Memoirs of a Bag Lady

by Soyini Denise Liburd

The bible says that Job didn’t curse the Lord. Instead he cursed the day that brought his existence and offered it to the world. I never had the courage to regret life, but I screamed at God with all my might everytime life broke my heart … which was often. I was born to share and nurture, but was brought up in a cruel mockery of loneliness where I had only my thoughts for company. These thoughts hurled accusations at the looming figures of my early life: “Father, you left me! Mother, you didn’t love me! You forced on me the pain and responsibilities of adulthood before I was even sure how to be a child!” Despite their power against loneliness, I shake these thoughts away from me. Useless. Blame is useless and powerless to right the consequences left by violators. So I ignore thoughts that scream for justice. They have long ceased to bring me comfort, rebellious aspiration or even the understanding from which could spring self-love. Still these thoughts linger, and every once in a while, beg release through creative expression. So I write.

In a world of relationships, I am alone. People see me from the outside, I see me from the inside – I have never been able to reconcile these two views, and neither have they. Two weeks ago, at 20 years old, I lost the courage to attempt reconciliation with the world. Too much of myself is left with strangers. Now, I have nothing left to console me when anguish visits. Still I weep silently, a relic of the days when I had inside me, things that could be lost or taken. Now there is only emptiness. Still, I weep silently.

Somewhere in my vast emptiness, hope flickers ... not dead, but very faint. I was born to love, hope was supposed to be my strength. However my derelict soul has no use for such a lying mockery. Hope is crueler than anything, because everyday it reminds me that I am forced to live outside my destiny. Nights of hope led me to try: my love intermingling with his lust, painting murals of lies, rejection and condemnation on the walls of my existence. These paintings are ugly in the sunlight. It hurts that this ugliness belongs to me. These paintings do not fade. Through them I remember what it felt like; to be confused by my failures, scorned for the deepness of my love, mocked and refused in every direction that I sought for protection. Let it be that way then. 6 years ago a 14 year old girl decided that mocking family and treacherous mentors were best avoided. She built a sanctuary in herself that has become increasingly comfortable over the years.

Of course I do not just sit here and brood. Alone in the strong sanctuary of my spirit; I have discovered pleasures, insignificant enough that no one has yet moved to take them from me. My mind excels at the Country’s best university; I challenge science by day and rest in the arts by night. My talents hover near me courting me with journals of poetry and music. My face and body continues to cause admiration to spill from lips – though I dare not drink these for fear of poison. I exist and even succeed by the world’s standards, I will have money and legacy and all the inconsequential things I have never and will never ask for. Mockery of the dead requests of my childhood: Love, Friendship, and Truth for my own.

I do not know whether I still seek these things or not. I allow my eyes to stray, perhaps in search. But my conscious has disowned hope. Instead I love what is before me now, those ignored by the world. The innocent, the children whose eyes say they have found my past. I pray with them that they might escape my present. I love the destitute, the hopeless... I spend my afternoons in shelters. Mocking the world by giving only to those who cannot give me compensation. I have no desire for tasteless riches; I am moved only by the smile and ready faith of my childhood face – through different eyes. The smiles that warms my every day, while breaking heart. Not all faces return to shelters.

I am too tired to lift my head, or my eyes to heaven. The extent of my hope lies in a minor thought, that seldom haunts me. It whispers to me that perhaps one day God will lift me up again and fill me.

I am called a bag lady, Erykah Badu sang for me. Tell her I carry my bags in style and I have never cared for easing my existence staring through the windows of a bus that was not built for me. They are my bags, and besides, it was a bus that broke down and left me nowhere. 10 years ago, a 10 year old girl discovered that the only way to get anywhere is to carry all your possessions in one bag and walk away, independent – alone - on two feet.

20 years ago, a baby was born alone.

Memoirs of a Bag Lady by Soyini Denise Liburd

© Copyright 2001. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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