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Comp 101-130 28 February 2012 Descriptive Essay I Am Human, Too! It was still there, staring back at her, silently taunting her like a schoolyard bully. The dark browning of her skin was still present. How she regretted going to the river to swim with her friends! How she wished she could have stayed home, dressed in her sweater and long skirt busying herself with her embroidery. Yet her friends had begged her to go along with them, saying “Sarah, the weather is perfect! Can’t your sewing wait for one day?” It had been a sweltering summer day; her clothing felt like a swimming suit, clinging tightly to her skin. It was a sweet temptation that she thought she could risk; she would throw caution to the wind and have a day of sweet, uninhibited freedom with her classmates. But today, she realized her mistake. Days ago her skin was beginning to whiten, or at least it seemed to be a lighter color from the constant covering of her appendages with her long blouses and ankle length skirts. Now, staring back at her, flaunting her mistake in front of her eyes was the darkening of a tan. She hated the russet colored hide, it disgusted her. Grabbing a pumice stone Sarah began to scrub as hard as she could. Back and forth she scraped it across her forearm; she could feel the roughness of the ancient volcanic stone angrily penetrating her skin. She was desperate for it to disappear. Her skin was becoming raw and screaming out for her to stop. It begged and pleaded, but she wouldn’t, she couldn’t give it the
Pyle-Fields 2 respite even though small pools of crimson formed at the pores. She would keep going no matter how hard her skin bled. She had to erase the Indian and she had to save the human inside of her. She wanted to look like her classmates with their beautiful porcelain skin. Why was Sarah cursed to have her mother’s features? Her mother… She was a beautiful, lithe woman who had seen many hardships but was still a wonderful person. Her mother had large dark brown eyes that would often survey a situation with the coolness of a hawk but was as gentle at times as a doe with her newborn fawn. Her mother’s dark, raven black hair was always flowing about her in a long curtain that hung to the small of her back with its luxurious locks always vibrant and healthy. Her hair alone should have been the envy of many women. She was given the name “Helen” by her husband’s mother as no one in his family could pronounce her real name. She was beautiful in her own mysterious way. Sarah could see why her father had married her and taken her from her homeland in California. Her mother was a hard worker and was always smiling and singing as she helped to plow the fields. Sarah knew her mother enjoyed the hard work for she never complained and seemed the happiest when she was helping to till up the brown, rich earth. But did her mother not hear what the people in the town said of her? Was she deaf against them? Sarah was not. She knew what they said and knew what they whispered in the halls behind Sarah’s back. Her mother was a savage. Her kind mother wasn’t even a human being in their eyes. How could her father, a handsome Irish man, take this native woman as his bride? Surely he could have found someone a bit more proper to marry. Sarah didn’t understand any of it. All she knew was she was only half human in their eyes; their actions would often show it without a single word passing between their pursed lips.
Pyle-Fields 3 It hurt. The harsh words that were spoken or even the unspoken actions of the people were a murderous stab that slashed into her very core. It made her heart cry out and her soul was weeping for acceptance. She wanted to scream, “I am human, too!” over and over at the top of her lungs at her classmates and at the ignorant people that stood on the sides of the road starting at them in the dusty town they lived. She wanted to cry at them, “My mother is beautiful! Why can’t you see that?” Her mother had never done any wrong and she was a gentle soul in every way. She wanted to beg them to accept her, to accept her family for what they were, but they wouldn’t. Sarah was treated partially well because her father was a well-liked man, and many people were known to seek his advice, and as long as she stayed close to her father, she was alright. However, when Sarah or her mother walked unescorted, they would often be spat upon. When Sarah was younger she hadn’t understood people’s actions, but when she had turned eleven she had started to feel that she was different and slowly began to comprehend why they treated her that way. Once, when Sarah when was thirteen, a cousin’s aunt had traveled from New York to visit her extended family. The woman was gorgeous in Sarah’s eyes. Her complexion was fair and reminded Sarah of a Chinese doll her paternal grandmother had once had. And her hair! The blonde locks were curled every so daintily and would bounce around the woman’s face when she would laugh heartily. She spoke of all the latest fashions and had mentioned that peroxide was often used to color her hair. Sarah flew home that night; her legs carried her as fast as they could, eager to try what she had heard. Maybe, just maybe, she could be beautiful too. Taking one of the old water basins she poured the chemical into it and dunked her head, rubbing it into her scalp as fast as she could. She did this for days, for weeks on end, only stopping when her head began to burn and she could no longer stand the tingling sensation of her
