Saf: My Alter Ego
I held on to the grills that barred my bedroom window from the inside, peeking out at the sunny day. The chirping of newly hatched chickens and the commanding cluck of the mother hen drowned in the background as the powerful sound of large trucks racing on the nearby main route dulled it.
I was a made woman. I threw a sidelong glance at my wardrobe mirror. To stare into the face of me. To see me as others have seen me. Sometimes I didn’t like what I saw. It’s a tragedy that I could not move in this body that I was born into without unease. The woman I believed myself to be and the one staring at me in the mirror were inalienable. Dre only saw the one in the mirror.
A twittering of birds lulled me back to the presence. From my back door, my eyes scanned the trees for the beautiful plumage of the fowl of the air that led into the concave of a hill.
I glanced at the manuscript. Two hundred thousand words and counting. I excluded so many chapters, unfinished parts, when I was so steeped in despair that trying to write my way out of this heartache didn’t provide the catharsis I needed.
This book is big. I thought about putting it in two parts. Change the font, make it smaller so that so much of this tale that signaled another turning point in my life could be available in one dust-jacket stack of bonded papers.
I smiled at rows of banana trees and coconut trees with finger-like leaves in colors of yellow, brown, and green. The flesh beside my nose twitched, my eyes squinted, and my dark brown lips pursed into a thin line. I rocked as if I were in a music video and oozing the confidence of video vixen. I was a made woman.
I pulled a star-shaped pair of ash-gold colored earrings from my Chester drawer and put them on. Playing dress-up worked wonders for my self-esteem. I added makeup, a smear of cherry-red lipstick, and figure-flattering underwear—and then I slipped into my little black dress and sat before my laptop.
Love, literature’s most enduring muse.
When I started this story, it was about love and then it became about Dre, then myself, and now it’s about women, relationships, and self-esteem.
Saf was my literature magpie. I had collected parts of her while I milled around in my sorrow and my pregnancy hormones wreaked havoc on my personality. Some days, I walked around like a Jamaican mother woman with two pencils stuck in my wrapped headwear, popularly known as a “tie head,” ideas racing in my mind as fast as Usain Bolt.
Those were the days when I and Saf, my alter ego, felt like walking up Cerasee Road butt naked, chattering gibberish and hollering out Dre’s name. I’d sit and imagine it with my wanton imagination: the pot holes in the road filled with water, the women sprawling out on their verandahs. The faces of Dre’s legions of fans, the laughter of the young boys, and Dre chasing me away in anger and embarrassment. I’d laugh to myself and begin to write again. Dre would never live long enough to see that happen.
I didn’t love Dre. I hadn’t loved him for a long time. The honeymoon wore off around the second month after he all but dried up with me when I didn’t buy him a new pair of Clarkes. I, the literature major, missed the symbolism. He already had a perfectly good pair; he made me buy him a new one and he sold the old one.
It was the beginning of our relationship and the grandest metaphor yet. Dre would turn away a good woman for the prospect of a new one. And the metaphor expands, for just as I had never seen Dre in those shoes, not once, so too would I do things for him that I would never benefit from in the future. So it was in the beginning. So it shall be in the end.
I wept bitterly. My fingers trembled, and I sat before my laptop to complete this story—blinking away tears, humming a soft tune, and shaking my head in despair. I wished I’d never met him. He had scarred my life in such a way that I had to rethink my entire modus operandi.
My lips red, my dark curly hair on my shoulders, my round bottom on a stool like Alicia Keys at a concert. This was my orchestra of life. This is my story.