Little Girl

‘Sherry!’ cried mother. It was my turn to wash the dishes but I forgot. Again. I was trying to play the game of dress up on my uncle’s desktop computer. My cousin was teaching me because I liked it so much. I liked being able to dress up the pretty girl on the screen who had such shiny and adorable dresses. She didn’t even have any ugly ones or ones that didn’t fit her right or even seem to run out of dresses. I wanted to be that girl but mummy said I had to wash the dishes, go to school and stay away from boys if I ever wanted to be that girl.

I wondered sometimes in my room if mummy had been that girl. She seemed to have okay dresses, sometimes she didn’t have dresses for church and we wouldn’t go because the other mummies looked at her funny and even though she would smile at me, I could tell it made her feel uncomfortable. She didn’t like it when the other mummies looked at her like that. I tried to tell her once that she’s prettier than all the other mummies but she still made me wash the dishes.

Five years later and my mother still treated me like I was 10 years old. She still doesn’t understand that I am too busy to wash the dishes. If only I can do them after I complete my homework, it would make me much happier. If only she would yell a little less, I bet it would make her much happier too. High school is hard and she won’t stop telling me- in fact everybody won’t stop telling me that my uncle won’t pay for my school if I fail.

Mother has completely dedicated her life to making sure I never forget that. My younger brother has it easier. He doesn’t have to wash the dishes or cook lunch and wash the dishes. He is allowed to go out and play with his friends. In fact he plays from 3pm to 6pm and mother doesn’t get upset. I don’t remember ever being accorded such freedoms. My brother gets a carte blanche on curfew and yet my mother gets worried when I get home past 5pm.

I won’t get pregnant! Sometimes I want to scream at her because I feel like she doesn’t understand. I don’t play, I don’t sit idle, and I wash the dishes like she asks. I wonder if I’ll ever really become like that girl on the screen with the glamorous clothes.

I’m twenty years old now and I have job working for a Laundromat. I haven’t seen mummy in a year but she calls me every day to remind me to wash the dishes. I don’t wash the dishes right after lunch like she asks and sometimes I forget to wash them but that’s okay because I know she will call to remind me. Again. Uncle pays for my school fees at one of the local colleges here but I have to get a job to earn pocket money. Frankly I think he didn’t expect me to pass high school because he seems quite reluctant to pick my calls when I call him to ask for my tuition fees.

I stay with two other girls who seem to never run out of a supply of pocket money. They don’t even seem to have problems. In fact, one of them (Celina) was crying the other day because her boyfriend found her with another guy- whom she swears is just a friend. I don’t really know how to comfort her because mummy still asks me to stay away from boys right after she reminds me to wash the dishes. Anyway, I don’t have the time. I don’t have the clothes and I definitely don’t have the money.

The other girls look at me funny. It reminds me of how the other women at church would stare at my mother and her clothes. Now I know why she stopped going to church. I also know how she felt and what she thought they were thinking. Sometimes, I buy a pretty dress when I can but it’s never as shiny or as exquisite as the ones in the dress-up game.

I talked to my brother yesterday; he says he’s found a job at a garage. Apparently he learned how to fix cars somewhere between 3 and 6pm all those years ago. I don’t believe he even has curfew anymore. I’ll be graduating next month and I bought mum a dress because I want her to feel pretty. It is shiny and I know she will just love it. I didn’t get myself one because I could only afford the one. I met a boy and I want him to meet her. I’m not sure I know how she’ll react.

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