Wednesday, April 6, 2011
So I have had quite a few curious minds ask about my scar so here is my story. It was in 1995 or 1996 or so. I remember the coolness of that evening. It had been a long day of not wanting to be in school and I was a struggling student in my early academic years. My older cousin was preparing to cook dinner and we were out of salt. Now bear in mind that this was many years ago for me so it may not have been salt, we may not have actually been walking to the market. My images of this event get more blurred over the years. She invited my sister to accompany her and I begged be taken along. I lied and told her my homework had been completed even though I can still clearly picture my open exercise book, red and blue lines left blank.
We approached Okigwe Road and I remember insisting that I cross the street alone. I wanted to be a big girl and was tired of people holding my hand. Some say that my cousin agreed to let me cross the busy main street and others say that I shook free from her grasp and ran across. Either way, there was always some tension between us over the years. Long story short, I did not make it to the other side of the street. A car ran me over and was unable to brake, dragging me down the street much to the dismay and cries of by-standers. Now any Nigerian loves a good event so even though my accident was a bit gruesome and tragic, I am fairly sure they were delighted to be given a new story to describe for the next week or so. People were said to have dashed out to the road and manually stop the car with their hands.
I do not remember any of it. And most of all, I do not remember pain. I woke up on a cold metal table and looked down at my utterly destroyed leg that had two metal braces through it. My father and mother were on my right side. My father was shaking his head and my mother was sobbing quietly. My father said that I had overheard them talking of amputating my leg but I had looked at him and said, "Daddy if you let them cut off my leg, I will kill myself." Not the typical statement a father hears from his six-year old. I still do not remember any pain.
I missed a great deal of school and back in the day, I wish my parent could have afforded the plastic surgery and the physical therapy. But I am extremely grateful. I have heard from and visited several plastic surgeons around the world and they all said the same thing: Your leg is fine the way it is. Nothing more than be done. Growing up in Nigeria with a scar which took up my entire leg since I was so little was no challenge to me. I had seen all sorts of disfigurements starting at a young age and I quickly learned that although children stare, so do adults. Everyone seemed to have a scar and I would often get exclamations while walking down the street,
"Ewoooo! My daughter! What happened to your leg? Chai! What a pity!"
You learn not to get offended by bluntness. I know what they meant so I was not hurt. But when I moved to the States, I suddenly became conscious of the mark on my leg. So I wore pants. For the first two years, I wore nothing but pants. But I got to college and I told myself that I could not go through my years hiding. I simply stopped caring. I stopped wondering about the scar and the fact that one leg is slightly smaller than the other. People still notice it. People still stare blatantly at it as I walk around. And yes, sometimes it still hurts. I still get annoyed when people stare at it repeatedly without asking. But I realized that my scar did not stop people from being attracted to me, that if I laughed about it, they would laugh with me and tell me to count my blessings. People ask to touch it when I tell them my story and I let them.
Simply put, I cannot change my scar. So I accept it. I love myself too much to be uncomfortable over something I have had for literally the majority of my life. Not accepting our scars is the same as not accepting our skin color to me. We would we deny something like that? It is embedded into your flesh. It decorates it and mine comes with color (the white in the scar). As human beings, we will always be self-conscious of ourselves be it our teeth, stretch marks, height, weight and so on. The way I see it, if there is NOTHING and I mean NOTHING, not a chance in hell that ANYTHING can be done to those insecurities, learn to love them because how you love yourself is a huge part of how others love YOU.
It is a journey my darlings so I know the difficulties. Take your time but still......tick tock.....time no go wait for you.