Monthly Archives: February 2014

Love your perfect imperfections: Part 2

I was elated; my friend had just complimented me; I looked amazing. Even though he was just a friend, his words seemed to impact my life greatly. And now that I had his validation I felt great. I was doing things right. That got me all psyched up; I maintained my low carbs diet and intense work outs. When I looked at myself in the mirror I loved what I saw. My curves were just how I wanted them. I was thrilled.

A few weeks after that night, mom sized me up as I set the table for dinner. “You’re slimming,” she remarked. I had noticed it but somehow I didn’t want to admit it to myself.

“No, it’s because I’m in baggy pants.”

“I know the pants don’t particularly fit but I’m telling you, you’ve lost weight,” she insisted. “It must be the intense work outs you’ve been doing lately.”

I didn’t want to argue with her. I just went to my bedroom and stood in front of the closet mirror. I tried outfit after outfit, to see if what mom had said was right. My clothes fit, but I could see there were some unfilled spaces that were once filled. But even as I looked into the mirror I didn’t want to admit what was right in front of me; I was slimming. Given that I was still petite, it meant that if I lost any extra weight I would appear unhealthy. I had just come out of a phase where I’d lost so much weight because I had been straining too much at a job I had, which had led me to quit after realizing I’d started feeling weak.

I couldn’t imagine dragging myself back to that phase consciously. Whenever I bumped into friends on the streets they would look at me like I was sick. I was too skinny. At the time I hadn’t met my skating buddies. We only met later after I had quit my job and had put on some pounds.

That night when I looked at myself in the mirror and realized mom was indeed right, I made a choice. I could opt to slim to please my friends, or I could just be my real curvy self. I opted for the latter. I would be myself. Whoever wanted to be in my life would have to accept me for me; with all my perfect imperfections.

Beauty is more than just the outside appearance. I learnt that ages ago when I was still a kid. I wasn’t about to let people I considered my friends dictate the life I lived. If they wanted to be my friends they would have to let me be the person I wanted to be, and slim wasn’t it.

Around that same time I found myself too busy with school work; I didn’t have much time for hanging out with my friends. When I was free they weren’t and when they were I was tied up with something. Sometimes though, I felt like I was deliberately avoiding them. Months later, last year, one of my skating buddies and his family moved. I was devastated, because somehow I liked him more. He appeared to be the head of the team, even though no one had officially appointed him. He was just cool like that. In my opinion he was the skater with the coolest moves.

That same day I found out they had moved, I called my other friend to check if he knew as he’d been out of town for the past few months. He didn’t seem to know. While we were talking I asked him if he’d be signing up for a skating competition that was being held in a few weeks’ time. He hadn’t heard about it so I sent him the link. Before we hang up he asked how I was doing and I told him I was great even though I was still feeling bereft after learning our friend had moved.

“I know you’ve put on weight,” he teased. I just gave him a mirthless laugh. I didn’t confirm or deny it. He said he would let me know when he was back home. When I hang up, my thoughts lingered on his words. ‘I know you’ve put on weight.’  I realized he was just a vain guy, fixated on my weight. I wasn’t going to live a miserable life trying to please someone who couldn’t see past my flesh. That day something inside of me died; the desire I had to be validated by my friends.

I decided I wouldn’t let them call the shots. It was my life, my rules. If they thought I wasn’t good enough to be their friend just because I wasn’t slim, then I had no business trying to force myself on them. I wouldn’t live a dejected life trying to live up to the expectations of men who had a twisted notion of the essence of true beauty; flawed men who thought they knew what true beauty was.

John Legend’s song stirred something deep inside of me.

Cause all of me

Loves all of you

Loves your curves and all of your edges

All your perfect imperfections

If someone loves you for real, they will love you for you; with your perfect imperfections; without trying to change you into what/who they want you to be.

Love your perfect imperfections

Have you listened to John Legend’s song, All of me?

Cause all of me

Loves all of you

Loves your curves and all of your edges

All your perfect imperfections

Give your all to me

I’ll give my all to you

You’re my end and my beginning

Even when I’m losing I’m winning

Cause I give you all of me

And you give me all of you.

The lyrics above are the chorus to his beautiful song. I’ve listened to the song a couple of times before, but last night as I listened to it, it took me back in time; to the year 2012.

It was a warm, sunny afternoon. I had called one of my skating buddies to come help me fix my skates. The wheels had worn off and I needed to get them replaced. It was a few weeks after the Christmas holiday. He had travelled; ergo we hadn’t been seeing much of each other for a while. As he unscrewed the old wheels off, replacing them with the new ones I just watched, listening to him give a detailed account of how he’d spent the holidays.

When all the eight wheels were in place he gave me the skates back so I could try them out. Gladly, I put them on and rolled on the spacious car pack outside my house. He hadn’t brought his skates so he just watched as I did my rounds. A short while later I went back and sat next to him, pulling them off. I asked if he wanted to ‘test’ them and he was only too glad.

“You’ve gained some weight,” he noted.

“Yeah,” I grinned.

“If you get bigger than that we’re ditching you,” he teased, referring to the other guys we skated with. I only laughed in response.  That day we didn’t skate much; we just talked, catching up on the days we’d spent apart.

After that day I became so cautious how I ate. I’d make sure the servings weren’t too large, just so I wouldn’t gain weight. Then I started working out more to ensure I burned any excess calories. One Saturday mom saw the food in my plate while having dinner and she commented on how little it was.

“My friends said they’d ditch me if I put on more weight,” I laughed. She laughed too because it sounded funny.

Days later, on a Sunday evening I bumped into that same guy while I was going to buy groceries and seeming awestruck he told me how great I looked. “But your stomach’s a bit big. Or you’ve just eaten?” He asked lightheartedly. The worst part is he always made his comments blithely, so I always took them as that, jokes; only that later, when I was alone the same words would come back to haunt me, making me feel like I needed to try harder to get their approval.

