I write not because of a dream I long to see fulfilled, I write because it’s my lifeline.
Since I can remember, I was always silenced by people around me- people I looked up to. I remember mostly being silenced by patriarchal forces, men who felt the need- whether it be conscious or unconscious- to dictate and bulge their chests with authority. That was the rule of the house. Many families have many ways of disciplining their child, but coming from a Caribbean background a wooping was quite the norm. However, there were times when the beatings I took were unnecessary and the need to express myself as a child was taken away. Little did I know that it was the beginning of me losing my voice.
It was my journey to England that would see me holding my tongue in my hands with a yearning to speak but not knowing how to. It was only recently I began to talk again, full of anxiety because just as the child question, I wondered if the men in suits would believe me, if they would listen. It is still hard for me to share some of these experiences so I speak of them cryptically, like esoterics. Speaking them out loud seems as if it was not I who survived them, but someone else; I was only a witness.
He would stroke my leg and utter things that would confuse any child. He would see me in my most vulnerable and behind his eyes, in his thoughts he harboured a kind of poison so venomous and polluted that it would leave my body barren.
There are times I stare at myself in the mirror, my scars both visible and invisible equally staring back at me. It’s only of late that I’ve begun the process of learning to love them gently, and to speak to them with love because who else will? My body is the voice I lost, it’s my brokennes in pure art form. My body became a voice that screamed at every man that had bore witness to it…some with delight and some with disgust, but I forgive as only I understand the origins of their formation. The lack of vocal expression has left a little girl inside of me running riot, but I’m learning to listen to her, I’m learning to love her, I am learning to forgive her for becoming mute and being afraid of speaking her truth. I affirm it was not her fault. It was his. There are times when she comes out to play, to sing and dance and love..and it’s in loving her again that I realised.
All that we are never leaves us, it’s in looking deeply beyond the superficial that you find your voice in all the ways it needs to express itself. When you find it, cherish it and never let it be silenced. Your art is a means of survival.
Love Mama x