Evelyn had her first experience yesterday. So today, when Besse visited- her smallish form propped up on a St. Luke’s bed- she had peered into her mother’s face- worry creases splayed up on her tender brows- and asked that same question Besse had asked her own mother, Evelyn’s grand-mother, when she was barely eight, twenty-three years ago;
“Mommy, will it heal? Will there be a scar?”.
Evelyn is almost four and her skin is still soft and supple; Besse is thirty one now and as she looked back at her daughter, gazing intently at the blistered part of her left cheek and neck, a scald caused by the hot water she accidentally splashed on herself, the mother began to doubt whether the daughter’s face will truly heal without leaving a scar behind.
The doctor had said it was a superficial second degree burn and assured her that Evelyn will heal within few weeks and that the scald will leave no permanent scar. The mother could only hope he was right and though she entertained doubts, she heard herself say:
“It will heal, dear and I’m sure you’ll be as smooth and beautiful as you were before”.
Usually, wounds do not heal out all smoothly, but her daughter’s fears had to be allayed. Her hopes had to be affirmed. She needed to be told that a scald will not leave any scar on her. There are more responsibilities attached to these affirmation of hopes. Besse had to ensure that a second degree burn left no scar on her beautiful daughter’s face, no matter the cost.
As Besse sat at the edge of her daughter’s hospital bed, recollections and reminiscence washed over her like a shower of cold water. Goose- bumps followed on its wake as she remembered a story told to her by an acquaintance about a friend’s daughter- a teenager- whose face was bathed with concentrated sulphuric acid as a result of hand-wrenchings and boy-friend struggles. Her assailant as well as the boyfriend she got maimed for had taken to flight immediately after. The story-teller had taken pains to describe the contorted amoebic boll that became the girl’s face when she was eventually discharged from the hospice she had been rushed to. Her poor parents couldn’t afford reconstructive surgery; so, thus went her beauty and ambitions. Acids too burn and leave scars; but all scars do not come from physical burns and scalds alone. Scars come from various other things.
Besse had scars too and it came neither from fire, water nor such things.
Below her waist lay an orifice scar that came with an awakening at age eight, from the maiden circumcision- blade. She is one of the lucky ones who came out from the fattening rooms with a mere sore and ask her mother- Evelyn’s grand-mother if it will heal and whether a scar will be left behind. She came out with an ever present obesity. Some others never came out to live normal lives. Their sores turned fistulas and thus, their womanhood ruined, they’ve been left to waste away in VVF hospitals- passing water and feaces from one big mutilated hole. From their generation, Besse and some few others are the ones that bear the scars of the incision. The unlucky ones have no scars- for their wounds never healed. So, she promised herself that Evelyn will never be scarified in such manner.
“If my daughter came with a full bouquet of roses, none of her petals shall be clipped. She shall come out to the world, proud of her fullness”, Besse had sworn to herself. She also promised to absolve her daughter of other scars; more especially, the ones she could tell.
One cannot tell of all things that leave scars- the broken heart or the bullet wound- but Besse knew that memories leave scars too. Fond Memories are a blessing. Painful memories leave thick scars. In this again, She is a victim.
Before Evelyn came to be- a child who has never met her father- Besse had a man, a bed, sex, a couple of months in-between and a bulging tummy. In between these months, challenges popped up: nausea, a near- expired rent and ante-natals.
Then things started vanishing in reverse order- first, the sex, then the bed and finally the man. The man had to be found. Providing the bed or sex-as the doctor prescribed- to widen up the fetus’ birth passage- was not paramount on her mind; Catering for her protruding tummy was. Eventually the son-of-a-bitch was traced to a home, at home with a wife and four kids. Besse packed in immediately. The wife had threatened fire and brimstone and on the seventh month of the pregnancy- a week before Evelyn was born- she had driven her threats home by beating the heavily pregnant Besse senseless. When Besse woke up on a bed in the labour ward of same St. Luke’s with induced labour pains and no man besides her, she had resolved there was no point making her daughter meet a father who didn’t care about her. She doesn’t need to share the memories that scarifies her mother’s heart- even when it involves the very delicate issue of concealing her paternity. Abandonment leaves scars. The memory of being abandoned- together with her daughter- by a man who was supposed to be there is the wound that left the biggest scar in her. These are Besse’s memories- so she keeps them to herself. There are her scars, not her daughter’s.
Scars come from painful memories. While Besse has been lucky not to wear the markings of abuse, the memories of rape or the cuts of child labour; she still imagines and knows how it would feel.
Scars are the coats spread over deep and painful emotional and psychological blisters. Some are mere coverings over wounds that will never really heal. Beneath them, lies festering sores which oozes beyond redemption. Deep oozing sores.
“The deeper the cut, the bigger the scar”, it is often said.
Yet, humanity must learn to brush over and dust its scars. Let these scars be seen as beauty marks that make humans who they are- distinct individuals that have learned from various bitter experiences.
Be it those from hot water- like Evelyn’s or acid-bathes; though it be in the hearts or on bosoms; let the pains that these scars bring be transformed into life lessons that can be taught to the world.
Let the stories told of them show the strengths that humans possess to heal the festering wounds that are hid beneath the scars.
The deeper the cut, the bigger the scars.
Let’s show the magnitude of our hurts by the sizes of our rebounds. Let’s commit to make something beautiful out of ugly situations; so our wounds will heal us and the world we live in.
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