soulless. My mother's father hold me up while my father's father grabs on from the other side. They are standing beneath a framed Islamic inscription on a blank cream wall. My grandfathers are smiling, animated, alive. They are excited to be holding me.

But what I will probably not mention tomorrow is that even as a baby, I was emotionless and blank as that wall behind me. I don't even have a hint of curiosity. I am staring, but at nothing at all, just towards the camera so that the lens can capture those dark, dark eyes. I am wearing a ridiculous pink outfit, but I might as well have been naked. I was either a blank slate waiting to take on the world, or the zombie I am afraid of becoming today.

It is strange to me how emotional and happy people are with a new arrival like me into the world. I have never been that excited about babies, although I must admit that when my niece was born, it was an entertaining idea for me to think about being an aunt. However, in general, my interest in children has waned. My interest in life, however, since that picture was taken, has grown immensely.

I am studying really hard so that I can understand the way cultures interact. Right in that photograph, I am seeing a forced alliance through marriage between two very, very different cultures. My mother's father looks so different from my father's father. One is white and American, one is dark and Mauritian. They are both a part of me, and they are both insanely beautiful. They have different personalities that reflect in their eyes and postures. My mother's father is looking at me with a cheeky grin of all white teeth, his hair pushed back in a messy parting. He is charming, funny, and loving. My father's father stands just a bit straighter, his hair neater, and he wears a sweater-vest and tie. He is also smiling, but directly at the camera. It looks like he is in the middle of a laugh. He looks so proud to be the grandfather of a third girl; I can see it in his Caspian blue eyes.

I can see cultural differences, but what I see even more now is how similar these two men become, together in this frame. Sure, their physical features are different, extremely different, but their expressions are connected. That day, in that photograph...they were connected by me. It's hard for me to think of that, but I know it is true. The picture was taken to actually celebrate me, and it took me so long to get it.


So what if I grew up all moody and cold? So what if I went through moments and periods of sadness and solitude? I hid my feelings, but today I am not the same. I love that I am alive. I mean something to someone, even more than one someone. I may be working on expressing my feelings outwardly, but I will one day prevail even if it is not today.

One day, I will be able to cry in front of someone and it won't feel weird or awkward or wrong. There is a time and place for everything, and my time and place for open expression is in an intimate area, with a friend or family member. I can do this; I know it. It may not be soon, but it will be a day described as a turning point in my life.


  1. Your writing is getting stronger every time you post. Always a joy to read.

  2. Thanks so much, Anonymous! I really appreciate that comment...makes me want to keep writing. Thank you again.