Today I went for a walk alone. I generally don’t do that. I always have someone by my side to stroll in leisure at the breezy hours of the day. But today I went alone, with Hozier’s holy melodies playing through my headphones.
You could say I get anxious when I feel people looking at me. Strangers sizing me up and down with their gaze. Desi aunties staring at me with slitted eyes, as if they know it is I that ravished the neighbour’s boy. Men my father’s age looking at me as if an alien with giant headphones walked among them. Young men riding past me in motorcycles turning around to get a good look at my face, to perhaps compare the front and behind. Lazy eyed gentlemen giving me a look that speaks more than words could. Oh how I miss the general nonchalance of the Japanese people I encountered only a few days ago.
I averted my gaze then, I looked down as I walked. I looked at the leaf littered street, with sleepy dogs pissing at the pavements. I looked down at the small children shrieking with joy while they play their silly games, so far away from the cruelty that awaited them on the other side. I looked down and tried to form shapes from broken brick pieces. One’s a frog, other’s a hotdog. I looked down with fear. Or was it shame? I wouldn’t know, because I label it all under a comfy blanket of anxiety.
But with change in the music that played in my ears, came the suddenness of a familiar beat that shifted the awkwardness that I felt inside my limbs. Ms. Grande with her uplifting words reminded me of the fact that I preach to everyone, but forget to apply for myself.
God is a woman.
Of course she is. Capable of withstanding storms and cyclones. Capable of destroying cities with her wrath. Capable of fighting away demons with long, slithery tongues and drunk eyes. Capable of being a fearless, unscathed rock who lifts up the weight of the entire world on her shoulders. My mind flooded with a million names and images of women that keep me going, that have kept me going for years. Women that have taught me the meaning of being strong-willed.
And so, I looked up. Squared my shoulders, ran a hand through my hair, adjusted my headphones. I looked up. With a new rush of energy in my stride and a sense of purpose in my bones, I looked up. The leaves hanging down from the droopy trees pecked my forehead and cheeks. The small birds chirped loud enough for me to hear over the music. The sky changed colours; from blue to orange to pink. Perhaps to applaud me. Perhaps to remind me that Mother Nature is a fierce lady that she is looking over her children. Perhaps to prove to me that there is still beauty in this sick world, bountiful and pleasing. One just has to look up to it, through their pained eyes and sorrowful stance. One has to feel it within, to turn a blind eye to those who approach it as predators.
And so when another boy looked at me with suggestive eyes and a sleazy smile, my well manicured, golden nailed, middle finger rose from the ashes like a Phoenix to wipe off the smirk that challenged my worth. At that moment, I knew, the thumping beats of my heart weren’t channelled by fear, but by a surge of triumph. Coursing deep within me. Threatening to swallow those whole, who attempt to fathom me. Mortals, who think of women as vessels for their lustful desires.
Finally as my walk came to it’s tiring end, a child wrapped in the arms of her mother looked at me and smiled a toothless grin. Her eyes radiating mirth and something so genuine for which I can’t find the words. It felt as if she knew what I had been through. It felt as if she appreciated it. My heart was filled with a feeling so pure that I was scared to touch it, lest my fingers dirty it. And that’s when I knew my purpose on this godforsaken planet.
I don’t have a picture for you today; of the sunset of the skies. I just have my words. And I say it was beautiful today. Make of it what you will.