In my literature class [which I absolutely love] we read Jamaica Kicaid’s Girl and were then instructed to write our own narrative of advice we had been given by an influential individual. One person instantly shot into my mind and I wanted to share what I came up with. We were instructed to write in the same style as is used in Girl, and include things both literally said and lessons learned, below is my version of it.
“Don’t slouch like that; stand up confidently; don’t let adults fool you or push you around; respect your teachers; got to college; do not be like the other girls; DO NOT BE LIKE THE OTHER GIRLS; do not allow for excuses; own your actions; this is how you file your paperwork; this is how you present to a superior officer; DO NOT let them belittle you because you are a woman; push through (what if I can’t); don’t let your illness own you (I won’t); always pin your hair under your garrison cap; Straighten up your ribbons; be a leader that I can be proud of; lead from the front; learn to actively follow; don’t be like the other girls; DO NOT BE LIKE THE OTHER GIRLS; don’t make the same mistake twice; be better (what if I can’t); I put you in this position for a reason; well done; I am proud of you”
I read mine aloud for the class and realized the person I wrote about really had made an impact on my life, he helped me when I first got sick, he helped pull me through all the difficult craap life threw at me in my highschool years and helped instill confidence in myself. For that I would like to thank LTC Bernard Aikens for having the patience to take an interest in the students in the Plano East Senior High JROTC battalion.
Here is the original for reference:
” Wash the white clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap; wash the color clothes on Tuesday and put them on the clothesline to dry; don’t walk barehead in the hot sun; cook pumpkin fritters in very hot sweet oil; soak your little cloths right after you take them off; when buying cotton to make yourself a nice blouse, be sure that it doesn’t have gum on it, because that way it won’t hold up well after a wash; soak salt fish overnight before you cook it; is it true that you sing benna in Sunday school?; always eat your food in such a way that it won’t turn someone else’s stomach; on Sundays try to walk like a lady and not like the slut you are so bent on becoming; don’t sing benna in Sunday school; you mustn’t speak to wharf–rat boys, not even to give directions; don’t eat fruits on the street—flies will follow you; but I don’t sing benna on Sundays at all and never in Sunday school; this is how to sew on a button; this is how to make a button–hole for the button you have just sewed on; this is how to hem a dress when you see the hem coming down and so to prevent yourself from looking like the slut I know you are so bent on becoming; this is how you iron your father’s khaki shirt so that it doesn’t have a crease; this is how you iron your father’s khaki pants so that they don’t have a crease; this is how you grow okra—far from the house, because okra tree harbors red ants; when you are growing dasheen, make sure it gets plenty of water or else it makes your throat itch when you are eating it; this is how you sweep a corner; this is how you sweep a whole house; this is how you sweep a yard; this is how you smile to someone you don’t like too much; this is how you smile to someone you don’t like at all; this is how you smile to someone you like completely; this is how you set a table for tea; this is how you set a table for dinner; this is how you set a table for dinner with an important guest; this is how you set a table for lunch; this is how you set a table for breakfast; this is how to behave in the presence of men who don’t know you very well, and this way they won’t recognize immediately the slut I have warned you against becoming; be sure to wash every day, even if it is with your own spit; don’t squat down to play marbles—you are not a boy, you know; don’t pick people’s flowers—you might catch something; don’t throw stones at blackbirds, because it might not be a blackbird at all; this is how to make a bread pudding; this is how to make doukona; this is how to make pepper pot; this is how to make a good medicine for a cold; this is how to make a good medicine to throw away a child before it even becomes a child; this is how to catch a fish; this is how to throw back a fish you don’t like, and that way something bad won’t fall on you; this is how to bully a man; this is how a man bullies you; this is how to love a man; and if this doesn’t work there are other ways, and if they don’t work don’t feel too bad about giving up; this is how to spit up in the air if you feel like it, and this is how to move quick so that it doesn’t fall on you; this is how to make ends meet; always squeeze bread to make sure it’s fresh; but what if the baker won’t let me feel the bread?; you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won’t let near the bread?”