The Chocolate Snowflake
“Giggles are good.” That’s what momma said. Even when it’s the neighbors and they’re pointing and sniggling behind mud caked fingers that are shoved up into their snotty noses and drooling lips.
“Keeps them young and happy and they don’t have much to be happy about.” That’s what momma said. “Rains are late again and they’ve got empty bellies. You’re keeping their mind off of the growling.”
“Never mind those names”, momma told me after my first day at school. “ Those poor kids aren’t going to be a doctor like you so they don’t need to use their brains before they open their mouth. You just respect everyone now, you hear?”
“Fear is a mighty powerful thing.” Momma must have told me that a hundred times when I got pushed or beaten or hit with a stone. “Those poor children are being twisted up inside. You gotta love ‘em more, you hear?”
I’m still amazed at the power of a whisper on the tip of a loving tongue. There wasn’t a single school day that momma let me feel that I was anything like everyone else was saying. My skin was tough like the rhino. My speed, swift as the cheetah. My climbing, agile as the Vervet monkey. If I was going to be the doctor that helped AIDS orphans beat their struggles I had to overcome mine first.
I remember the day I was six and looked into a clear pool of water with my sister Hannah. The sun was bright and the reflection was perfectly clear. A dark face and a pale face. Chocolate eyes and sky blue eyes. Side by side. Never before this moment had I ever thought of myself as different. I was like the snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
It’s like momma had a sixth sense as I reached out my hand to touch that face in the water. “You’re just a chocolate snowflake turned inside out. All your sweetness got tucked inside where only special people can find it.”
Momma’s words were right as usual but something changed in me that day. And all the words began to make sense.
I understood what Wambui meant. “I can’t play with you anymore. My dad says you’re a witch. I’m supposed to throw rocks at you to keep the curse away. I don’t want to hurt you. I can’t see you anymore.”
I understood why my sister Hannah rubbed charcoal on my face and arms and legs before we arrived at school each day. She tried so hard not to stain the uniform of my blue skirt and white blouse.
I understood why the people stared and why the children ran. I understood why momma had to walk so close to me wherever we went. I understood why I had no daddy like everyone else.
“What’s a witch?” I asked momma one day.
“Don’t you listen to those fools,” said momma. “You’re with me in church every Sunday. You just keep singing ‘Jesus loves me’ whenever you hear that babble. The truth shall set you free child.”
“Why is my hair and my skin white, momma? I look everywhere around me and everything has color, except me. The butterflies and the flowers and the rainbows and the sunsets. Why do my eyes hurt from the light and why do I have to blink so much? Momma, what’s wrong with me?”
“There’s nothing wrong with you, child. God made you special. You’re going to be a doctor some day.”
And one day I was beaten so badly after school that I ended up in hospital. It was there I met a doctor and a nurse with the same skin color as mine. They loved me as I was and told me even more about how much Jesus loved me too. I knew then and there that momma was right. I was meant to be a doctor who could tell other children how much Jesus loved them.
That doctor helped momma send me to a special school with kids from all over the world. I was given glasses so I can see the colors in my world even better.
Today, I am a doctor who works to help AIDS orphans in my own country. I also educate people about albinos like me. I understand that albinism is an inherited problem where melanin or pigment doesn’t get made.
I praise God that, like you, I am fearfully and wonderfully made for his own special plans.
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