I am black… and I am not proud.
You see, when I see people who say they are black, their complexion usually varies between a tint above ‘yellow’ and some dark shade of chocolate. I on the other hand, am a dark shade of black, if such a term even made sense.
Speaking of sense, my colour made none. My parents were fair skinned, like fair enough for people to want to bleach to achieve their colour, you get my drift. My two siblings, Joseph and Anita, were light skinned. Anita could comfortably pass for a half caste. Okay, maybe my grandparents were dark…nope. All light skinned on every side. In fact, in both my and my parents’ generation in the family, I was the only black dark one.
Naturally this affected me a little a WHOLE LOT while growing up. It was one thing to question if you were really adopted, but it was another thing when your supposed parents questioned your origins. So, I heard things like –
“I wonder where you got this behavior from. Certainly not me.”
“Don’t look at me like that, you black thing!”
“You’ve broken something again? God knows you can’t be my child”
Etcetera, etcetera. These words usually floated out in fits of anger when I was being beaten for something I had done (or not done) or when either of them were drunk.
See, my parents were not monsters. They were actually pretty nice people and I loved them to pieces… still do in a way. They weren’t perfect and neither was I (even though I knew thought at the time, that I was less perfect than they were), and I accepted them for who they were. My siblings on the other hand, couldn’t care less if was black, white or orange. In fact, Anita once attempted to paint me pink with poster colour to brighten me up. Did I mention that I got flogged for that too? It was somehow my fault since I encouraged it – I should be proud of how I looked and not seek to change. I knew then that they were crazy. Why in the world would they expect me to be proud of how I looked, when they weren’t? Tah!
Anita and Jo didn’t care. But I cared. You would too if you always stuck out in the family portrait.
I managed this issue through childhood, but by the time I got to my teenage years, it was a different ball game entirely. Joseph died from cancer which we detected when it was already too late. After which everyone kept their distance from me. Somehow, it was Vince’s fault. My fault. I was scarred for life when my mum, drunk with alcohol and grief, pointed at me- You killed him. You cursed and evil child you killed my Jo!
I wept that day. First for Jo, my elder brother who defended me for being me and who I loved more than life itself, and then I cried for myself. What did I do to deserve this? Did I ask to be born this way? If I really was adopted (which they always denied), did I force them to take me in?
That was the beginning of the end of our relationship as a family. I just stopped trying, and I didn’t care. Dad and mum attended to my basic needs and left it at that. Even Anita began to withdraw and keep to herself…it pained me to think that she also thought I had in some way taken the life of our elder brother.
I was fortunate to get a respectable job as soon as I completed my studies. I packed my bags and left, never looking back. They had my address and number to reach me if they needed me, and they never did. Neither did I.
I didn’t care about my parents, but I watched Anita from a distance.
My baby sister had disappeared and a woman emerged. A model, doing very well by all standards.
I was proud of her. I loved her beyond words. But I didn’t know her, not anymore.
The outcast was gone. Good riddance.
I was able to cover my esteem issues with hard work at the office, and rose steadily. Outside that, I had almost no friends, didn’t socialize much at all, spent a lot of time at the gym or by myself reading anything of interest I could lay my hands on, or on my other hobbies. But I mostly worked.
People generally avoided me and in the same generality, I avoided them. It was perfect. Relationships? Wasn’t interested in any more sympathy. I felt that the ladies who did throw themselves at me, for reasons I cannot begin to phantom, did so out of pity. So I ignored them and went about my business.
Back when I still believed in the existence of a God, I used to ask what His grand plan was for someone like me. I couldn’t have been a factory error, so what was it? I guess I must have been, cos He never responded. Probably didn’t have time for a defected product.
Anyway, that was me in a nutshell.
My story continues…