Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Woman on the Bus

There was this woman on the bus. She had her son with her who was no more than six. Her skin was the color of brown silk - perfectly smooth, matte, unblemished and her eyes were like thin almonds, as though squinting, they tapered at each end and were accentuated with the most beautiful pair of folds at their ends that made them seem twice as long and gave her face a sense of endless serenity and wisdom. Her lips were full, sensual, accentuated by the slight protrusion of her jaws and her cheekbones were plump, sitting high under her eyes. She was beautiful.

With her hair covered by a simple black rag tied into a knot in the back, she wore a plain white collared shirt that must've been two sizes two big and grey sweatpants and by any white standard she was overweight. With no jewelry save a three stone band and no makeup, save lipgloss, she was still beautiful.

Even if dozens of generations removed, I had the image of this woman dressed in vivid kente cloth that may have been the uniform of her ancestors. I saw her belonging more elsewhere, than here, in Columbus, riding the bus with me and dozens others and her son.

"You gotta eat vegetables to be strong." she told him "Don't you want to be strong?" she asked and struck a bodybuilding pose. "Nuh-uh" was his expected bratty response to which she laughed, pulled him close and kissed him on the forehead. Such a simple exchange, but one that had the full potential of melting glaciers, steel and any other thing in sight. The warmth was palpable and the amount of love pouring out of this woman was overwhelming. Now, to remove an eyelash from her eye she closed her eyes, leaned forward and had him pull open her lids slightly and blow right on it. Not producing the desired effect, she laughed again, rubbing her eye, saying "You're supposed to get it out, not blow it back in!" She had him do it again, more gently. "There you go." Another hug, another kiss.

I could not help but think of myself with my mother when I was that age. We rode the bus back then too - could we have had a similar exchange? In a different place, and time, with different words, but with the same emotions. The thought was almost overwhelming.

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