Though it’s almost 20 years ago, I can’t remember to forget that morning. It was a Saturday, a time for new looks to be plaited on our heads. My elder brother, the beloved impatient, was going to be seeing us off to the saloon, you know what this means, hurry up or get a fast-forwarding slap that helps you pick up the pace.
“Uju!! UJU!!! come and see, come and see😢…” with so much heaped-up fright triggered by the gory image her eyes had just embraced, my sister Chichi couldn’t wait for me to get to her. She kept screaming my name as she ran to meet me halfway, and behold!! I saw her holding bulky strands of hair covered in pus and blood, all rooted to a peeled skin. “Jesus!! What happened? Who cut your head🥺😲?” I was terrified and immediately afflicted with goosebumps.
One unsolicited gamble life gifts us with is that our lives can change in split seconds. It’s either for better or worse, we are not presented with the gift of a choice. At that moment, my sister who was only 11 years old had her life changed into a nightmare. While every little girl in her circle enjoyed the reality of getting their hairs decorated with beautiful colored beads hanging at the tip of innocently woven cornrows on their heads, my sister had her hair scraped to its foundation with a large plaster supported with bulks of cotton wool underneath that gave it a really offensive shape, plastered in the middle of her head.
“Uju, is the plaster showing? If I put the handkerchief like this, will people notice😪?” Not a day went by without my sister asking me these questions before she left for school. But unfortunately, her cover of shame with the handkerchief was always short-lived by her insensitive teachers who scolded her every time in class affirming that the handkerchief was not part of their uniform, thus ordering her to remove it. This exposed her to undiluted mockery from her classmates.
She lost her esteem completely. She often told me that during break hours, her classmates would draw a large pie head on the board and label it “Maureen’s head”. They would playfully dissect it trying to find X. Sometimes they’ll even come too close to sightsee her head to make sure they had a proper illustration, also chanting “Find X on Maureen’s head”. If you can’t beat them you join them yeah? She found herself too embarrassed to pick a slot to engage them in laughing at her pain. Oftentimes she’ll pretend to be asleep in class, deliberately missed assemblies by hiding in the toilet, and worst off preferred to get her ass whopped at the gate for coming late.
Imagine a child of 11 years old in JS1, losing her confidence and having a psychological breakdown in a world that ought to be fair to her at least at that stage of her life. To date, my sister still has the scar (almost invincible now) on her head. And the psychological scar? She’s still insecure about the shape of her head, she believes she’s got the biggest head to ever say hello to planet earth, one even mightier than watermelons. You can’t tell her otherwise, she’s vowed never to cut her hair again for any reason whatsoever.
I know you’re wondering what exactly led to a change of story for my sister’s head, well it all started with her trying to untangle a relaxer burn while losing her hair, and tada, she ended up uprooting her entire scalp. A sad tale that still haunts her to this day!
AN AGONIZING THREAD
I got unfairly surrendered by nostalgia over my sister’s story while scrolling through Twitter and saw a tweet by @demigodgeous which read “I remembered in JS2, I was voted 2nd ugliest person in the class. I was pretending it didn’t hurt me, but it did. It did.” My emotions were suddenly gripped by the sad-toned voice of my sister, how she often said to me “secondary school was the worst stage of my life. The worst place to be, everyone is fake and insensitive including the teachers”.
Then I moved over to the comments, a lot of the responses pierced my emotions more. I couldn’t resist a few screenshots…
“In the drama club, they needed someone to act as satan; the intro tech teacher who’s the coordinator and supposedly a child of God nominated me and explained that imagery and representation matters a lot and they have to use someone that’s close enough to cast the role”– @DrikejioforP
“Reminds me of an experience in primary school where I was paraded in front of the whole school during assembly as having the worst set of teeth. I had fallen down a flight of stairs some months earlier and that hurt my teeth. Tried explaining to my teacher o. But No, this woman paraded me in front of the whole assembly talking about “This is what happens to your teeth when you don’t brush it. Do you want your teeth to look like hers?” Everyone shouted “No”, of course. I did not forgive my teacher for many years for doing that to me”- To_Lisah
“I remember my classmate saying I was so ugly that he would marry me and keep me at the door so that anytime he comes back from work and sees my face, he would laugh”- @BLAQ1E
“I hated my lips in secondary school! A classmate accused me of having big lips, and used to push her mouth forward to make fun of me! It was so painful, I hated my lips so much…I wished I could reduce it!! But my God, look at the sumptuous lips now”- @Pweetiedivine1
“I have had a missing incisor for about 5 years now, I was in SS2 when I had the accident. I recall going to school and everyone laughed at me when I opened my mouth to speak saying I looked like a vampire. To date, that tooth has not been fixed and people still laugh or stare when they see me. That has really lowered my level of confidence in myself. I can’t even take a picture smiling and I hate meeting new people”- @Airfay_69
O, boy! How were kids able to stomach so much hurt? How is it that the kids were so disconnected from the pain their fellow kids felt?
