“Beauty is only skin deep”, is a phrase that I regularly heard throughout my childhood. However, it was until later in my life that I came to understand the meaning of this phrase. I used to have two chins when I was a child; the Michelin Tire legs, and my hair, which always stood straight despite the fact that it was barely two inches long. My dear mother would frequently dress me in just a single diaper because of the hot weather during those days. That inspired my maternal uncle, Brook, to give me the name, “Marshmallow Butt”. My uncle and I were very fond of each other, and he always referred to me as “Marshmallow Butt”, a habit that he maintained even in my later years when I was a fully grown up person. As I continued to grow, my two chins turned into one and a half, as my hair finally learnt to lie flat on my head, and my legs elongated into colonial columns. Things happened so fast, and even before I realized it, puberty acne was all over my face and I was being given lessons on how to handle puberty changes. It is at this point of transition in my life that my dad started to educate me on valuable and important lessons with regard to beauty, and the power in the words we speak.
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Throughout my childhood, my family engaged in family nights (a family get together), a practice that was done on a weekly basis. It was not done at night the way the name suggests; it happened during the day. This involved holding family meetings, which offered us an opportunity to discuss important matters. Other activities we carried out included; playing games with my other siblings, singing, as well as lessons from my father such as, the need to be kind to your family, or lessons on moral issues. My father would also narrate to us interesting stories. We also played at the park as we ate ice cream.
I come from a family of ten, and I am the second born. As you could expect, such get together’ meetings would not pass without some kind of disaster. Such fiascos came in various forms ranging from kicking one another amidst mother’s teaching on doing well unto others, or having a fight with my older brother Peter, which involved pulling each other’s hair. Our fight was not just an ordinary hair pulling fight, but a full fist fight, where we would pull each other’s hair as hard as we could. With the notion that, the first person to let go of the other person’s hair was a looser, we would sometimes fight for a very long time, with no one wanting to loose. During one of the get together meetings, my father came home with a movie, titled, Johnny Lingo. As you would expect, I just like other children, found watching the movie funny and interesting; the story was simple but filled with a lot of magic and hope.
The movie was about a girl by the name, Cinderella, who was ironically the most unattractive girl in the island. She was very skinny and bonny too. Cinderella never used to wash her hair, leave alone combing it. She was so ugly that even her own father referred to her as, “Ugly Cinderella”. She too knew she was ugly, and therefore, preferred to hide in the woods so that nobody could see her and laugh at her. One day, a very good-looking young man, by the name, Johnny Lingo, come to the island where Cinderella and her family lived, and asked for her hand in marriage. The man paid eight cows as dowry, in exchange for Cinderella. That came as a surprise to many people in that island, as nobody had paid in excess of four cows as dowry. That was interpreted as a gesture of great love and devotion that Johnny had for Cinderella.
Cinderella’s father could hardly recognize her daughter, when he paid them a visit one year later. Her hair was shining, long and beautifully combed; she had also gained some weight, and her self confidence had improved tremendously. Cinderella’s husband told her father that he had bought her a mirror and a comb to ensure that she always combs her hair, and he always told her how beautiful she was. According to Johnny, Cinderella always had an inner beauty; he just helped her to realize and appreciate it.
It was not until several years later that I came to appreciate the significance of the movie, and the lesson that my father was attempting to teach us. My family resided in a rural town, where finding work was not easy, especially for my father. As a result, he had to look for a job, in another city (Page, Arizona) a way from home. It was the same time that I was also completing my final year in high school, and also celebrating my sixteenth birthday. That summer, I received an “Eight Cow Bracelet” from my dad.
My father was a man who had a smile on his face all the time. As long as I can remember, he has always had crow's feet at the angle of his eyes through smiling. To me, his hands have always been big and strong. He loved waking up early to work in the garden, when the dew was still on the plants leaves. I too was just like my father; I enjoyed working hard. Due to the common interests and the close bond that we shared, we used to spend a lot of quality time together and I enjoyed every bit of his company. My father would teach me which types of bugs were bad for the farm, and which insects were beneficial. He taught me about the rainbow among other things, as well as life in general.
One August morning, my father took me and sat me down on his favorite woodpile, where he liked sitting as he watched the garden while irrigating. He pulled a tiny bundle from his pocket, wrapped in one of his blue handkerchiefs. Guess what was in the handkerchief when he opened it, a beautiful bracelet. The bracelet was slender, simple, but beautiful, and had eight round turquoise stones. I was filled with excitement at seeing such a beautiful bracelet, leave alone knowing that it was mine. Then came my father’s question, “Do you know what this is?” I told him that it was a bracelet. He stared at me with a very big smile on his face and told me that it was not just a bracelet; it was “My Eight Cow Bracelet”. He told me how important I was to him, and that I was the most beautiful creation on the “island”. Through that bracelet, my father helped me to realize just how beautiful I was, both on the inside and outside. The love I felt for him at that moment was incomparable to anything. Since then, my love for my father has grown day by day. Today, as I write this paper, I still remember that day very vividly, especially the love in my father’s eyes as he presented to me “My Eight Cow Bracelet”. I still have that bracelet to date, and whenever, I look at it, it reminds me of how beautiful and valuable I am.