Belinda is the title character and antagonist of Belinda, a sequel I watched years ago. I was just a decade old. I have watched many movies but this particular one made an indelible mark in my life…every so often I find myself referring to it sub-consciously…

Belinda was a young girl, fresh from high school. She found herself walking the corridors of a prestigious college located in the central business district. She grew up in the countryside. When she came to the city she was flustered; things were so different from the life she had lived until then; her college mates drove expensive cars and donned designer clothes.

This life overwhelmed her. She wanted to dress like them; she desired to ride the cars they did… but she was as impecunious as they came; however, she didn’t spend many nights tossing and turning in bed, just like Cinderella, her ‘godmother’ came to her rescue.

Some friends showed her how to manoeuvre past the tough times; they introduced her to some male clients who solicited sex. Before long, naïve Belinda was queen bee…guys were eating from her palms; they were devouring her with their eyes and the girls wanted to be her. She reveled in the grandeur.

“How come your mom never visits you Belinda?” her friends would ask.

“My mom is a model in Paris”. Belinda would gloat. At the time I must have been living in a cave, because I didn’t know what a model was; I hadn’t been introduced to the stunning ‘walking hangers’ strutting their stuff on international runways. The statue of lady liberty would pop in my head. I wondered how one’s mom would be a statue…

Belinda’s lavish lifestyle came with baggage. She became the star and took center stage; everyone wanted to be made privy to the piddling details of her life. So she lied, and before long she had woven a thick web of lies around herself. It was bound to break at some point; even she knew that.

That day ultimately came; her mother travelled from upcountry to visit her only daughter in school. She carried a basket of homemade foods. When she walked in the school, the teachers received her warmly…until she ‘claimed’ to be Belinda’s mother. The teachers looked confused; they all knew Belinda, and the drab woman dressed shabbily, standing in front of them looked nothing like the ‘model’ Belinda talked about so passionately.

They had no choice but to call Belinda.

When she got to the visitor’s lounge she saw the elderly woman, who by now had the school talking. Belinda was in a fix; the sandcastle she had painstakingly built by the beach was crumbling; everyone was watching, and there was nothing she could do. The inevitable wave had finally caught up with her.

Her mom was delighted to see her; oblivious to what was happening. “My daughter”, she opened her arms wide to receive Belinda in her warm motherly embrace.

But her steps were halted by Belinda’s scoff, “Who are you?”

Her mom stared at her, bewildered. “Belinda, I’m your mother”. The crowd that had gathered was now gripped in condescending chuckles.

“I don’t know you, my mother is in Paris”, she retorted angrily.

Her mother couldn’t believe it. “But my daughter”, she cried. “Belinda!” The poor woman broke down in tears, before collapsing… she succumbed to cardiac arrest.

True to the adage, ‘blood is thicker than water’, Belinda’s bloated ego deflated as she went down on her knees, kneeling by her mother’s side, tears rolling down her face. “Mother don’t leave me. I’m sorry”. But it was too late. Her tears were not going to bring her the woman she had blatantly rejected back.

The crowd behind her was now laughing, mocking, pointing fingers at her, but none of that bothered her. There lay the lifeless body of her mother; she had sent her to her grave prematurely. Her mother was innocent, all she had done was work diligently, so she could offer her the best she could; but in return she had rejected her unequivocally.

If only she could take her words back; if only she could get the chance to do things over again; she would let the whole world know she was her mother. She wished…

Belinda opened my eyes; the larger society glorifies materialism; beauty and money are the tickets to prosperity. She taught me a life lesson; one can’t afford to look down on people because they don’t meet their standards.

Sometimes I find myself at a cross-road, where I have to embody Belinda, or be the better person. Such situations feel daunting…

A few years ago I was in a similar situation. I had just turned nineteen. An aunt had called to say she would be visiting from upcountry. I was excited.

My mom would be leaving for work, my big sister had morning classes and I was still taking my time off from books after clearing from high school; my baby sister was still away in school. That automatically meant I would be the one to pick her from the bus stop. I didn’t mind it, hosting visitors is something I’ve always loved…

The next day, I left home early to go pick my aunt. I had left early to allow time for the morning traffic. It had been five years since I had last seen her. I was even afraid I wouldn’t be able to recognize her or maybe it would be vice versa; maybe she wouldn’t recognize me.

There wasn’t much traffic, so I got there earlier than I had anticipated. I waited, watching out closely for any bus that pulled up. I couldn’t risk missing her. After what I considered a long wait, I saw her alighting from the bus that had just arrived. But she wasn’t alone. She was in the company of her daughter-a cousin I’d last seen when I was five-we were both babies- and her elder brother that I had never laid my eyes on. That is what happens when people fail to keep in touch…

My, now grown, cousin had never been in the capital before…she looked mesmerized by the towering skyscrapers. She was apparently oblivious to the uneasy state she had unintentionally put me in. she was in a pair of jungle green linen pants that looked a size smaller and a matching top. Her short hair was bunched up in unkempt pigtails and to complete that look she was in black closed shoes, which had gathered dust during their journey.

As I drew closer to them, I found myself befuddled. I hadn’t given thought to what they would be wearing, but as they stood there right in front of me, I realized I wasn’t comfortable with it. “What will people think?” I hated myself for thinking that, but that is what I felt…but then I remembered BELINDA! Without further ado I held out my hands and hugged them.

At the back of my head there were those unsettling thoughts pounding incessantly…”What will the neighbours say? They will see them, and they will tease, they will talk…” but I didn’t care anymore; they were noble human beings; they were my family. It didn’t matter if they came dressed in rags; it didn’t matter if the whole world laughed or teased…Belinda had taught me better; she had taught me to look at the bigger picture; to ask, “What is the right thing to do?” As opposed to asking “What will people think?”



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