By Amandla Karungi
“Stella” was a good girl. She was also a shy, easily embarrassed Puritanical church girl. Four years after diligently earning her place among the holiest in her high school society, Stella fell in love. Love, like money and power, make the biggest fools of people. Love destabilizes all that you thought was definite. In its palms you are wet clay. It will mold you into anything; a criminal, a deviant.
Under the evil spell of love, Stella got caught between leading worship in praise rallies and going for worldly school dances called “Vig”. Songs by Alicia Keys were not allowed in church, but Alicia Keys wouldn’t be playing at Vig. Only Gyptian would. Stella did not know this. She had not yet tasted the angst, delusion and lunacy of adolescence; the excesses of love and hormones. She also did not know this yet, but she would do worse than just dance to ‘Hold Yuh’.
When Stella got a boyfriend, she, the dutiful child, had promptly announced to her mother, “Mummy, Ernest asked me to be his girlfriend and I said yes.” What she didn’t add was, “Do you approve?” But Maama Stella knew that it was what she wanted. Stella the Good was always waiting for a rub on the back, for her mother to say “good girl” as she wagged her tail like a happy puppy.
Stella’s confidence relied mainly on what her mother thought of her. Where was her father? Of course! He was always in the office. He was only vaguely aware that he might have fathered a daughter through some distracted spill of sperm some 17 years ago. Also, he had no time to care about the trifling non-issues of the female sex.
Stella had started the blistering transition between child and young woman. Her mother, typical of the African way, said nothing to her about sexuality. She just assumed she would find out from her aunties on the night before her marriage. She instead just tightened the locks on the doors of their home.
Teenage Stella grew on to her boyfriend like a climbing plant. Soon Stella’s days of escourting mummy to town were numbered. The neighbours now constantly passed by her standing under a tree getting publicly inappropriate with Ernest.
Maama Stella and Stella got into fights every night about Stella’s coming home late with leaves in her hair. One late Saturday night, in the thickness of one of such quarrels, Maama Stella, who was known to have a very loose mouth, called Stella a slut.
Remember Stella’s history, her genetic predisposition to be good and thought of as good. Remember that her esteem was built entirely on what her mother thought of her. This verbal blow gave her a severe case of depression until she found a way to overcome it. It could have gone one of two ways; Stella could have gone back to the church and announced that she had “backslided”, received her condemnation and acceptance back into the fold, but she took the other way. She decided to vandalise her holy beginnings and re-birth herself as a straight talking, sex enthusiast and fearless harbinger of profanity. Two years after she first desecrated her holy vessel, Stella began to liberate her mind from the confines of all that she had once adhered to. Stella decided to become a feminist. Feminists were people who believed that their bodies and what they did with them did not define them. They believed that sexual desires were not apples from hell, they were just what they were.
Having finally found a voice, she lost herself in the restless desire to shock the sheep still living within the fold. In a whirlwind of emotions; of fear, of perfection, of holiness, of desecration, of rules, of abandon, of madness, of love, of loss, of sin, of mummy, of daddy, of what she should and shouldn’t do, one day she popped open her blouse and showed the world her last card; the naked breasts of a grown fifty year old woman.
“Checkmate,” she said.
“This is for you church, you only gave me more questions for the questions I asked you. This is for you, daddy, you never cared. This is for you mummy, you let me down when I needed your guidance. Look at this buffet of reproductive organs. This is my “I don’t care message.”
“There are moments which mark your life – moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts: before this and after this.” (John Hobbes, Fallen)
This was that moment in her life. One of those moments after which you never see the world the same way again.