Pyle-Fields 4 scalp. By the end of her first month of dying her hair with the harsh chemical, it was a soft caramel brown color. Sarah loved it! She felt beautiful and she radiated it. Boys at her school were paying attention to her and the townsfolk treated her decently for once. The shop keeper was even willing to sell her his wares when months before he had refused. But, Sarah’s mother would only click her tongue at her daughter’s foolish behavior. Sarah stopped her furious scrubbing when she caught her reflection hanging from the only mirror they had in their small house. Who was this girl that stared back at her? She was completely unrecognizable from the person she once knew. Her hair was all disheveled. The once vibrant locks she once had had dulled down to a sickly gray and laid limply around her face. She looked like a crazy person, she felt like a crazy person. Her reflection in the mirror stared at her, seeming to mouth, “Why are you doing this?” Why was she doing this? Deep down, in the depths of her stomach, she felt like God was punishing her for a sin she must have committed at one time. But what was it? What crime had she done to be born a half-breed? She tried to recall any wrong she might have done. Sarah was always honest respectful and worked hard in all of her given tasks. Why it was even considered a crime that she was part Native American she could not understand. If people would open their blind eyes to see them for what they were, maybe then they would understand. Maybe Sarah wouldn’t have to feel this way. These thoughts disgusted her more, this feeling of no self-worth, and she hated it more than the color of her flesh. Yet Sarah couldn’t understand why she couldn’t be happy with herself when she should be. Why couldn’t she be like her older brother? He loved his heritage and was proud; he had left a year ago to make a pilgrimage to their mother’s home lands and meet her family. No one in the town seemed to pay any attention to him. Sarah often wondered if the people of the town
Pyle-Fields 5 were scared of her brother, as he looked everything like she assumed a savage would look like. He was a gentle person though and everything like their mother. Sarah admired her brother’s strength and courage. Why couldn’t she be like him? Sarah dropped the pumice stone and began to weep. The tears poured from her hazel eyes in torrents of salty liquid staining her blouse. She felt so ugly, but then again, she was only ugly because she thought herself to be. This wasn’t who she was; she was never raised to be this way. Her thoughts were not hers and would have to change. With a renewed faith in herself, Sarah gazed back into the mirror. The person that was there she didn’t know. It wasn’t her; it was the demon of her darkest thoughts and the jeers of the townspeople. Sarah would need to expunge this demon from her being for this was not the person Sarah wanted to be. “I am proud of who I am.” The thoughts were swimming in her head, the words wanting to form on her lips. They beat themselves against her brain, urging her to say them. Repeatedly they assaulted her, over and over again telling her, “Be proud.” “I am proud!” Sarah screamed at her reflection in the mirror, startled when the person in the looking glass repeated the same thing. Grabbing a pair of shears, Sarah began to chop at her hair, watching as the strands fell one by one to the floor circling around her body haunting her like a hungry vulture waiting on a sick animal to die. She pulled at her scalp, hacking away, even though the pain was blinding, till her hair was no longer than an inch long. Sarah looked at what she had done to herself in the mirror. Her hair was uneven and spikey in some areas, but she didn’t care. For there, at the roots, she could see the dark black
Pyle-Fields 6 tresses that were just being to show. In the months to come her hair would slowly grow out and return to its proper shade. To the townsfolk she would be ugly for a while, but they would have to get over it. There was nothing wrong with being Native American. Sarah wasn’t a savage. Neither was her mother nor her brother. The people of the town would need to learn to accept them for who they were. They needed to learn to accept all Native Americans for the strong, proud, courageous humans they were. But first, in order for them to learn to accept her, Sarah was going to have to learn to accept herself as the human being she was. And that was going to be a hard road she would have to travel to learn to love herself and her own people once more.