I am these words and let me tell you what else

I am those words you heard but refused to accept like the time Sister Margarite was told about her star pupil’s fraternization with the boys from across

I am those words you choked on like a piece of hot and succulent meat you swallowed too fast in those heady days of Christmas parties and matching cardigans

I am those words you waited for until your hair was as coarse as your aunt’s ‘revolutionary’ cushion covers that Mama used to store grain in

I am those words you said too hastily. They seemed to dart in and out of your mouth like the tongue of the python you beat into a bloody pulp one sunny Thursday afternoon

I am those words you rolled into curd and chewed like the drunken goat that chased children into an alley of breathless laughter

I am those words you heard but whose utterance you couldn’t fathom, so you tugged at your earlobe like your sister on the day she tried to pierce her ears with a dagger of a thorn

I am those words you practised all day, every day in your mind like the time Papa put up a tyre swing at the back of the house and you kept on falling off

I am those words you wrote down and crumpled into a furious ball like the day Mama had to make chapatis for twenty of Papa’s friends who ‘dropped by unexpectedly’

I am those words you whispered on balmy nights hoping they went unheard like the mumbling of that cousin that once overstayed her welcome at your house by six months

I am those words you spun in an elaborate pattern like the man who sold steaming cobs of maize right outside school enticing you with ‘extra pilipili for the pretty girl!’

I am those words that were drowned by the music like when you were learning to swim under water with your eyes open

I am the fork in the road that you must contemplate because I am in many ways, the blueprint of your history

I am these and those words that will and will not be birthed