I awoke remembering a story that I wrote when in 2nd grade. It was about a young Jamaican girl named ‘Allow-in’, pronounced ‘Alow-een’.
I named her, because the first time I heard my aunties and uncles say the word, I heard her name.
She was named for the prospects that she would one day, be allowed into the country where she’d become prosperous and right. At the age of 12, her father went abroad, to work and gather money, to then send for her mother, and then herself. At 15 years old, she prepared for her mother to leave her on her own, to finalize community, before entering the united states. Her entire life amounted to this year, where she would soon be, allowed in.
This year, of course, in my adorable 2nd-grade mind, is the year that she killed her own goat, kiss her girlfriend on the lips, and sewed her first real dress.
The dress was her favorite color: black. She would wear it on her first day into the states. She wore it while she sewed it, so that she could get the fitting right. While she walked the town, in the small scattered pieces of her unfinished dress, the children and townspeople mocked her.
She finally turned to them and said,
“mock me if you will, but soon, ya see me?! Ma a go a Neew Yark! Unua, uo-na will be hyare, in da only shanti town, wishin and prayin to be me!”
Her finger pointing and swinging against the mango trees.
Of course, this is what she said in her mind.
In reality, she walked the streets with her head hanging low, wishing that they would love her.
On the final day, her last day in Kingston, she walked the streets in her new dress, and went door to door, asking people to treat her kindly. If they did, she would remember them on her travels. They offered her candies and well wishes, with hopes that she would send them barrels of Nike sneakers and Beyonce CDs. But most of them tricked her, pouring dirt on her dress, and smashing her face with their dirty nails, until she was bloody and wretched. She never knew which door would be a trick, or a treat, but she had to try them all, before her long journey.
Finally boarding the plane, the US authorities at Customs pulled her over. Their white hair and chafed-white skin made her whimper and cower.
“Hey you girl, let me see your papers.. What’s your name?”
They scolded her nappy braids, loose at the end, her dirty dress, and bloody skin, and called her a witch under their breath.
“My nyame is Allow-in, sir”
she said, in soft defiance. Their frightened faces menaced her to repeat herself:
“It’s November 1st, me birt-day. And me nyame Allow-in”
And so, they stamped her.
I wore her costume today.
You made it Allow-in.
Today, you made it.