She sat by the mirror unable to stop the tears flowing. Her eyes were bloodshot red and black tears slid across her dark cheek making small zigzag lines as it slithered towards her jaw. She was a mess and no one seemed to notice. She touched her brown curly hair. Some people said it was curly, but they got it all wrong. It was an afro. She ran her hand across her hair not caring if her fingers got caught amongst the wild strands of hair. In fact she wanted her fingers to be caught amongst the thick curls, as if ensnared amongst impenetrable vines. She wanted to rip her hair out of her scalp and scream. She wanted to scream out loud and shatter the mirror in front of her. She wanted the mirror explode and see the fragments of glass shower around her. She wanted her screams to pierce the ears of those who tormented her. She wanted her screams to torture those who made her life a nightmare. She wanted to scream for freedom. She wanted to be free from the cage placed around her.
She turned on the radio and cringed as one of Michael Jackson’s songs came on. It don’t matter if you’re black or white it said. Abena scuffed “it does matter if you’re black or white Michael Jackson.” She turned off the radio and went to the bathroom.
Abena turned on the tap and fixed herself a bath. She locked the bathroom door. She hated everything about herself. She hated her skin’s dark brown colour. She hated the way she stood out amongst her peers. Abena glanced at the full length mirror and looked away, disgusted at her reflection. She looked like a kid just taken off the streets.
Abena grabbed a scissor from the table and began cutting her hair. She felt a weight lifting off her chest as small clumps of hair fell onto the cold marble floor. As she cut her hair she began singing
“three little birds sat on my window and they told me I don’t need to worry….”
She giggled. There she was feeling low and depressed, singing a song about not worrying. As felt more free as more clumps of hair fell on the ground. Satisfied with what she had done, she dropped the scissors on the floor. Abena stole a quick glimpse of herself on the mirror and smiled for a brief moment before stripping her clothes and throwing them on the floor. She turned off the tap and entered the bath tub. She closed her eyes as the water warmed her from the crown of her head to the tip of her toes.
Abena imagined she was popular for the first time in her life. She imagined being the girl everyone wanted. She was the girl whom people loved not the one they would throw insults at as she walked home. She opened her eyes grunted. She would never be popular. Not in a million years.
She grabbed the soap and sponge from the small basket beside the tub and began scrubbing her skin. She scrubbed and scrubbed vigorously, gritting her teeth as the pain seemed to overtake her. Her skin was burning her heart yelling at her to stop but she couldn’t stop. Blood began running from the cuts she had made on her skin. She didn’t stop. She couldn’t stop. She would keep going until her skin peeled away. She would keep going until she became white.
It didn’t work. It was still the same. She became angry and scrubbed even more vigorously. She soon became frustrated and started crying. She angrily wiped the tears away angrily. Why did she have to be black? Why was she born an African? Why was she inferior to everyone else?
Why did the other students insult her? Why did they call her a black bastard and tell her to go back to where she came from?
Abena kept scrubbing her skin. Why couldn’t she be white? Why couldn’t she be like everyone else?
She soon gave up and broke down crying in the bath tub not understanding why she was the odd one out?