Rude Awakening

by Tiredblackgirl

Curved like a goddess with glowing dark skin and captivating enormous eyes; anyone who crossed paths with her always complimented Nana. Moving to a city she barely knew, she had to stay with her cousin; miles away from the town Centre.

Nana was adamant about making a life for herself; she persistently secured a job interview despite her minimal work experience. The prospect of having a job was exhilarating.

Nana had to go to a job interview in a town that she barely knew as her cousin had some preoccupations of her own, which meant she had to go alone. This made her anxious; she was determined to make it to the interview.

Nana had her big day all planned out. She ironed her outfit, painted her nails to match her clothes, and stayed up preparing for the interview. She watched some videos to boost her confidence in coffee making and latte art. She also intended to take advantage of the opportunity to explore the city afterward.

She woke up early that day. She could not wait for the day to begin as it was filled with the excitement of exploring her new city later; she felt prepared and ready. With a forty minutes journey to go, she sat peacefully at the back of the bus, amazed as the bus cruised through bustling streets that had corner shops and a bus stop every few minutes along the way.

She was astonished by the organisation of the bus system:

"This is so interesting" she whispered to herself.

Nana is not used to this system; this process was a lot simpler and calmer, and she could not help but compare it with the system in her country. She recollected the chaotic madness that it was. They had overused, worn-out minivans that were sometimes even dangerous. She remembered how the poda-poda (as we call them locally) usually had worn-out seats, but even seats were a luxury some of them can't afford so they would replace them with benches built by local carpenters instead. Moreover, there were no options for paying. Unlike the bus she was on, everyone had to pay cash to the driver's apprentice.

Giggling to herself, she lucidly recalled those moments that her friends and her would-be queuing for the poda-podas to school. Especially during rush hour where they would wrestle their way into a poda-poda. She could not help but think about one specific event, where a schoolboy tore a friend's uniform during one of these scuffles. The boy was furious at her friend for pushing him and taking the last seat; he grabbed her dress as she climbed on which tore the fragile material apart. Jane had swollen eyes from crying about the ragged clothing, and this made everyone teased her even more. Her mind sure traveled further than the forty minutes bus journey; despite all of that, Nana was still very aware of her trip.

While gazing out of the window, Nana noticed how similar and impressive the architecture looked: "why are all the buildings similar", she wondered. She then stared at the traffic lights and pondered about who or what was controlling them.

Suddenly, the bus was slowing down, stationing at its destination, Nana got off the bus already thinking about how she will reach the interview location. She had more walking to do before she got to her destination. With time not on her side, Nana panicked that she might arrive late. This is not how she planned it. She gave enough time for everything. She felt nothing but disappointment:

"it wasn't supposed to be like this," she said out loud.

The nerves she calmed last night were rushing through her. She looked at the time, and Nana accepted the fact that she will be late, but her confidence was still high.

As much as the previous incident did not phase her, it was nonetheless traumatic enough to affect her performance at the interview. She could still remember the vicious look of that woman and everything she said about "Nana's kind". The stranger's words had cut her like a knife. She could still see the angry flushed face and the finger she waved at her before she screamed

"your kind does not talk to me. Your kind should not speak to me" and ordered Nana to step away from her as she froze at the woman's attack. It left Nana baffled as to why the woman would be upset just because she stopped her to ask for directions. It was a mystery to Nana.

Later that evening on the bus ride back, all the pieces fell into place. It finally made sense to her. How she was perceived by that stranger based on her skin and accent. She understood then. Her" kind" was indeed far away from home, her "kind" was a Mandinka girl from Guinea. Her" kind" was a girl who has only been to two African countries and felt like she lacked knowledge about the continent she called home, but now she faced a RUDE AWAKENING from a stranger in a white foreign country.

From then on, a horrible reality dawned on her. In the western world, she was first Black, then a foreigner, then Nana.

Umu Bah

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