“Lock up and lights off!” Yasmin, my beautiful colleague/friend snapped this order at me as we exited our small office. I was a receptionist and her, Ops supervisor. I was charged with opening the office sometimes and locking up so her request was not out of place, it was…for lack of a better word, haughty.
This was the year 2008.
Everyone had left the office except both of us. I was by my computer, updating the day’s log and trying to do it as fast as possible so Yasmin could drop me off at Awolowo road, Ikoyi where my friend would then drop me off at home. I noticed she was staring at me and because we were cordial I said to her, “Madam warrisit? Have I suddenly developed wings?”
She responded with a wide smile, a very small chuckle and a soft touch to my chin, “what happened to you here? How did you get this scar?”
Yasmin wasn’t the first person who had asked me about the 1.5inch zigzag scar on the right side of my face slightly below my bottom lip. I would usually give one answer, “accident”. But that day, I felt I needed to entertain Yasmin with my story as she waited for me.
It happened in 2002, on my way from church to my shared room in the University with family friends. It’s funny how I can never forget the thoughts in my head that day. I was on a bike, genuinely enjoying how the breeze hit me hard in the face and then sweep past it simultaneously. I silently begged God to get home and meet an empty room because my roommates liked to entertain on Sundays but I just wanted a quiet nap. From the bottom of my heart, I prayed that they would not be home. I had bowed my head to say this short prayer and as I looked up to continue to enjoy the breeze, I saw a white Honda coming towards us with speed. I held on desperately to the bike man and….silence.
Someday soon, I must take you through the process of me waking up on the side of the road, to how many scars I incurred from that accident (including the scar on my face) and how I reacted when I saw my face.
I narrated the story to Yasmin and when I was done, I asked her “You’ve been meaning to ask me for a while right? Why are you now just asking today?”
“Looking at you now, I just realized you would have been so beautiful without it. Maybe more men would be toasting you sef, then you and I will be getting married around the same time. It makes me feel bad when I see the scar. I even heard a client call you ‘Scarface’ one time like that…” Yasmin responded as her eyes scanned my face, settling on my scar. She pitied me.
I didn’t know which came first, the anger or the discomfort but I felt both and struggled with myself as to how to react. My anger won and I immediately lashed out at her, “Why is beauty that important to you?” I asked her and noticed she stepped back from the front desk in surprise. I continued, “you assume you’re better than me because you’re prettier? You seriously think you’re all of that and a bag of chips? Don’t ever equate my scar to ugliness again or you and I will stop being friends!” I closed my laptop and picked up my bag and office keys, ready to leave even without her. This was when she quickly walked ahead of me and snapped the order “lock up and lights off!”.
Truth? Her words scared me, I was afraid she was right, which is why I got really mad, I couldn’t handle the discomfort. Will I ever get any man to marry me? Does that mean I’ve been looking at myself as beautiful all these while and others have looked at me as ugly?
I got into a taxi, refused to make my usual stop in Ikoyi, instead I got on the phone with Emma, an older friend and sobbed as I told her everything.
Emma’s words worked like magic.
“The first day I saw you, I immediately noticed how hot you looked, then your smile, your confidence and how you excelled at every little task given to you. I never saw your scar until months later. You’re amazing Ife and you will go places and meet a man who can match all that simmering volcano in you. You must never forget that your scar is an added feature to your beauty, it doesn’t take away from it”- Said Emma
When I got home, I looked at myself in the mirror and for the first time, I accepted my scar as beautiful and as my facial feature, breathing in Emma’s words, feeling my confidence seeping back through my nose, into my mind and heart. And as I took in Emma’s words, I added mine, “I am beautiful but I am more beautiful inside, that is important too.”
Not one time since then, have I ever seen my scar as anything other than badass!
My name is Ife, I AM NOT MY SCAR. I am more than you can see.