Anu Makinde

by Anu Makinde

30 April, 2021

I look back on the pictures where she holds me. I have to wonder- is this what it will feel like? To have someone’s arms wrapped around me and feel as safe for them as I feel with them. Was I happier there? Was she at peace even?

It is strange to move through the world in a black body. To have your presence beg questions and ask for space. Imagining my presence in the world would be scientifically impossible without my mother but my survival to this point depends on her. Since I was young I woke everyday with a new lesson from my mother. About what she expects of me and in turn, I learn what to expect of her. What does teaching that lesson for eternity do to someone? The rinse, wash, repeat as she scrubbed my hair.

We’ve been conditioned, yes. And I still thank her for it. I thank her for the tears she poured into me and the hours we spent together. Yet I still don’t know if I can teach the lesson too. I toss the stone back and forth in the palm of my mind. I toy with its weight, its colour, its origin. I wonder how heavy something so beautiful could be, the repetitive movement becomes daunting. Soon I’m no longer seeing rock but waves over and all around me.

I wonder of the light that reflects upon it, how in some angles the stone’s beauty is enough to make me forget. I forget of the pain and am lifted into a state indescribable. I am laughing with her and she’s holding me again. I wonder of her own teacher. Did they laugh the same? The one before them, did they also smile and cry? Putting the stone down, I decide they did. I decide they have decided for me. That they have asked this question too, countless times. And they ask the question again with me.

A mother’s role cannot belong to her alone, it belongs to those before and those after. It belongs to wonder. The imagination used to devote the life given to you by another, to another. My mother endowed me with dreams, lessons and questions for me to ask of the world and never stop without an answer.

Anu Makinde is a Sociology honours student at the University of Ottawa who is interested in the intersection between environmental justice, politics, policy, culture and race. Through these lenses, she hopes to understand how future generations can use past knowledge to further their movements and revolutions. Anu has volunteered with the NDP riding in her hometown; Mike Bloomberg’s Presidential campaign; as well as participated in Fellowships for voting rights organization Woke Vote, and the Sustainability Institute of the University of New Hampshire. Her hobbies include learning through the music and books of Erykah Badu, Solange, Toni Morrison, Bell Hooks and James Bladwin.