All posts filed under: Columns

A smiling woman floating in water.

Notes on the Ancestral, Collective & Personal Body

I feel, therefore I can be free – Audre Lorde   personal & collective body I have come to learn that my body is not just my body—it’s an accumulation of freshly scarred histories embellishing the surface of my skin. My body is flesh, soul and history, a combination of intergenerational teachings passed down through lifetimes. My body is woven by threads of ancestors who came before, their ropes tie knots of unrelenting anguish into my cells. Buried within me, a legacy of brittle disempowerment yet to be healed, juxtaposed by a phenomenal strength that bears stories of wisdom, intertwined into my very breath, wrapped around my lungs, pulsating through my blood. I have been transporting stories, both personal and part of the collective through my body, with my body. Collective/ancestral stories occupy my genetics, harvest a crop of tight braids that I am learning to live, learning to loosen, learning to distinguish. Personal stories materialise from outside, settling, at first on the peripheries of my margins, shaped in feelings and silhouettes of consequential experiences. Arriving through …

I Need to Tell You About My Mother

I need to tell you something.  I need to tell you that my mother isn’t ugly.  I was always told that she was. Nobody said it out loud. No one threw fruit, broke mirrors, or howled at the moon when she passed. The u-word was never spoken directly to her face or mine. But when people spoke about her, it was obvious. They talked about her hair, her skin, her size, her face as though they were all somehow wrong. The things she was born with—the hair from her scalp, the color of her skin, the size of her thighs and stomach, her tiny smile—these were all deficiencies. They were lazy, unkempt, unwanted, even when she took good care of them.  Nobody ever spoke to my mother softly. Nobody asked her if she was alright. Nobody made sure she was safe. Nobody went with her to the store late at night or plumped her pillows when she returned. Nobody treated her like she was precious. I never saw anyone take care of my mother. I …

Chef for the Day

1. A food photo? A tray full of broccoli and peppers—jungle green, marigold yellow, and vermilion—pops open in a text from Cabral. What’s this from my babychile! You beam and coo out loud, safe with no one around to hear or judge your pet name for a married man over 30. Those roasted veggies look good enough to be the cover art of some foodie website. So olive-oil glazed and crunchy-crisp, you want to reach into the screen. You cringe at what your own dinner options include. But these veggies are fresh from an oven, and you recognize the hairy hand in the mitt pulling them out. The picky eater? You blurt out, What? No message comes with the picture. On Cabral’s end, apparently he expects just that reaction. He’s chuckling, leaving just enough time for your sputter before he follows up: Yo, Mom. Making dinner. Looks good huh.   2. In the after-work grog that nails you to the sofa, doors slam repeatedly. Above the sleep surface that din turns out to be kitchen cabinets. The …

MisCarry Me

Content warning: This essay contains graphic depictions of miscarriage and blood loss. October 13, 2015, will forever be etched in my mind.   I thought it would be a day like any other, but it became a whirlwind that shook me to my very core. On the surface, it was one of the most chaotic days that I have ever experienced. Yet, in hindsight, it was orderly and divinely purposeful.   I was about seven weeks pregnant with our third child. I woke up around 5:30 a.m. to the usual nausea that had lingered well into the sixth month of my previous pregnancies. Here we go again, I thought. But soon I experienced sharp pain in my belly. As the pain grew more and more intense, I knew something was wrong. But seeing my doctor meant that I would have to face the reality of his diagnosis. I was not ready for that.  Before long, I began to feel lightheaded. Concerned that I was going to faint, I whispered a prayer to God, asking Him to help …

3 Weeks and 2 Days Late

I’d like to say, “Good Morning,” but is it good? It came. Crept in, burst through in the obscurity of night. A red, heavy, forceful rupture. 1 week: inconsequential. 2 weeks: a spark of maybe, hushed tones of probably not, but fingers crossed. 3 weeks: the joy of what if seeping in. Imagining your hands caressing a growing belly, the way you’ll tell your son, your husband. 3 weeks and 1 day: a smile, guard coming down, believing maybe. Maybe, it really did happen. 3 weeks and 2 days: a rupture. How does one explain an experience both sanguine and dubious? Every month, every week,  every  single  day, listening for clues, hints, inklings, gut checks. Any implication the body may deliver— sore breasts, backaches, headaches, a heightened sense of smell. Is that nausea, fatigue— what does it mean?  Even spotting keeps reality at bay.  What color is it, could it be implantation—who am I kidding? Body remind me, what gave you away 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 years ago now when I first knew …