I woke up to the smell of sausage frying with onions and ketchup--yummy! My stomach was already grumbling. I stumbled out of my purple and white floral bed sheets and walked through the maze of doorways to the pink tiled bathroom, and began the morning freshening up routine. After I relieved myself on the toilet, I washed my hands, brushed my teeth, and washed my face. Staring at my face in the mirror, I looked at the face I had looked at every day of my life. My oval shaped face, my almond shaped brown eyes, my pug nose, my thin lips and my bushy black eyebrows. All of which I didn't mind, but then I smiled and I saw my big brown gums. I hated my gums. Why did I have to have these gums? I got a whiff of the sausages again, forgot all about how much I hated my gums and hurried downstairs for breakfast. Mommy was still hovering over the stove toasting the hops bread over the ancient gas stove (also donated to us from Aunty Barbara, but this time it was from the 1970s).
Mommy had already put out our hot Milo on the table. I loved Milo especially when she made it with condensed milk, which she had. Ayana soon traipsed downstairs too; sleep was still in her eyes, and she hadn't even brushed her teeth. She sat opposite me on the rickety kitchen table. She grinned revealing her yellow, spacey, unbrushed teeth to me and I laughed because she was so ridiculous. Everything else on Ayana's face was perfect. She had perfectly shaped thin eyebrows, high cheekbones like Daddy, and small eyes with a little slant that made it look a little like she had Chinee eyes. She had the same exact pug nose like me which we both got from our father, but thank God, we had a smaller version to Daddy's massive nose. Her lips were full but not too big, and she had a perfect chin, not too pointy or too round. She always did what she wanted to do without a care in the world, and I couldn't help but admire that quality in her.
I knew that today was going to be an adventure because she had a mischievous gleam in her eye, and I never knew what she was going to do. Mommy finally placed the sausage and bread on the table, and I savored the meal as I ate it. Ayana had bread and cheese as usual. She didn't eat sausage; she said it made the bread too soggy. Mommy stood at the head of the table watching us in her favorite home clothes of short pants and a vest. Today she was wearing brown, bleach stained shorts with a pink and white tie dyed vest with no bra of course. She had well shaped, pale legs which were adorned with green and blue varicose veins because she was always on her feet. She was a registered nurse and worked ungodly hours as a result, but I don't ever remember her being idle; she was always standing and busy. My mother was one of the hardest working women I knew.
"Ayana and Makeda after breakfast get dressed. I have to go to Hi-Lo," she said. Hi-Lo was the neighborhood grocery store. We liked going because we always got a snack, so we rushed upstairs and got changed and flew downstairs to go. Mommy was already changed as well, looking beautiful as ever. Mommy was the most beautiful woman I knew. She was what some would call a "red" woman or light skinned woman. She had almond shaped, brown eyes, full cheeks, a high forehead, thin lips and relaxed shoulder length dark brown hair which she sometimes had streaked red or blonde. She was average height at 5 feet 6 inches with a slender body frame. But most importantly, my mother loved to dress and dressed well. To go to Hi-Lo she wore light blue jeans that she rolled up a little above her ankles, a crisp white t-shirt, and white moccasins that were decorated with black and red beading. She had put on some black eyeliner and a light pink lipstick, gold hoop earrings, and she had tied a rolled up red bandana in her hair and left her hair out. Let's not forget the two gold bracelets with the cocoa pod ends that she never took off. Ayana and I had changed into blue jeans shorts and pink and blue t-shirts respectively. We both wore simple white Keds sneakers.
As we walked up the five blocks to Hi-Lo, Mommy talked to us about always dressing presentable when we were walking in the street, even if we were just going to the local parlor store called Chan's, because you never knew who you were going to meet in the street. She said you may meet your husband and you don't want to be looking jokey. We half listened and walked along, holding hands with her as we crossed each road, even though we didn't like to be seen holding her hand. On the way, we passed the Woodbrook Police Station, which was located on Baden Powell Street, right next to the park. We continued on to the corner of Fitts Street where there was a large house where the Maharaj family who owned Maharaj Jewellers once lived but was later sold to a caterer. As we crossed Fitts Street, we encountered Woodbrook Government Secondary School, which took up the entire block and where at least 90% of my misery occurred. I just never felt like I fit in there.