Faces of Change
In her latest contribution, Keitu ‘BlackScribe’ Reid, shares a series of change-inspiring moments in her own life – showing us all that that change can happen whether you realise it or not. But more importantly, reminding us that everything we’ll ever need to get through it is right there inside of us.
The way I see it, change happens all the time. Sometimes it is so miniscule you do not notice it until the change has ensued – like the water evaporating from the hot ground – culminating in fat clouds waiting to burst and revert back to be here with us. Other times it is deliberate and easy to identify, like the moment your hand intently cups an ice cube and you watch it melt into fluid liquid…
But change can be deceptive; I recall a day in high school, I was just about to climb the stairs that would lead me into chapel. Every Sunday was compulsory mass at our boarding school, and from time to time they allowed parents to attend. One balmy evening, *Susan’s parents attended; as I knew them I gave them a courteous ‘Good Evening.’
Mischief shone in their eyes. “Is your father well? We haven’t seen him in such a long time”, they asked attempting to sound concerned. Of course, they were not concerned. They were laughing at me. I knew it. They knew it. Anyone who could read a newspaper knew of my father’s misjudgement and consequent punishment.
‘He is fine. Thanks.’ I responded expressionless. I changed, I learned to turn my back on people. I walked into the church with my shoulders back and my head held high. I stared at the wall – Jesus hung painfully on the cross.
Growing up was generally an ache. I remember being teased because I was a little chubby. I grew tired of this taunting and decided I need to change. So, I ate All Bran with boiled water in the morning; a hotdog for lunch; and I would only eat supper if it was light (I had no choice regarding what is on the menu – boarding school). If it was oily and heavy I would eat half, then try and puke it out. Puking was sore so I decided to run laps on the school field. The weight dropped. There were days I felt dizzy and faint. The teasing stopped.
Change sometimes requires a commitment. I recall sneaking up to the balcony of highest floor of our Technicon residence at midnight. It was my secret place; where all the things that happened during the day that changed me were cemented. It was the place where I made pacts with the stars while gagging over a Stuyvesant ‘loose-draw’. “It will change”, I promised my young, hopeful spirit.
Change can be dreamy and laid-back – I would stroll down the streets of Sunnyside, trampling on fallen Jacaranda blooms – greeting hookers, illegal Nigerian immigrants and jolly hairdressers from Zim who I knew – not by their names or anything – but by virtue of the fact that they are all my kind, hustling through life. I remember going to the baker on Esselen Street to buy a Chelsea bun. The cashier would chirp “Hello hun” with a big goofy smile. Half would be lunch. Half would be supper. I would ease into the night and watch black and white kung fu flicks. In such films there is always the hero. And when I dosed off some of those images remained in my mind – me, the champion of my own life, someday. I decided to believe in dreams.
The truth about change is that it can come across as being so damn bitchy! I had my son when I was flat broke, 22 years old and disorientated by this harsh reality. Soon after his birth I went to visit *Remo. My relationship with Remo had always been tricky and tense, yet there was no way we could escape each other. A little after I had my son she said, “If my daughter came home pregnant I would slap the bitch!”. I cried inside but I didn’t allow the tears to run out.
I suspected Remo said this intentionally. I suspected she wanted to drive the dagger in and make sure my blunder would remain painful and cruel and nasty for as long as possible. What Remo failed to realise is every time she was horrible to me or any other person battling through life, I would speak to my inner soul and beg it to be more determined. She drove my ambition and strength of mind. She has no idea.
The bizarre thing about change is that is can take you by complete surprise. Eight years ago I never thought I would forgive Remo – but my latest interactions with Remo are good, sometimes even fun. I remember my mother pointed out protectively, “Now that you are doing well she will accept you”. It is true. Today I am happy. I want for nothing and so I am acknowledged by Remo and many others who once shunned me. And I am OK with it. I have forgiven, but I have not forgotten that I was once judged by the fluctuations of my life’s circumstances. However, because I remember the sadness and isolation I felt, I decided not to make anyone ever feel like that. Ever.
One of my significant changes happened the day I met this girl called *Thandie. We quickly became inseparable friends. She said I was amazing. She said she appreciated me. I felt lifted. I don’t know what I did. I have no idea where she could have dug out all this love for a companion she’d hardly known. But when she said she appreciates me, there was something so pure and sincere in her approach that my heart began to thaw – there are genuinely cool people in this world.
I changed when we lay in bed one day and I asked him, “Baby why do you love me?”. He held me tight in his arms and said, “I love you because you mix it up within the range of you being you”. I knew at that moment I wanted to love him forever because he got it. He got me. For once I thought, “I don’t have to walk away, I can stay.”
Change can reveal itself in the midst of calm. It was about 7pm, month-end on a Friday – but I didn’t feel like going out. Instead I stayed home and listened to India Arie singing ‘River Rise’. I felt her every word. I hung onto each note as it reached me through the smell of candles and the taste of Merlot. If I could have ever defined peacefulness, that would be it. I wish I could have captured that moment, called it content and then hung it on the wall (a crucial reminder). I transformed that day. I knew happiness is not something I will find out there somewhere.
Happiness, peace, love, faith and kindness are qualities I (and you) have all the time. We just forget.