Everytime I ate, my friend’s words would ring in my head and that made me avoid large servings; I didn’t want to lose my friends because of something I could avoid. It all turned out fine. For a while at least.

One Saturday while out skating at night, we went to some nearby bar to get some beer. The guys were having a house party. We waited while two guys went in to purchase the drinks. As we waited outside at the parking, my friend rolled in his skates up to where I was standing and he went on and on about how good I looked. “Skating should be made mandatory for girls,” he said, “It’s the quickest way to slim.”

His compliments made me feel good and bad at the same time. Good because he acknowledged I looked amazing and bad because he made such a big deal out of my body size. It’s like my size would affect his life. Later, he escorted me back to my house. We sat on the front porch, talking, and since I was getting into the house I took the skates off. Normally, he’s not that taller than me but because he was in skates and I wasn’t, he appeared much taller that night.

When he stood to leave he grabbed my waist, pulling me to him. “You look amazing,” he told me. “Don’t change.” I flung my arms around his neck, in a goodbye embrace. His house was in the next court, which was just a few minutes away. He wasn’t my boyfriend really, it’s just that he was closer to me than the others; earlier, before we went to the bar we had sat down on a curb to catch our breath after speed skating for miles non-stop. He had asked why I refused to be his girlfriend when he proposed some months before but I didn’t tell him why. I didn’t think we were compatible as a couple. My female instincts told me we were better suited as friends.

I watched him roll away in his rollerblades and I carried mine to the house, my lips curved in a smile. It had been a lovely night.

Vengeance vs. Humanity

Last Saturday I watched something on the news that really stirred my thoughts. I don’t know what to make of the whole scenario until now but one thing’s a surety; it left me deeply tormented.  See there was this guy who had allegedly confessed to murder. He was also said to have been involved in some rape cases. After reporting the matter to the authorities and being subsequently ignored, the residents got tired and decided to take matters into their own hands. They cornered the suspect and decided to lynch him in broad daylight.

In anger, the residents doused him in gas and set him ablaze. I don’t know how on earth he managed, but the lucky guy escaped the angry mob. By then he had already been severely burnt. He had huge pink patches, where the skin had peeled off. I had trouble looking at the images and what made it even worse was seeing him begging people to take him to hospital as he was in so much pain. There wasn’t a tear drop on his face, but I could feel his pain.

Passers-by watched him walk under the blistering sun and no one offered to help. Bravely, he walked three kilometers, shoulders slouched, I imagine from all the pain, clothed only in a pair of black slacks. I watched as cars passed by and not even a single driver offered to rush him to hospital. Finally, I would say by God’s grace, he made it to hospital. On arrival the first thing he asked for was water and everyone around him just watched. Not even the nurses at the main desk felt moved by his agonizing state. I don’t know if anyone brought him water, but they said he was admitted there.

That clip gave me so much to think about: Firstly, I wondered where the police were by the time the residents decided to punish the guy for his sins. I imagined, if they had nabbed him they would have prevented the man from suffering, what I term a living hell; he tasted the fierce fires before dying.  Secondly, wasn’t there a Good Samaritan who could have offered to take him to hospital? I can vividly see the long strings of flesh dangling from his body as he walked to hospital. There’s just nothing fun about it; it made all the horror movies I’ve watched feel like heaven. I guess it’s because at the back of my head I knew there weren’t any scripts, cameras and lights; it was all real.

However, in my own head I still figured, people were still furious at him for all the atrocities he had committed. I could only imagine what the families of his rape and murder victims felt. Looking at it from that perspective I feel he was even lucky to have made it out alive because it’s clear the mob was bent on killing him. The reporters described it as ‘nine lives’; couldn’t agree more. So as much as I want to fault the residents for not rushing him to hospital, a part of me understands why no one felt kind enough to save the life of a man who had hurt/taken their own.

On the same point I also figured, someone might have offered to help him out, but if indeed the suspect’s a true leopard, never changing its spots and all, I imagined once he was better he would go back to avenge himself. So again, the residents would be in trouble. Up until now I haven’t been able to push the images out of my head; it was just horrifying. As the clip was being played some parts of his back were blurred and I would presume it was to protect viewers from the gory images.

I understood the residents felt let down by the authorities for not dealing with the suspect and that had obviously pushed them into attempting to lynch the man. That however, didn’t stop me from wondering what God thought of the whole scenario. He says, “Vengeance is mine.” So does He understand why the residents attacked the man? Will He pardon them for trying to take a man’s life, as guilty as he was? Will He understand all the passers-by who saw the man walking in the sun with serious burns and failed to help him?

What would Jesus have done?

Based on all the teachings from the bible, I imagine He would have suggested the man be taken to hospital and when he was much better he would have been handed over to the police. But that still makes me wonder, would there have been a person brave and kind enough to help the same man who had subjected them to so much misery? Killing and raping their loved ones?

After trying to make sense of the whole scenario, I finally came to the million dollar question: When all that was happening, where was God? He was watching, that entire time. I’ve learnt that He doesn’t interfere with people’s choices; He’ll guide, through the conscience-that small voice in our heads-but he doesn’t force His will on us. So chances are, the residents will have their own cases to answer; and about the guy, I just figured, God let him get set on fire and He still didn’t let him die.

If the guy had died, he wouldn’t have suffered as much as he did; but then, he wouldn’t have had the chance to repent. God gave him a second chance; if he survives, he will have the scars to remind him of his past iniquities. He can choose to be changed by his painful experience, or become a worse villain, seeking only vengeance.

That story made me think a lot; about humanity being challenged by the need for vengeance. It appears the lines become blurry, where one has to be compassionate towards those who cause them harm.