When I was growing up,my dad was my hero. I wanted to walk, talk and be like him.He was the standard I wanted to follow. He was also the first man who broke my heart. I was in the fifth grade and I wanted a new pair of school shoes and he promised me he would get them for me. I spent two terms rushing to my closet first thing when I got home from school, hoping he wanted to surprise me maybe and leave them there for me to find them. Well, he probably doesn’t remember this. There were many things I had wanted him to do, to be but he never came round. I wrote him a letter once from boarding school, but he didn’t bother to reply. Sometimes I think he used it to smoke a joint or something, or lost at the bottle store. As I grew up, I was infuriated by some of his decisions and wouldn’t point out that’s my dad in public. I started to avoid him and only sparked conversation only when I knew what I wanted from him I would get nowhere else. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to be male. To be male meant to be taken seriously, to not be questioned, to be respected, to be listened to and to have ultimate control and it was proving to be hard doing it as a female.
Fate tossed me from one man to another. And I,adamant to be the embodiment of half-man; intimidating, stubborn and refusing to subordinate to any of them. Ironic how the hands of a man delivered me from the walls of my self injustice. Ushered me into a world where I found myself embracing my femininity for the first time. Two things he did. He looked at me with what I think was desire in his eyes and gave me a compliment. He said, “You look good in a dress, you should wear them more often.” I must have worn a dress that day because my laundry backlog was way overdue.
Surprisingly, my confidence gauge shot upwards and my heart leaped in a mixture of pure pleasure and confusion. But why was I so happy? I didn’t understand why I felt validated, but after that everything took a sharp turn around. How I wished that I had done it for myself. I brought out all my skirts and dresses from behind, beneath and the bottom of my usual choices. The shorts, jeans, T-shirts and sweaters were sent on an urgent vacation. I began to pay attention to my body. Neverminding how the fabric of certain designs traced my silhouette, exposing my full figure. Baring it for the whole world to see. I could do what the Hip Hop songs called, “..swingin’ dem hips…” out in the public. I acquired the notorious bottom power from Nigerian colloquial. I understood the language of the body, how it could say, “Please.”, “No.” and “Come over here.” I could speak a thousand words without parting my full lipstick coated lips. I became a full fleshed female overnight. What other would refer to as “too much.” was just enough for me.
For the first time I understood what my friends at 14 would do as they lingered outside the school hall at a disco party . The motivation to showcase cleavage and curves that I never really possessed outside my mother’s gate. I had fought my whole life to become a man and and there I was, giggling with my BFF, checking out boys and going crazy over ‘girly’ things. Who was this person?
To be continued…