I have always had goosebumps every time I travelled upcountry heading home. This was probably because I did not fit in any environment. I was different, always had been. They all looked at me like some weird creep. This escalated when I got engaged. Early into my adulthood, I met this lady who blew my mind and soul away. She was beautiful, kind, compassionate, and intelligent just to mention a few of her best qualities. I loved everything about her except her fixation with tattoos which I later embraced. As they say, love conquers all. I was sceptical at first probably because I knew they wouldn’t accept her back at home and it broke my heart.
We had dated for close to 5 years now. She had been my shoulder to lean on through my best and worst moments. She was beside me while I struggled through job hunting after completing my undergrad. I finally landed a lucrative position in one of the national bank’s branches as a teller. She had been patient enough and I was going to take her home to meet my parents. She was the woman of my dreams and I was not going to hide this from my anyone including my parents anymore. I was tired of going home alone for Christmas and getting these glares that asked me, “when will ever marry?”
We boarded the bus heading home from the city. The journey normally took four hours and it did. But the tension and the virtual water filling my stomach gave me the illusion that the journey had only taken one and half hours or so. I respected my parents and perceived them to be my mini-gods. In my late-twenties, I should have been over this fear and began standing up to myself but my self-esteem development might have been delayed. I still cared too much about their perception of my life and everything about it. At the back of my mind, I knew that this would probably be the source of all my problems.
But this time should have been different. I was taking my better half home to introduce her to my parents. I was taking the mother to their future grandkids’ home to meet my people. She wore this cute blue floral dress. Yellow butterflies in aesthetic patterns were perfectly imprinted on the dress. It was neither too tight nor too loose for her. It complimented her body enough to command the air around her asserting her sophistication. With its length slightly below her knees, it was expected to leave a decent impression to everyone with whom she crossed paths.
Below her left collar bone was a butterfly tattoo and on her left leg close to the ankle was a rose. On her arm was a crucifix tattoo imprinted on her light skin. To her, these tattoos illustrated her passion for art. She was an artist and a very talented one for a fact. After moving in with me, she transformed our house completely with her aesthetic portraits. I loved how passionate she was about her work. Exploring the world beside her and viewing it through her artistic viewpoint had made me see and appreciate the beauty of life.
We alighted the bus and walked towards my parents’ compound. With every walk came a nostalgic memory about this place. I had grown up here which means I had close to twenty years of memories. They all came flooding into my mind and I couldn’t help but grin each time I looked around. I tried to share these memories with my lady briefly before we got home. My parents were expecting us. They had even gone to the trouble of inviting a few friends and family members. But things were about to take an unexpected turn.
After seeing us walk through the gate, five ululations filled the air. Their boy, now an elegant young man had returned home. There was so much joy in the air, well, until we got closer and they had a good look at my lady. She was elegant alright, but she had painted her body. The joyous mood gradually changed to one filled with tension. Their first impression was that of the typical society. My welcoming committee exchanged glances and murmured amongst themselves. My mother was heartbroken and it was written all over her sorrowful face.
They welcomed us alright but not the way I expected. Meals were served and we ate quietly. It was no longer a celebration but a moment of judgment. I would occasionally squeeze my lady’s hand reassuring her everything would work out. I did not believe this but I was not going to lose hope.
That evening as usual I accompanied my father to the farm where he inspected the state of coffee. We walked in silence for several minutes. Then he cleared his though and asked, “so this is the lady you have chosen?” to which I replied, “yes, she is.” A brief silence followed before he dryly said, “okay.” We inspected coffee randomly checking for ant infestations or coffee berry disease. Satisfied with everything, we walked back home silently.
At the time, my mother was preparing supper and I decided to give her company. It was our first day home so my parents did not expect us to help with anything. My lady had chosen to tidy up my dusty crib before taking a shower and joining us for supper. I, on the other hand, was a man on a mission to reduce the tension in our household. My mother, like all ladies, was good at multitasking. She scolded me while chopping vegetables then slicing chicken and cooking them all thereafter.
“Where did you meet this lady?” she asked. I shared with her the interesting story about how we met. She exhaled sharply and continue her interrogation. “At least she has been to campus. I thought she just come lady who trapped you in the city. What did she study at campus?” she continues. “Bachelor’s degree Art,” I answered. This continued to the better of the evening. I had told my mother about my lady when she had noticed and asked about the reason for my weight gain. To which I had naughtily answered, “someone has been cooking for me for a while now.”
But now she did not believe this lady could cook. She did not believe she could do any house chores. And she was not alone. The entire society judged my lady because she proudly wore her tattoos. They disregarded her character/personality and branded her because of her tattoos. Their judgmental glares itched our skin as I took my lady on a tour of our neighbourhood. We experienced so much hostility for the next few days but I hoped they would get used to it. But I soon realized it wasn’t.
My childhood friends invited me over for a chat. We had grown up together and only separated when I went to the university and later to the city to pursue my career. It was time to catch up and I gladly accepted the invitation. But it was not just general talk as usual. Instead, my friends had organized a ‘roast’ for me. Rumour had it that I had brought an escort home in the name of a fiancé. This kind of trash talk continued for a minute or so, as each person made what they believed to be sly comments. I had had enough.
I slowly got up and walked away leaving them laughing behind me. At this time, I was sure that I wasn’t going to take it anymore. I got home furious and bitter with society. How can people have such a shallow mind? How could they judge a person because of a tattoo? They did not give her a chance instead they were quick to judge and brand her. My two weeks holiday to relax and hand out with my family had turned out worse than I had ever expected. Instead of giving everyone a piece of my mind, I chose to stay silent and leave.
I was very disappointed with people for being so shallow. How could they decide someone was evil because of wearing a tattoo? We left for the city two days or rather five days after we have arrived. After getting to the city, I decided to pay attention to how people treated or responded to their counterparts with tattoos. Judgment in the city was not as intense in the village but a few people made mean comments about people, especially ladies who wore tattoos. I clicked on a few Instagram posts featuring tattooed ladies and checked the comments. Some shared admiration comments while others outrightly judged them for having tattoos. I found this preposterous.
What do you think about people who have tattoos? Do you judge them in a certain way and consider them different? Share your thoughts or experience in the comment section below and follow the discussion on our social media (Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook). Until next time, Adios.