I WAS A NIGHTMARE TOO
And then my emotions are catapulted to every ounce of hurt I made Yemisi Sonuga go through. Ooo Yemisi, damn! I was in JSS 1, boarding house, and this girl, I just could never bring myself to empathize with her. For obvious reasons, I guess it was because she wasn’t like the rest of the girls I wanted in my corner. Secondary school and cliques are like bread and butter, it makes the whole essence worthwhile. And if you gotta keep a clique, you have to make sure to come correct.
Yemisi was too odd but her admiration for me made her yearn for closure. I saw her as too clingy, it pissed me off. She had natural brown-colored teeth which at the time felt disgusting to look at and nearly every time she spoke, spit splattering was sure. I couldn’t deal. Well not only me, the rest of the girls too. No one wanted her. We often mocked her brown teeth and made sure she cried before we stopped. The only time she was good for us was helping us fetch our buckets or go on those long errands. Of course, she always obliged as it made her feel among. Unfair to mention that she spent most of her time at the hostel in tears due to frustration from us.
Yemisi couldn’t handle the heat, we resumed JSS 2 and it was announced she withdrew. Deep down my conscience was uneasy, I knew I had a hand in it but the bad side of my mind kept cheering me on with great relief!
I never forgot her, her name, and what she looked like. Fast forward to after secondary school, I searched for her on Facebook, I found her and sent a connection request which she accepted. Her warm welcome brought me peace. She sent me a message on how life has been, not bad, not perfect. But reading in between the lines of her messages, I was able to uncover that she still had that attached admiration for me. She was still hung on to what we could have been as friends. I didn’t know if to extend a hand of friendship or seek her forgiveness. I was too much of an egoistic coward to seek her forgiveness, I took solace in the fact that she might have never registered any of what I did as an offense. Should I have opened a chapter she might never acknowledged existed? Perhaps the forgiveness I sought was from my conscience, not her.
OOPS I DIDN’T HAVE IT ENTIRELY ROSY
Ooo yes! I wasn’t one of those ‘crown to sole’ spotless kids in the neighborhood. I had my share of insecurities with malaria playing the unrepentant devil’s advocate in my life. As a kid, I often woke up with blisters on my lips even when I wasn’t ill. It will spread across causing sores that were distasteful to look at. I got mocked by my peers for having “hot water lips”. The cold sores happened too often to not leave scars and I’ll never forget a certain boy who said to me “why are your lips like this? Don’t you know it will deter kissers”. The nerve though, like it was my making.
For a long time, I felt insecure about my lips which also got mocked for being big, and yeah yeah my teeth. The incisors appeared bigger than the rest after all my milk teeth bit the dust. I couldn’t laugh at will without getting called “big teeth”. Now, I still suffer a bit of the trauma, I don’t entirely find them cute.
ARE KIDS REALLY INNOCENT?
As an adult now, I often ruminate on the nature of kids, and how cruelly insensitive they are. It’s often said that kids are the most innocent, I beg to differ, kids are brutal! I think of us as kids and I wonder how we picked bad habits in a world we haven’t lived so much in. Is it inborn? It’s interesting that as adults, we now play the sensitivity card.
Many of us still carry scars meted in our childhood. We’re grown now but will these childhood scars ever die? Going through that thread, some tweeps have accepted their hate for pictures because they believe they’re ugly. Some will never connect with old schoolmates because of the trauma. Some will forever hate their teachers.
Did you suffer a childhood trauma either in school or your neighborhood? Do you still carry the scar or have found your confidence? I’ll like to learn about how it all started and the social and psychological impact. Or were you the tormentor? Don’t be shy, the only shame you’re allowed to feel is if you still have those demons dancing with your spirit.
Also, I’ll ask again, are kids really innocent? They say writing is therapy, perhaps we might find the closure we desire letting it all out in the comment section. Kindly leave your comments below 🤗👇👇
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