Misplaced

He asked me why I believed I was African
With my Russian red lips, Indian hair and lost accent
He asked how many African languages I spoke
He asked if my hair grew out, why I needed extensions
He asked me to explain some of the dialects I understood
He asked to see my kitchen,
the grinding stone, mortars and wooden pestles
He asked how my food tasted
How easy it was to digest

I looked at this strange man,
He must be some kind of sage
What spirits told him the truth
About the emptiness beneath my blue contacts
As though he saw the dark wilderness that is my skin
What could I answer this man
How could he know I have no identity?
I speak English and nothing more?
My kitchen is empty of yams and meat
I eat only vegan food,
Fear of weight gain, buys my groceries

I left the man unanswered and I, ashamed
I prayed for night where I blended into darkness
The darkness of the night which brings me answers
I didn’t even close my eyes before the answers poured in
I wish the hours could rewind, I had my answer
I would reply with what I learnt from history lessons
About slave ships and scramble for nations
How history remained scarred to my identity
How his questions could not fix years of repression
Heck I would reply with my morning rituals
How my garnier face wash doesn’t wash the earth off my skin
How the tomatoes for breakfast didn’t mar my identity
I would tell him how no matter what one cannot change the past
How trees never grow back into the ground.

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