STROKING MY GRANNY

August 8, 2011

I used to look at my granny’s labia at the onset of my puberty

I would stroke her clitoris while I bathed her in those days
I did not think that she’d be lesbian or even knew foreplay in her time
But i still looked at her two sunken lips and docile extension
I guess it was the curiosity that gave me thoughts on physical manifestations
the physical manifestations of womanhood, corporeality and embodiment
I used to wonder if this vagina popped out all her ten children
then why was granny’s labia and its relatives so inactive now?
I used to think it was old age that had caught up with her or the freaking diabetes
You know the other day my doc said Diabetes does reduce sexual activity ?
But I know Diabetic women who still stand on Oxford Street as sex workers
But again is Sex Workers an appropriate term for women having ‘transactional sex’
Or just a term trying to fit women’s bodies into late capitalism and neo-liberalism?

My granny’s labia perhaps should never be a topic for engagement
Not only because she’s dead now but because it is a taboo subject
I don’t think many women even talk of their own pubic hair enough
to warrant a talk of some body part that is now part of an ancestral whole
But I want to talk about what I saw in the bathroom so many times
This body that just wants me to talk because it is perhaps part of the ‘memory project’
The memory project on which my thoughts have always coiled themselves
memories that often obscure my imagination and take priviledge over creativity
Of course my granny had nothing peculiar in her bodily geography
She would never have qualified for Georges Cuvier’s exhibitions
Of Black women with ‘pathological’ steatopygia and elongated labia minoras
She would never (well, may be…) have been taken on a freakshow or museum in Europe
But her labia still took away my onset-of-puberty excitement about my own body

I know I lie a lot and by now you know I am lying about caressing my granny
I never stroke my granny’s clitoris or even thought she’d be aroused while I scrubbed
But I always had many questions about my own body that I needed to ask
About what it felt to have a drunken man touch your labia everyday
Especially after your church meetings and women fellowships where women spoke like virgins
What was it like to have sex with a man half of whose brain was left in Burma in 1945?
A man whose bolts had become so loose after fighting a war he didnt understand?
I wanted to know whether it was that ‘unwanted’ sex that had made my granny’s labia that cold
Whether it was all the hogwash of Christian teaching which conflicted her desire for sex
Teachings that made sex look too sinful for present day discussions of women’s bodies
That should never be seen as evidence of sexual activity but as tunnels for posterity?
I really should have stroked my granny’s labia then!

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