Standing in front of my bedroom mirror, I quickly glanced at myself in the mirror and realized that my dress indeed was stunning. Well-tailored, perfect fit and the best part of all;
no need for another strenuous trip to my seamstress for any form of alteration. Smoothening my palms over my Ghanaian print fabric, I looked at the beautiful soft shade of royal blue with its exaggerated designs. The shade matched my skin colour excellently, with its added elegance of side pockets. Yes, my dress was nice! I smiled a victorious smile of satisfaction at the latest addition to my wardrobe.
“Mama, yourself is nice”, that was the soft voice of my 4-year-old daughter Naa. Still standing in front of the mirror of my bedroom I paused out of amazement yet wanting to know more about what my little one truly wanted to say. She tugged onto the hem of my dress and shyly shifted her way beside me. Quietly, she twirled her index finger around a loose braid hanging down her ear with a twinkle in her eyes. She gazed hard and strong at our reflections absorbing every detail her young mind could hold. She looked both fidgety and beautifully clumsy.
“Medase”, I replied with a long sigh in Twi and gave her a quick hug.
My heart couldn’t let the conversation rest. I needed to dig deeper into her thoughts, find out more on what she truly wanted to articulate but her 4-year-old tongue couldn’t.
“Naa, why do you say that?’’ I continued in Twi, kneeling beside her our eyes all this time fixed on our reflections in the mirror. Our glances deliberate and conscious.
“Mama, Grandma Taifa is a big mama, you are a small mama’’, she said thoughtfully with an air of secrecy at the belief of holding some piece of knowledge she alone was privy to. Giving her an approving nod, I beamed to myself.
“Mama, do you think I will be like you or Grandma Taifa when I become a mama?” she asked innocently.
Grandma Taifa is my mother-in-law. She can be described as a giant; big hips, big butt, thick boned, very tall. What we term in Ghana as “thick-tall”. Naa and her brother Nii have coined nicknames for their two grandmothers by virtue of the towns they reside in. Mine has been named Grandma Takoradi.
Her question struck me swiftly, it’s importance becoming all too clear. I sat down on the floor of the room my thoughts running with the speed of light. I gently pulled her onto my laps enveloping her with my arms. I connected and pulled “appropriate” words to my lips.
“Piesie, I don’t know”, I hushed with an assuring smile,” you could be small like me or big like Grandma Taifa”. I continued with purposeful pauses between words. Piesie being the pet Twi name for firstborns; a name I occasionally called her by. I had a million things all clouded in my mind but none could come out of me.
“Mama, it doesn’t matter if myself will be like you or Grandma Taifa because I know myself will be nice “, Naa whispered casually.
At that moment, I did not see a 4-year-old; I saw a sturdy, strong and powerful girl like the palm tree- who will be resilient to the many challenges of life. Slipping my hands through hers, I looked lovingly into her beautiful black eyes I squeezed her tight into a warm embrace my nostrils filling up with the strong smell of the shea butter and coconut oil cream in her hair, the sweet smell of the talcum powder fresh on her skin. Yes, that was my Naa! Silently I prayed. I hoped that this spirit of self-acceptance would never die in her. And the wave of pride that washed through me by her innocent declaration remains to me un-describable.