Memories floating around like clouds in the sky. I felt my childhood pass me by with nothing but pictures reminding me of an opportunity so profoundly missed. My father would always say to me “Annie nothing is more important in your life than culture” it becomes almost an alarm clock, its reverberations resounding loud enough for me to hear, though tiring to bear. Why should I learn about my cultural background? What good would it do? What use is it to me now? I thought it to be a complete joke, but the joke however was on me.
Cultural day in year 7 Tayler’s Lakes Secondary College created an nvironment where everyone can express their ideas and feel that they are valued. My school has always made this day out to be a pivotal ceremony within the school, something of most profound importance. I thought it to be a complete waste of time. It was my turn to stand up in front of everyone and tell them a bit about my family’s lineage. Looking at everyone peering at me, their eyes sparked with interest, mine dimmed with a lack of concern. That’s when I knew. I was trapped in no man’s land, a prisoner to something larger than myself.
I knew nothing but my family’s name. I find myself quivering, my shirt sweated through, each hair on my body standing on end, why do I know nothing at all? When my parents passed away earlier that year, I was left not only physically deprived but also emotionally. Their remnants were conflicted emotions, mostly sadness, rage and regret in my mind, forcing me to recall their prior existence in each waking moment of my days, and each sleeping moment of my nights. The lectures of my father that ticked in my head, were now permanently out of reach.
Ironically the absence of the voice of my father served to be my enultimate wakeup call; the call that I should have finally listened too. After all these years of turning a blind eye, forcing my ears into a state of deafness, I finally forced them both open. Though open there was nothing to enter, an abyss whose existence was more significant than its prior absence. With no one to tell me who I am, where it is that I once emerged from, I’m left with profound unknowing, I did not know, and now I can’t know. I did not care to know, but now I do.
My life is physically progressing like it should, each of the clogs in the machine working to no end. But there is still this absence deep within me, a lack of authenticity forcing recollection of my missed opportunity to understand who it is that I truly am. The very thought is felt in the drying paths of tears past and present, my eyes clouded by the darkness of shadows forcing a sense of blindness onto me, though I so desperately want to see. I feel trapped like a mouse in a maze with neither entry nor exit, but unlike the mouse I’m aware of this perpetual phenomena, aware that with neither entry nor exit I am forever stuck.
The maze was guilt, a guilt so inescapable that I feel it run through y veins more prominently than blood. Pictures serve as a constant reminder of my entrapment, forcing thoughts of opportunities taken, and opportunities missed. I cling onto them nonetheless, plastering them all over the walls of my room, until no inch of brick can seep through. I lay in bed, sheets perfectly laundered, cushions ever so soft, but neither serves as the balm that I need. I try to stop tossing and turning, but not even counting sheep can save me now, thoughts of my parents saturate all else, rendering it peripheral to the more deeply seeded thoughts of my loss.
I take courses at my local TAFE on the history and culture of Sierra Leone though it is all a far off joke, I need more than textbook facts and statistics. The photographs are the only portal to an authentic understanding of my past and I hope they’ll allow for a more concrete understanding of my present and my future. The only way to ever find myself was to get lost and to take steps alone. Now that my parents have passed away I have stumbled so many times but I knew I had to pick myself back up. I now know I must go on adventures to find out where I belong and where am going.
I’m outspoken but not outspoken about my culture which I thought was odd. I’m educated however not educated in my culture. I use to always bicker with my parents about the lifestyle choices I had made about me not knowing of where I am from in which I thought was no use for me, but now I know that I was wrong. I now know that if u don’t have culture u really don’t have anything and you don’t really fit in a society. It was independences day and which they celebrated with a party in which I attended; I needed to know, to prove that I could answer questions that need to be answered about my culture.
The organizers brought in this lady who was as thin as a rake but her hair was flowed over her shoulders like a waterfall over rocks. She came in to tell us about our cultural background. She fascinated me with all these tales and as they further unfolded my knowledge enhanced dramatically, yes, my moral though dissipated beyond repair. Who is this lady to be telling me who I am, I thought? My parents were there to do that for me; however they are not here anymore. My ears were there to listen, but they didn’t want to hear it. However my mind was also there to block both of them out simultaneously.
Ignorant is bliss in most cases. In this one it’s downright humiliating. Wrapping up her lecture, I realised that she had finally been alone. Away from the piercing eyes of the ignorant minds at the lecture. I closed in on her space. This was it perhaps. Walking towards her with determination I was going to let her hear it, who is this lady to proudly pontificate with such big headedness as if this was only just a job to her. The ramifications of this lectures beared no repercussions to her. That’s when I had an epiphany. This is only just a job to her. She’s not in From Sierra
Leone. I from Sierra Leone. I was the one who neglected the free teachings and lectures from my caring parents. I was the self-righteous egotistical “westernised” girl who outgrew her own traditions and linage in order to fit in to a new system. I forget the most integral aspect of merging into a new system. My parents achieved that. It’s true you can’t stand still and must get with times in order to see progress but without our past no one really has a present or a future so to speak. We must embrace our roots coupled with our future to find ourselves.